Higher Education Programs in Digital Humanities: Challenges and Perspectives @ DHN2018

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Wed, 03/07/2018 - 07:26

Different aspects related to higher education programs in Digital Humanities (DH), whether, what and how they should be organized, are currently discussed at many higher education institutions in Nordic countries and beyond. In recent years the establishment of new educational programs under the title of Digital Humanities, for example in the USA, UK and Germany, are an indication of a perceived need for developing such specific curricula. DARIAH-EU has a dedicated research and education centre under the title of Virtual Competency Centre (VCC) Research and Education Liaison. DARIAH-EU also runs a registry of Digital Humanities education in Europe which, as of 10 January 2017, lists currently active 17 Bachelor degrees, 38 Master degrees, and 8 individual courses. By 2018 the Erasmus+ funded Open Education Ressources platform #dariahTeach will be part of DARIAH-EU sustained services, offering modules and courses within a range of DH topics, while also building on European quality standards for Higher Education. Similarly, EADH (European Association for Digital Humanities) provides a list of education programs, courses and seminars in Europe and names: 7 undergraduate programs and courses, all with terms like Digital Humanities, Humanities Computing and related in the title; 20 postgraduate ones with a more mixed array of titles; and, 4 PhD programs, all with the title of Digital Humanities or very similar (University College London, King's College London, a cluster of 4 Irish universities, and University of Passau). 

In the Nordic countries similar efforts are underway at the University of Gothenburg, which launched a Master in Digital Humanities in autumn 2017. The University of Helsinki is also offering a set of courses in Digital Humanities. Linnaeus University aims towards developing an international distance Master program in Digital Humanities, with a pilot program course having started in the autumn of 2017. At the same time, at other universities, courses in digital methods and topics have been integrated as a part of existing and new programs as specific compulsory and elective modules, or by including Digital Humanities related topics and perspectives as a part of other courses. 

However, what a dedicated course, module or program in the field of Digital Humanities should cover is not always clear. There is a considerable variation between different offerings including diverse content and approaches. The vast range of disciplines, fields, areas and topics relevant to Digital Humanities present a challenge as to what to include in a dedicated program, how to address the different challenges related to bringing together different disciplinary traditions and methods, and how to accommodate professional, infrastructural and academic requirements for such initiatives.

Moreover, there are several challenges associated with what is expected from the outcomes of these new educational programs and efforts. Which job positions and tasks could a graduate Digital Humanist take on after completion of a Digital Humanities program? What kind of practices and training do the students need to be prepared for the job market or for a PhD
programme? Is there a need for Digital Humanists as such or should education in all humanities subjects be more inclusive of digital technology-related, cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral topics? If the latter is the case, do we need entire programs or could the alternative of focusing on dedicated modules or individual courses address existing and emerging needs of both the academic and the non-academic spheres? Furthermore, if both approaches were deemed to have their merits, how do they differ, overlap and complement each other in the context of educating future researchers and professionals for different sectors of the society?

The aim of this proposed workshop at DHN 2018 is to bring together scholars, educators and others interested in different aspects of Digital Humanities education to explore the current potential and challenges and opportunities related to the teaching and learning of Digital Humanities. The workshop will provide an opportunity to share experiences, discuss existing
programs, modules and courses in Digital Humanities, research, training and development activities, evaluation approaches, lessons learned, and findings. A further objective is to systematically engage in discussions in common areas of interest with selected related communities and to investigate potential co-operation and concrete collaborative activities. 

The workshop will allow major established programs and initiatives to report results, newcomers to interact with established people in the field in order to allow the entire community to critically discuss topical issues. The DHN venue encourages participation by Digital Humanities teachers, researchers and developers from different perspectives (reflecting the different conference threads). As the second workshop on education at DHN, it is envisioned as part of a workshop series taking place at annual DHN conferences in order to establish and provide a regular forum for discussions on education in Digital Humanities in Nordic countries and beyond.

More information at https://lnu.se/en/research/searchresearch/digital-humanities/workshop-helsinki-2018/