Digital Humanities and the Undergrad Gap
One of the most exciting aspects of digital humanities and informatics scholarship, and also one of its greatest ongoing challenges, is the incorporation and involvement of undergraduate students in initiatives and instruction (this can include conceptualization, design, construction, analysis and critiques of archives, visualizations, databases and born-digital projects). Major universities with well-established digital humanities centers and also with well-established graduate programs have been incorporating grad students as research assistants for awhile now, but the undergraduate gap remains a pressing issue. This is the subject of a recent article by Steve Kolowich in Inside Higher Ed. According to leading digital humanities innovator Jerome McGann (and others), the only way to ensure the future growth of digital humanities and informatics scholarship is to actively consider the roles that undergraduate students can play, and the kinds of learning and skills they need to acquire to play those roles. SIUE is a university with a stated mission of ‘excellence in undergraduate education,’ and as such, it is a model environment in which to incorporate undergraduates, benefit from the skills they already have (whether they are aware of these skills or not!), and to further prepare them for professional viability or graduate study via teaching and learning experiences immersed in digital humanities goals and methods. This Inside Higher Ed article provides a number of compelling examples of undergrad-digihum-scholarship in-action, and also invites us to re-think our traditional assumptions of the limits and goals of undergraduate scholarship. Thoughts, anyone?