I was asked to ponder what the Digital Humanities initiative at Queen’s had accomplished over the past two years. I think it’s a great idea to reflect occasionally on where we have come from so as to have a better sense of where we are going; who we are serving, inspiring and empowering and how we might do this better. As I was going through this quick exercise I thought I’d share these ponderings publicly in the interests of all those who have participated from Queen’s and from the wider community – so as to remind, and to solicit suggestions for the future. None of this is a big secret – far from it. We have begun something significant here and it’s definitely worth the time to reflect on it.
Over the past two years a collaborative partnership between Special Collections in the Library and the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities has begun to lay the framework, develop and build the capacity and inspire an infrastructure for a coordinated and lasting Digital Humanities presence at Queen’s University.
In the first instance we have sought to liaise between the various stakeholders at Queen’s to determine needs and develop, deploy and deliver dedicated Digital Humanities training workshops and seminars.
This has involved over 25 local workshops and seminars on a wide variety of topics and skills, invited speakers and participation on behalf of Queen’s in external events. Nearly two hundred scholars (including lecturers, post-docs, post-grads and other members of the community) have participated in events delivered as part of the Digital Humanities initiative.
From a pedagogical perspective we have developed seventeen (17) focussed and bespoke workshop modules that have been refined and evolved over these to years supporting the changing needs of the community at Queen’s. These include:
- Introduction to Digital Humanities ( QUB001 – 4 hrs)
- Introduction to Omeka (QUB003 – 2/4 hrs)
- Advanced Omeka Authoring and Integration (QUB013 – 3hrs)
- Introduction to Data Visualisation (QUB002 – 2/4 hrs)
- Tools for Digital Scholarly Innovation (QUB014 – 2 hrs)
- The Digital Transformation of Research (AHS7001 – 6/8 hrs)
- Requirements Engineering for Humanities Scholars (QUB006 – 3/6 hrs)
- Content Management and Digital Object Management: Omeka versus WordPress (QUB007 – 2/4 hrs)
- Google Tools for Scholarship (QUB010 – 2 hrs)
- An Introduction to SIMILE Exhibit for Humanities Research (QUB005 – 2hrs)
- Exhibit versus Palladio (QUB009 – 2 hrs)
- Constructing Narratives Using Digital Objects (QUB003.5 – 6 hrs)
- Putting Your Data on the Map (QUB008 – 2/4 hrs)
- Digital Project Management (QUB004 – 2/4 hrs)
- Intro to Network Analysis for Humanities Scholarship (QUB011 – 2/3 hrs)
- Visualising Space and Time: An Introduction to Spatial and Temporal Visualisation (QUB015 – 3 hrs)
- An Introduction to Leaflet and GeoJSON (QUB012 – 4hrs)
- An Introduction to Trello for Team Process Management (QUB017 – 2hrs)
This Digital Humanities initiative has also supported the college-wide initiative AHS7001 post-grad course offering a module providing a condensed exploration of the Digital Transformation of Research for the past two years.
These activities have been predicated upon a longer term project that envisions evolving our internal capabilities through targeted capacity building amongst staff. This has involved raising awareness through a robust and value-focussed website that features the potentials and opportunities involved in emerging digital methodologies and tools and demonstrates and inspires by illustrating their application to traditional disciplinary practices.
Further activities have supported emerging opportunities for Queen’s scholars by conducting informal consultation sessions and participation in a variety of grant applications.
We have additionally worked with our colleagues in Special Collections to provide in-house digital collection hosting services and provide specialised instances of a series of Open Source software packages responding to the increasing amount of scholarly digital output generated through the initiative.
As a locus for Digital Humanities at Queen’s we have also been able to direct that energy outward and have actively participated in the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership in conjunction with Newcastle University and Durham University. In tangible terms we have delivered keynotes and conducted training exercises as part of NBTP Winter and Summer Schools and also helped to build capacity at Newcastle University through their ‘Making the Archive Public: Digital Skills, Research and Public Engagement’ project.
Strengthening internal capacity and fostering external engagement have laid a bold foundation for the DH initiative. The future looks bright for Digital Humanities at Queen’s!