SCI 6 Overview
Humanities Research Centers (2008)
July 13 – 15, 2008
University of Virginia, Charlottesville
With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI) began in 2003 with the overall goal of providing an opportunity for scholars and leaders in scholarly disciplines and societies, academic librarians, advanced technologists, and higher education administrators to design, test, and implement strategies to advance humanities scholarship and its dissemination in the context of the ongoing digital revolution.
SCI 6, the last in the series of these Institutes, will focus on 3 key recommendations from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Commission Report on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CI):
- Cultivate leadership in support of cyberinfrastructure from within the humanities and social sciences;
- Encourage digital scholarship; and
- Establish national centers to support scholarship that contributes to and exploits cyberinfrastructure.
SCI has always had (1) and (2) as goals and can point to several successes in these areas. SCI, in collaboration with the ACLS and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) leadership, believes we are now at the critical juncture of carefully investigating the idea of national ‘centers of excellence’ that advance digital scholarship.
While it is necessary to more clearly define the notion and characteristics of such national centers, there is a danger in doing it too soon, in letting current and past models structure the future. SCI represents a neutral convening forum to keep the discussion and options for centers open until the scholarly community has had ample opportunity to identify and consider various models. In the end, the ‘humanities’ and ‘scholarship’ need to be the key drivers, with advanced technologies as enablers.
For SCI 6, we will assemble a group of recognized scholars and pioneers in digital scholarship, leaders in the humanities, and program officers from private and public funding agencies interested in advancing digital scholarship. Invited participants will meet for three days (July 13-15, 2008) at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Prior to this meeting SCI will collaborate with CLIR in holding three preparatory meetings with scholars, institutional leaders, and other key groups and individuals. From these meetings, other ongoing research and discussions, and the experiences of SCI 1-5 participants, SCI will develop and document several potential models for ‘national centers’.
At SCI 6, the participants will review and reflect upon experiences of the broader scholarly community in digital scholarship, the evolution of humanities scholarship, and examples of the ‘national models’ prepared by SCI. From this stimulating conversation, we expect the following outcomes: (1) identification, description, and endorsement of some possible models for ‘national centers’; and (2) strategies to move the creation of these models forward.
From its inception, SCI has focused on cultivating leadership and encouraging and enabling digital scholarship. SCI 1 assembled a group of pioneers in digital scholarly communication to review progress over the last two decades and lessons learned, and to identify strategies for continuing progress in the arts and humanities. The reflections of SCI 1 participants set the stage for the SCI 2-4. These Institutes focused on several scholarly disciplines, i.e. practical ethics and architectural history, the nature and potential of collaborative working structures, critical questions surrounding the use of new media technologies to advance scholarship in unique and innovative ways, and the institutional infrastructure essential to enable digital scholarly communication. SCI 5 envisioned the possibilities and recommended strategies for visual technologies to serve scholarship across disciplines.
SCI leadership is committed to assisting participants develop real and reasonable goals that can be accomplished. Theoretical and practical discussions are designed to lead to an action agenda. To this end, SCI continues to work closely with scholars and their partners from previous Institutes including practical ethicists, architectural historians, and visual studies scholars.
Richard E Lucier
Scholarly Communication Institute