Digital Humanities Internships: Creating a Model iSchool-Digital Humanities Center Partnership

  1. 1. Paul Conway

    School of Information - University of Michigan

  2. 2. Neil Fraistat

    Maryland Institute for Technology and Humanities (MITH) - University of Maryland, College Park

  3. 3. Patricia Galloway

    School of Information - University of Texas, Austin

  4. 4. Kari Kraus

    College of Information Studies - University of Maryland, College Park

  5. 5. Dean Rehberger

    MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online - Michigan State University

  6. 6. Katherine Walter

    Center for Digital Research in the Humanities - University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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Creative partnership between computer science
and the humanities – what we now call
"digital humanities" – is the cornerstone of
the digital revolution. Cathy Davidson writes
(2008) that "perhaps we need to see technology
and the humanities not as a binary but as
two sides of a necessarily interdependent,
conjoined, and mutually constitutive set of
intellectual, educational, social, political, and
economic practices." Significant educational
challenges exist, however, in creating a cadre
of professionals who understand the intellectual
context of digital humanities research and who
are also capable of building the supporting
infrastructure of digital collections, tools, and
services (de Smedt 2002). The American
Council of Learned Societies' groundbreaking
report –
Our Cultural Commonwealth: Report
of the Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for
the Humanities and Social Sciences
– focuses
attention on the need to "cultivate leadership
in support of cyberinfrastructure from within
the humanities and social sciences, encourage
digital scholarship, develop and maintain open
standards and robust tools, and create extensive
and reusable digital collections" (ACLS 2006, p.
An international network of digital humanities
centers creates and develops access to the
digital documents, images, languages, sound,
and film that constitute the human record
and facilitate its understanding. In a quite
separate but potentially symbiotic movement,
graduate schools of information in the
United States and elsewhere are producing
technologically sophisticated professionals with
deep backgrounds in and commitments to
the humanities. Schools of Information, or
"iSchools" have emerged from a two-decade
long era of consolidation and reform, during
which traditional schools of library science
struggled with irrelevancy, diminished scale,
and a fundamental societal transformation in
the use of new and emerging technologies
(Sawyer 2008). In North America, twenty-
four iSchools have formed a caucus (
) to advance a common
agenda regarding the future of information
studies. John Unsworth (2007) notes that digital
humanities centers can establish new working
relationships between humanities faculty and
iSchool programs. iSchool faculty "are about
half from other disciplines, and humanities
computing is very much about information
organization, ontologies, taxonomies, schema,
preservation, interface design, and other issues
that are studied and taught in [iSchool]
programs. The [iSchool] connection also would
help to activate the NEH/IMLS connection, as
well as the NSF cyberinfrastructure connection."
While the move to develop digital humanities
centers has demonstrated great successes, it has
also meant the development of a number of
unique but remote archives that are in danger of
being lost. Universities in this digital age need to
produce research and graduates that transcend
traditional barriers and ways of working. The
most influential origins of change wrought by

information technology might well emerge from
the humanities and information sciences, which
consider most deeply the heritage and future
of the human experience. The progress of this
interdisciplinary field, however, requires new
models of collaboration among the information
sciences and the humanities disciplines. In
this context it is worth noting that all of
the iSchools involved in the digital humanities
internship program (described below) have
well established archives programs, from which
they recruit graduate students to send to the
participating DH Centers.
This paper for DH2010 presents a new model
partnership initiative to help build curricular
and scholarly institutional infrastructures that
leverage the existing and emerging capabilities
of iSchools and digital humanities centers.
With generous three-year support from the
U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services
(IMLS), three iSchools and three digital
humanities centers are placing graduate student
interns for extended summer work experiences
in digital humanities centers. The collaborators
include the iSchools at the University of
Maryland, the University of Texas and the
University of Michigan; and the DH Centers
at the University of Maryland (Maryland
Institute for Technology in the Humanities),
the University of Nebraska (Center for Digital
Research in the Humanities), and Michigan
State University (MATRIX). The partners
are also developing a collaborative research
program that draws on complementary areas of
expertise and interest in the digital humanities
and information studies. The project is in its
second year, preparing to place a second set
of interns in summer 2010, with a total of 18
internships offered over the duration of the
The DH2010 paper contextualizes the model
internship program within the broader
academic framework of the mission and
activities of iSchools, including the humanities-
oriented profiles of students, a curriculum that
meaningfully combines--in holistic fashion--
computational, legal, informational, cultural,
social, and managerial content; and faculty
research that crosses the two cultures of the
humanities and sciences.
1. Student Profiles
The DH2010 paper presents a demographic
analysis of the students enrolled at the
three collaborating iSchools, demonstrating the
affinity (and enriching the alliance) between
iSchools and DH Centers. A majority of
students enter into iSchool programs with
undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in the
arts and humanities, frequently outnumbering
their more science-oriented peers by statistically
significant margins. At Maryland's iSchool,
for example, approximately 62 percent of
current masters students (or 212 out of 343)
obtained undergraduate degrees in English,
History, Art History, Religion, Classics, and
Philosophy. At Texas, well over half of the
students have solid humanities backgrounds in
literature, the arts, and especially in history;
and show an impressive understanding of
the values, styles, and methods of humanities
researchers. At Michigan the humanities subject
expertise of fully one-third of entering graduate
students is integrated into a broader framework
that incorporates techniques for systematically
creating, managing, preserving and otherwise
enhancing the value of cultural heritage
2. iSchool Curriculum
The DH2010 paper exposes how iSchools have
implemented curricula of relevance to digital
humanities centers, particularly in the area of
cyberinfrastructure. At Michigan, for example,
a suite of technology/systems-oriented courses
teach students how to build and evaluate
dynamic complex websites and databases;
undertake preservation reformatting of books,
graphical, and audiovisual resources; produce
EAD finding aids and other access tools; and
create and maintain online communities. At
Maryland, students are exposed to the legal
issues in managing information and the corpus
of documents – such as donor agreements –
that codify them. Copyright, privacy, freedom
of information, and other topics pertinent to
archives and digital libraries are also covered.
At Texas, a series of courses in digitization for
preservation and access is paired with courses
in digital libraries and a sequence developing
digital archiving practices to provide students
with a range of skills and knowledge pertinent to

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2010
"Cultural expression, old and new"

Hosted at King's College London

London, England, United Kingdom

July 7, 2010 - July 10, 2010

142 works by 295 authors indexed

XML available from (still needs to be added)

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (5)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None