by Christine Baksi
Dickinson has a rich history of launching and sustaining complex interdisciplinary digital-humanities initiatives. The House Divided research engine is an ongoing collaboration between Associate Professor of History Matt Pinsker and his students that has brought the Civil War to life for students of American history since 2005.
Dickinson has been awarded a $700,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation to support a series of new and sustained digital-humanities
initiatives. The grant will be used to further infuse the liberal-arts
curriculum with the latest digital technologies; to conduct instructional
workshops for students and faculty; and to create a virtual studio to publish
and showcase digital projects, among other initiatives.
Coupled with a
recent grant from the Henry
Luce Foundation's Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment,
Dickinson has received $1.1 million in grants for liberal-arts curriculum
expansion since November 2012.
"The two grants are the product of faculty
creativity in imagining new ways to enrich our students' learning experience,"
said Provost and Dean Neil Weissman. "They reflect Dickinson's commitment to
stay apace with the best new developments in higher education."
to Weissman, navigating and accessing digitized information is a critical
component of research and other scholarly pursuits and is vital to career
preparation. "Digital literacy is a key dimension of students' 21st
century skill set," he said. "To that end, we must continue to enhance our
digital resources and emphasize the library as the central focus of campus
For decades, Dickinson faculty and staff have
developed and used digital technology in both scholarship and teaching.
Longstanding digital projects in the humanities include The Mixxer, a
site similar to Facebook that enables language classes to converse with native
speakers using Skype; House
Divided, a research engine for K-12 educators that brings the Civil War era
to life; Dickinson
College Commentaries, a project that employs digital tools to enhance Greek
and Latin texts with notes, graphics, video and audio elements; and Romantic Natural History, an online tool that surveys and organizes texts, images
and scholarship that link Romanticism and natural history.
will help create and encourage further faculty-student collaboration in the
digital humanities. Internal faculty grants will support significant expansion
of existing digital projects and pilot the use of new tools in teaching and
research, including additional student-faculty research opportunities. An
intensive summer digital bootcamp will better train students for robust
collaboration with faculty on complex digital projects and Dickinson will
annually award students with monetary prizes for the best new-media work.
The digital-humanities initiative will be overseen by an advisory committee
with the assistance of a grant-funded postdoctoral fellow in the field.
Classics Professor Christopher Francese is chair of the advisory
Since 2007, Dickinson has received more than $2 million in
grant support from the Mellon Foundation, leading to the establishment of
for Sustainability Education and, most recently, a Dickinson-led civilian-military
project between select liberal-arts colleges and neighboring military
institutions that identifies opportunities for long-term collaboration.