Exploring Digital Humanities Collaborations in the CIC

July 17, 2013, 15:30 | Centennial Room, Nebraska Union

The CIC — the Big 10 plus the University of Chicago — is a consortium of some of the largest universities in the Midwest region of the United States. Its members include:

The University of Chicagohttp://www.uchicago.edu
University of Illinois Urbana Champaignhttp://illinois.edu
Indiana Universityhttp://www.indiana.edu/
University of Iowahttp://www.uiowa.edu
University of Michigan http://www.umich.edu
Michigan State Universityhttp://www.msu.edu
University of Minnesotahttp://www1.umn.edu
University of Nebraska–Lincolnhttp://www.unl.edu
Northwestern Universityhttp://www.northwestern.edu
Ohio State Universityhttp://www.osu.edu
Pennsylvania State Universityhttp://www.psu.edu
Purdue Universityhttp://www.purdue.edu
University of Wisconsin–Madisonhttp://www.wisc.edu

The CIC schools, enroll approximately half a million students each year and have over $7 billion in funded research, over 79 million library volumes, and employ 46,000 faculty. The CIC is home to the HathiTrust Research Center, funded by Indiana University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and boasts three major digital humanities centers: the Illinois Center for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (http://ichass.illinois.edu/), Matrix: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences at Michigan State University (http://matrix.msu.edu), the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://cdrh.unl.edu), and, as of July 1, 2103, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland (http://mith.umd.edu). CIC institutes are also home to a lively and varied assortment of digital humanities labs, institutes, and initiatives.

Despite the range of digital humanities activities in the CIC, little discussion concerning broad collaboration at a consortial level had occurred among the schools until the 2012 CIC Digital Humanities Summit was held to foster exchange of knowledge and experience across campuses and to discover basic common needs and vibrant shared objectives that could benefit from cross institutional collaboration.

In our poster session members of the CIC Digital Humanities Committee will discuss the impetus for the CIC Digital Humanities Initiative; describe recommended actions from the Summit; report on some responses from other CIC committees (specifically those on data storage and geospatial research) as well as responses of the deans and provosts of the universities to the action items in the report. We will outline preliminary actions of the universities and faculty as a result of the scan and the recommendations. This poster session provides an opportunity to discuss efforts to build digital humanities infrastructure as well as research within the context of a large academic consortium. Other CIC schools are beginning to invest, with widening DH education and research opportunities that will extend far outside the CIC.

In Fall 2011, a new CIC Digital Humanities Initiative was announced with the intent to form a stronger CIC faculty community and networks in digital humanities. Concurrently, an interdisciplinary CIC Digital Humanities Committee was appointed. Initially, this group developed an environmental scan that identifys CIC digital humanities centers and institutes; initiatives and laboratories; conferences and workshops; degrees, specialization & certificate programs; recent grants; publishing initiatives; and digital humanities faculty members. Meant to be a dynamic report, the Scan has been shared widely within the CIC universities, especially among the leadership and the digital humanities faculty. Each school is being encouraged to add to the CIC Digital Humanities Environmental Scan, with the intent that this will be a living, changing document. One school is developing a database version for tracking their own activities and is sharing the code with others.

In April 2012, the CIC Digital Humanities Summit was co-hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the CIC. Sixty representatives from twelve of the universities met, including deans, librarians, faculty conducting research in the humanities using technology, and directors of digital humanities centers, studios and labs. Among topics were the environmental scan and possible opportunities and challenges for digital humanities collaboration among the schools; and how to improve the environment and resources for the digital humanities in the CIC. Keynote addresses regarding trends in digital humanities and success and failure of digital humanities centers, and short talks on university publishing and on promotion and tenure characterized much of the Summit’s group discussions. It is notable that there was a great deal of enthusiasm expressed for collaboration and for open source approaches, with very few challenges identified by the participants.

Following the summit, the CIC Digital Humanities Committee developed a report with action items based on Summit participants’ recommendations. The report is leading to campus-specific efforts as well as consortial activity. The CIC’s focus on digital humanities is significant for several reasons. The environmental scan demonstrates that traditionally strong humanities computing efforts in the CIC include an increasingly diverse range of digital humanities endeavors. Moreover, there appear to be a diversity of strengths across the CIC universities with excellent opportunities to provide mutual support and sharing of expertise, perhaps through a broadly conceived initiative such as a CIC Digital Humanities Commons. Faculty are spread across all the humanities disciplines and are in CIC libraries, archives, museums and iSchools, bringing substance to new coalitions and allowing us to reimagine relations with different audiences inside and outside the university. There was a broad acceptance of the importance of collaboration and transdisciplinarity, and a recognition that while it may be difficulty to create community around Digital Humanities at the local level, there is strength at a consortial level.

In the poster, we will address these points and also present brief but concrete examples of mature and robust research programs and nascent efforts among the CIC universities.