Institutional Support in the Advancement of Technology in the Humanities: Roles, Models, and Collaboration

  1. 1. Robert E. Wright

    National Humanities Center

  2. 2. Willard McCarty

    King's College London

  3. 3. Susan Saltrick

    Addison Wesley Longman

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Institutional Support in the Advancement of Technology in the Humanities: Roles, Models, and Collaboration
Robert E. Wright
National Humanities Center
Willard McCarty
King's College London
Susan Saltrick
Addison Wesley Longman
Keywords: support, role, model, collaboration

While the rapid advancement of technology in the humanities in recent years--particularly with the advent of the World Wide Web and the increasing use of multi-media--has been no doubt dramatic, even revolutionary, the progress has thus far tended to be dependent on the work of individuals or groups of individuals, with or without substantial institutional support, rather than systemic and institution-wide. Colleges and universities, with varying levels of resources and success, are moving to provide technological access and services for their faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and other constituents, but the impact on departments of the humanities is most often uneven, at best. Specialized programs and organizations have developed effective means of addressing their own constituents' particular concerns, but the problems of integrating these into larger institutional and professional structures have yet to be resolved. Moreover, the distinctive roles of different types of institutions--colleges and universities, research libraries, professional organizations, and institutes for advanced study--and the nature of collaboration among them in this new technological environment have yet to be defined, even as economic and other forces press for increased clarity of purpose and of productivity.

In the absence of existing models, it is imperative that these broad institutional issues be addressed if the advancement of technology in the humanities is to fulfill its greatest promise in a manner that is both effective and timely. Specifically, the role of different types of institutions must be more clearly defined (for their own interests, as well as those of higher education at large), effective models of performance must be developed, and an unprecedented level of creative, technological collaboration among institutions with different missions must be established.

The proposal for this session grows out of a planning meeting held in May 1996 at the National Humanities Center, a private, independent institute for advanced study located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. A total of thirty-seven people, including this session's panelists, participated in that meeting, with representatives of universities in the United States and Canada, libraries, information officers, technology programs in the humanities, professional organizations in the humanities, and philanthropic organizations in the United States and Europe. The two-day meeting, "Scholarly and Educational Applications of Advanced Technology," explored the range of issues involved with technology in the humanities, progressing through several sessions: Advanced Technologies, Resources, and Access; Scholarship, Publication, and Scholarly Communications; Teaching and Curricular Applications; Institutional, Professional, and Disciplinary Issues; Setting the Agenda--The Role of Colleges and Universities, Research Libraries, Professional Organizations, and Institutes for Advanced Study; and The Role of the National Humanities Center--Mission, Goals, Specific Initiatives, Infrastructure, and Timetable.

The session proposed for ACH-ALLC '97 would draw upon themes and proposals put forth at the earlier meeting, with particular emphasis on the following sets of questions from two of the sessions:

Institutional, Professional, and Disciplinary Issues: What are the forces that are either driving or resisting the use of advanced technology in higher education? How does technology help to address economic and other challenges facing colleges and universities? What are the likely and desirable effects on higher education in the twenty-first century? What is the impact of work with advanced technology--in scholarship, publication, and teaching--on the appointment, promotion, and tenure process for faculty in the humanities? Should the definition of what "counts" as scholarship in the humanities change and, if so, how and under what conditions is it likely to do so? How is advanced technology affecting the relationship between the humanities and other disciplines, and among the humanistic disciplines themselves? In what fields of the humanities is the use of advanced technology having the most impact, and why? What fields have the greatest potential for its use in the foreseeable future? How is advanced technology changing the relationships between and among faculty, librarians, technologists, designers, students, and others?

Setting the Agenda--The Role of Colleges and Universities, Research Libraries, Professional Organizations, and Institutes for Advanced Study: What are the varying roles of these different types of institutions of higher education with regard to advanced technology in the humanities? What are the most important agenda to be set for the next three to five years, and how can that process of advancement best be accomplished? What institutions are doing the most effective work with advanced technology, and which have the most potential? How can these different institutions most productively interact and work together as we enter the twenty-first century? How can philanthropy and other sources of financial support assist these various institutions in meeting their highest goals with regard to the use of advanced technology?

The panelists for the proposed ACH-ALLC '97 session, all of whom have agreed to participate, would bring to it varying and complementary perspectives, as follows:

Robert E. Wright is Vice President for Communications and Development at the National Humanities Center, a private, independent institute for advanced study in all fields of the humanities, which each year supports some thirty-five Fellows in residence from across the United States and abroad. A medievalist by training with ten years experience in fundraising and administration for institutions of higher education, he would address the broad issues involved in the advancement of technology in humanistic scholarship and teaching, as well as the challenges of securing financial support.

Willard McCarty is Senior Lecturer in Humanities Computing, King's College London, and Editor of Humanist. Trained as a Miltonist, for the last decade he has specialized in humanities computing and Ovidian studies. He would represent humanities computing at a British institution that has recently founded an academic department in the field, bringing with him a comparative and international perspective. He would address the integrity of the field as an area of study, its essential roles within an institution of higher education, and various models by which these roles are currently played.

Susan Saltrick is Vice President and Director of New Media at Longman, a division of Addison Wesley Longman, focused on publishing educational materials for the humanities, education, and the behavioral and social sciences. Last summer, she led the Summer Program in Multimedia for Higher Education at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, in which she also served as producer, working with Robert Hollander of Princeton University, for the prototype of the Multimedia Dante project.

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at Queen's University

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

June 3, 1997 - June 7, 1997

76 works by 119 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ALLC (9), ACH/ICCH (17), ALLC/EADH (24)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC