Towards a reference curriculum for the Digital Humanities

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Manfred Thaller

    Historisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Informationsverarbeitung - Universität zu Köln (University of Cologne)

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In late 2009 the Cologne Centre for eHumanities
started an initiative to improve the cooperation
between (mainly) German universities actively
offering degree courses in Digital Humanities.
Within three meetings the concepts of the
participating universities have been compared and a
discussion on possibilities for closer cooperation has
been started. As a result:
A ‘catalogue’ (
Dokumente/BroschuereWeb.pdf in the context
of – German only, so far) to document the
degree programs that have actively contributed to
the common work has been prepared. It includes
ten BA programs, twelve MA / MSc programs, two
certificates of DH based training as professional
add-on qualification on top of regular degrees plus
one embedded degree within the regular teaching
of a Humanities study program. The universities
of Bamberg, Bielefeld, Darmstadt, Erlangen,
Gießen, Göttingen, Graz, Groningen, Hamburg,
Köln, Lüneburg, Saarbrücken and Würzburg have
contributed to this catalogue. What started as an
initiative of Cologne has in the meantime become an
integral part of DARIAH-DE, a general framework of
projects for the establishment of an infrastructure for
the Digital Humanities within Germany.
Parallel to that initiative, a discussion has been
started which shall lead towards the identification of
common elements of Digital Humanities curricula,
making it easier for students to move between
individual degrees and providing the ground work
for the recognition of Digital Humanities as a
general concept by the agencies responsible for the
accreditation of university degrees within Germany.
The German situation is probably different from
that in many other countries, as two BA and one
MSc program from the list above are offered not by
Arts faculties, but by Computer Science faculties or
Both activities are results of an underlying process
of ‘comparing the notes’ between people responsible
directly for conceptualization and implementation
of the degree courses. This process has so far
been implemented mainly in Germany for pragmatic
reasons: To make students aware of the existence
of the field of Digital Humanities as a regular field
of academic studies on the level of practical PR
activities, you have to address a community which
finds all of the participating universities as similarly
logical choices for a place to study. It is also much
easier to start the discussion of a core curriculum
if during the first rounds all participants of the
discussion operate under the same administrative
rules for the establishment of degree courses.
We will organize a workshop attached to the Digital
Humanities 2012 at Hamburg in order to extend
this discussion to representatives of other university
On the most fundamental level we would like to:
- Present the results of the German initiative.
- Invite presentations of the Digital Humanities
degree courses existing within other countries.
On the level of practical co-operation we intend to
- The creation and maintenance of a database /
catalogue of European degree courses in Digital
- The possibility for improved exchange activities
within existing funding schemes, within Europe
e.g. ERASMUS, between different degree courses.
This will require, among other things, the
identification of elements in different curricula
which could substitute courses required at a home
- In a very exploratory way, the possibilities for the
facilitation of genuine ‘European Master’ degrees
in Digital Humanities, in the sense used by the
European Commission.
On the conceptual level we hope:
- To initialize a discussion about possible terms of
reference for Digital Humanities curricula, which
transcend individual academic systems.
- To arrive at a working definition for the field
covered by such curricula. We are covering, e.g.,
degree courses which try to combine archaeology
with computer science elements as well as degree
courses, which are closely related to computational
linguistics. As these communities are differently
related within different university landscapes, a
common conceptual reference framework should
be used.
As this is an initiative which emerges from
ongoing work and is directed mainly at institutions
and persons which have experience with the
Digital Humanities 2012
implementation of Digital Humanities degrees, we do
not intend to rely primarily on a call for papers.
We will not rely on a call for papers primarily.
During April 2012 a set of documents will be sent
to all institutions in Europe, and many beyond,
which are known to organize a degree course in
the Digital Humanities or a closely connected field,
with an invitation to join the workshop. We hope for
results leading to direct and practical cooperation
within existing frameworks. So the primary target
group of this workshop are the European academic
institutions offering or planning degree courses in
the Digital Humanities. This said, of course we also
invite the wider community to join the conceptual
Participation of institutions we are not aware of,
particularly from those which are currently only in
the planning stages of Digital Humanities’ degree
courses, is very much hoped for. Please direct
enquiries to to receive
additional material from the preparatory round of
discussions and supporting material before the start
of the workshop.
The workshop will run for a full day. The following
program is tentative, to be adapted to accommodate
for proposals and explicit wishes from participants
during the preparatory stage.
09:00 – 10:30 Setting the agenda – reports on
existing degree courses.
11:00 – 12:30 What do we have in common? I:
Parallels and differences in the scope of individual
degree courses.
14:00 – 15:30 What do we have in common? II:
Parallels and differences in the concept of ‘Digital
Humanities’ underlying the individual courses.
16:00 – 17:30 Are there synergies? Creating a
work program to facilitate discussions of exchange
facilities and curricular coordination across national

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2012
"Digital Diversity: Cultures, languages and methods"

Hosted at Universität Hamburg (University of Hamburg)

Hamburg, Germany

July 16, 2012 - July 22, 2012

196 works by 477 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (7)

Organizers: ADHO

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