Activities (2012-13)

Following the completion in July 2011 of our last planned summer session, SCI entered a new phase of work (1 January 2012 to 31 August 2013) focusing on the following program areas:

SCI undertook concentrated work in these three areas, with continued generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Our goals for this period included fostering further development of new-model scholarly authoring and production processes; rethinking and redesigning the methodological training of humanities scholars and scholarly communication professionals for the digital age; and building support for the humanities by articulating their value in and for the digital age.

These program areas evolved from conversation at recent SCI institutes. Participants’ attention reflected a growing sense of urgency felt by scholars and their scholarly societies, by presses and academic publishers, and by research libraries. The urgency is not only to understand the rapidly evolving landscape of scholarly communication, but to shape it by enacting a clear vision for scholarly communication in and for the digital age, a vision that carries forward centuries-long traditions of humanities scholarship.

Developing a shared vision is difficult given the scale of uncertainty about even near-term conditions—economic, political, technical, and social. But SCI participants and leaders have long agreed that the way to shape the future is to participate actively in building it. That was the goal of this phase of SCI’s activities.

Scholarly Production

Reports and lists of participants are archived here.

In this stream of work, SCI focused on accelerating the development and testing of new scholarly authoring and production models by convening meetings around ground-breaking initiatives in this area: the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, led by Tara McPherson of the University of Southern California; PressForward, led by Dan Cohen of George Mason University and the Digital Public Library of America; and the Modern Language Association’s new program in scholarly communication, led by Kathleen Fitzpatrick. SCI helped participants strengthen and share these models as they developed by publicizing outcomes.

Graduate Education

Reports and lists of participants are archived here.

SCI undertook three related strands of activity to explore and test new programs for the education of scholars and scholarly communication professionals. These were designed to survey needs and opportunities, develop and articulate new models, and foster the growth of collaborative networks among organizations, institutions, and sectors of the academy with a stake in graduate and professional methodological training in the humanities.

First, SCI administered a broad survey of humanities-trained respondents who self-identify as working in alternative academic careers—as well as their employers—to illuminate perceived gaps in graduate-level preparation. The main data, employer data, and a full report are available online.

Concurrently, working with the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and centerNet, an international consortium of digital humanities labs and centers, SCI hosted a number of meetings to facilitate conversation on curricular change at the graduate level and the roles of scholarly societies, libraries, centers, and professional schools in driving that change.

Finally, we developed the Praxis Network, a partnership of allied but differently-inflected initiatives that are all engaged in rethinking pedagogy and campus partnerships in relation to the digital. We are also continually refining and documenting the Praxis Program and Graduate Fellows models of methodological training and early-career research support offered by the Scholars’ Lab at the UVa Library.

The Value of the Humanities

Case statement available here.

At the final session of the Scholarly Communication Institute, participants spoke urgently of the need to articulate the value of humanities in and for the digital age. For some, such a “case statement” would be an important tool for raising research funds. For others, it would be a way to share the value of the humanistic enterprise with colleagues outside the humanities and begin conversations that might lead to collaborations. For others still, such a statement of value would be indispensable in engaging communities outside the academy in shared humanistic activities. In response to these calls for a fresh articulation of the value of humanities for the present age, Abby Smith Rumsey offered a new way of thinking about expanding the footprint of the humanities through translational activities. Much as translational work in the sciences aims to increase research impact by moving toward greater convergence of basic and clinical research, Rumsey proposed that translational humanities can take advantage of the public platforms provided by the Web to share humanities expertise broadly and engage more communities in the creation and curation of human culture.