Internationalizing the undergrad #dh discussion

For the past year or so, I’ve been kicking around the idea of getting folks involved in digital humanities for undergraduates together to talk about what we do differently, what we do that is the same, and how to build a set of best practices that will be useful to other undergrad #dh programs that are getting started.  I was excited to see some workshops of a similar theme at this year’s DHSI (#3 -Models for DH at Liberal Arts Colleges and #15 Digital Pedagogy Integration in the Curriculum) and thrilled to have a workshop that’s all about hashing out the issues that practitioners of #dh for undergrads face at DH2015 in Sydney this summer.

We’re looking for participants from across the disciplines and professions.  We also welcome students who want to weigh in on what a digital curriculum might mean for them.  We’re also hoping to internationalize this conversation and bring together #dh practitioners from different countries and different educational systems.  The full CFP is below, but we encourage anyone who is interested to reach out to us at startingfromscratchDH (at) gmail (dot) com.


Call for Participants:


Starting from Scratch?: Strategies for Building Undergraduate-Centered #DH Programs – DH2015 – Sydney, Australia – Workshop dates: June 29-30


Do you work with undergraduates in digital humanities programs? Want to share experiences and discuss best practices with other practitioners?


This Digital Humanities 2015 pre-conference, half-day workshop will use case studies of “start-up” undergraduate DH programs as a jumping off point for a broader discussion about whether undergraduate digital programs must indeed start from scratch at each new institution, and whether it is possible to craft a transnational document for DH best practices.


We aim to include participants from as wide a range of geographical locations and roles (faculty, students, librarians, archivists, instructional technologists, IT professionals, program directors, etc.) within DH initiatives as possible.


The central issues driving this workshop are:


  • The challenges of establishing DH programs at teaching and undergraduate-centered institutions
  • The ways in which the pedagogical needs of undergraduate institutions and undergraduate-centered DH programs differ from and dovetail with those of larger research universities
  • The role of and challenges to undergraduate-focused DH programs around the world
  • How the discussions about digital humanities taking place on liberal arts campuses relate to broader questions that animate the field of digital pedagogy


Workshop Structure

At the workshop, participants will present short introductions to their undergraduate DH programs and outline one main takeaway each.  Both organizers and participants will work to draw attention to commonalities and differences among presentations, before opening up the floor to design-thinking exercises and formal discussions designed to add material to the whiteboard scaffold.


The workshop itself will:

  • Invite participants to share different approaches to undergraduate-centered DH programs, incorporating global perspectives
  • Workshop some general solutions to common undergraduate-DH problems, share local challenges, and collaborate on strategies for particular problems
  • Define common principles and pedagogical reasoning, keeping in mind the variety and experimental nature of different initiatives
  • Explore the many different forms of undergraduate-focused digital programs
  • Chart recent developments in digital liberal arts pedagogy


In addition to sharing insights from different programs during an in-person session, this workshop also aims to codify some best practices for building and sustaining new digital humanities programs for undergraduates.  Drawing on the success of crowd-sourced best practices, we will compile what we’ve learned into a collaborative, public document  that speaks to the needs of undergraduates, their teachers and their institutions in the digital age.



In advance of the workshop, participants will be invited to scaffold a best-practices whitepaper identifying different pedagogies, challenges and questions they want the workshop to address.  A version of this document will be circulated in advance of the workshop.  After the conference, presenters will work together to transition the document into a more formal whitepaper and to compile an accompanying bibliography, linking the issues raised to the existing literature.


This public document will be informative, rather than prescriptive.  It is intended to highlight the practitioners’ points of view.  It will share and solicit contributions from attendees as well as those not present.  Overall, the goal of this workshop and whitepaper is to share undergraduate DH practitioners’ experiences, with an eye to how others around the world  can learn from or build upon those experiences.


Submission Guidelines


Please draft a ~500 word narrative of your experience working with undergraduates on digital humanities programs/ projects/ initiatives. Your narrative should be submitted to startingfromscratchDH (at) gmail (dot) com by March 31st.


Proposals might share issues encountered while building undergraduate-centered DH programs, identify successful strategies for undergraduate DH education, or highlight possibilities for future DH pedagogical developments.


We will notify applicants by the week of April 6th.


Workshop Program Committee

  • James Baker, The British Library
  • Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Davidson College
  • Mark Sample, Davidson College
  • Jentery Sayers, University of Victoria
  • Anelise Hanson Shrout, Davidson College
  • Sara Sikes, Massachusetts Historical Society