LAWRENCE — This week, the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities (IDRH) at the University of Kansas is hosting 24 scholars and community partners from across the country to participate in a program designed to strengthen collaborative projects in the public and digital humanities. The Public Digital Humanities Institute (PDHI), funded by a $190,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is aimed at fostering successful projects that use digital technologies to bridge the divide between the academy and the community.
The intensive institute, which takes place June 6-11 at the Hall Center for the Humanities, will provide foundational knowledge, skills and resources to advance 12 public humanities projects, increasing their longevity, visibility and impact. The projects include a Minnesota-based Black Church Archives Project and an Indigenous Media Portal headquartered at the University of Oklahoma. The institute will be followed by a year of online training, support and discussion, with a final symposium and showcase in June 2023.
The 24 participants are attending in teams of two, with one academic and one community partner representing each project. The cohort will see many examples of public digital humanities projects and receive training in digital humanities framed with a community-engagement perspective.
The institute is organized by IDRH co-directors Brian Rosenblum, digital humanities librarian, and Dave Tell, professor of communication studies, along with Kaylen Dwyer, IDRH digital media specialist, and partners Sylvia Fernȧndez and Sarah Bishop.
“One of the most distinctive features of this institute is that it provides the opportunity for community organizations to train alongside humanities scholars in a bidirectional, collaborative setting,” Tell said. “Community programs don’t have the same access to resources and training opportunities that academics do, and the PDHI attempts to bridge that gap.”
The institute will feature case studies of real-world public digital humanities projects representing a range of types of collaborations and modes of digital scholarship; training in technical topics such as data visualization, mapping, publishing platforms, metadata and data management, audio and video production, and accessible web design; and interactive discussion sessions on project funding and marketing, developing community partnerships, participatory design, project sustainability and more.
While the institute’s immediate goal is to provide support for the successful development of the participating projects, the wider goal is to foster an interdisciplinary conversation about what it takes to develop successful collaborative public projects in the digital humanities and to provide resources and models for other projects to use.
“Collaborative digital projects are hard and can be even more challenging when working across academic and community sectors. That's why our curriculum goes beyond training in digital tools and methods and emphasizes relationship-building, project management and effective models of academic-community collaboration," Rosenblum said.
More than 20 presenters will participate throughout the week, including KU faculty and staff members from across the university. These include Hyunjin Seo, Oscar Stauffer Professor of Journalism; Jomella Watson-Thompson, associate professor of applied behavioral science; Kent Blansett, Langston Hughes Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies & History; Nils Gore, professor of architecture; and Tami Albin, Josh Bolick and Erin Wolfe with KU Libraries.
Other nationally recognized digital humanities practitioners, community-engaged scholars and public sector partners are also participating in the institute, which will begin with a presentation and discussion led by Michelle May-Curry, director of the National Humanities Alliance’s Humanities for All program.
Learn more about PDHI and the projects at publicdh.org.
Top right photo: Michelle May-Curry gives a presentation June 6 at the Public Digital Humanities Institute at the University of Kansas.
Bottom right photo: Scholars participate in a discussion June 6 at the Public Digital Humanities Institute at the University of Kansas.