Active Community of Learners Engage with the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship

The Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) is a busy hub of collaboration, learning, and knowledge generation, attracting students and researchers from all parts of the University who seek partnership and guidance on digital projects and the field of digital scholarship. The staff in CDS know well that digital scholarship work is best done in collaboration with researchers, regardless of their field of study. While researchers possess a high level of expertise in their specific disciplines, they may not know how to create and maintain a field-pushing database project or how to analyze a large dataset necessary to their research. The knowledgeable and experienced staff in CDS will partner with faculty and other researchers to think through their project ideas from a variety of angles, such as how to visualize data, what digital platforms and methodologies could be used, whether there are ethical concerns related to data acquisition and presentation to consider, and more. The staff also works with anyone interested in learning more about digital scholarship — including absolute beginners — through workshops, courses, and other training and learning opportunities, like the regular DH Salon event series and the new Digital Humanities doctoral certification.

people stand at tables in the digital studio
Collaborations in action in the Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio

The learning opportunities provided by CDS are directly informed by feedback from workshop, training, and event attendees. The doctoral advanced specialization certificate in Digital Humanities that CDS and the Cogut Institute for the Humanities began offering this fall is a result of calls for such a certificate heard through feedback. The certificate provides a formal framework for students to explore digital humanities and build knowledge and skills in the field. The requirements include taking electives that provide foundational skills useful in digital humanities, such as a programming course in Computer Science or a course on Geographic Information Systems in Anthropology. Another requirement can be fulfilled through CDS’s intensive summer digital humanities workshops. By incorporating both University courses and learning within CDS, the certificate program demonstrates how integral these skills are for work in any discipline studied at Brown. Students interested in the certificate can take Ashley Champagne and Steve Lubar’s Introduction to Digital Humanities course this spring 2023.

presentation to attendees in digital studio
DH Salon

The DH Salon series is another way that CDS is building closer linkages with campus teaching and research programs while activating the Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio at the Rockefeller Library. The salons bring together students, faculty, and researchers from all parts of Brown on select Tuesday afternoons to informally discuss their research in digital humanities. The events draw a large audience of highly engaged, enthusiastic attendees and conversation participants eager to discuss the presenter’s and each other’s work. CDS events are well attended in general. One Introduction to Text Analysis workshop taught this semester by Ashley Champagne, Director of CDS, attracted over 50 attendees composed of graduate students and faculty members.

list of names from slave log, landing page of Stolen Relations

There is much interest in digital humanities work that explores questions of social justice and power and work that includes foundational partnerships with communities and affinity groups. Projects like this excite the CDS staff, which has demonstrated strength in this area. For the past five years, CDS has worked with Associate Professor of History Linford Fisher on Stolen Relations: Recovering Stories of Indigenous Enslavement in the Americas, a community-based database project created and maintained in close partnership with Tribal community members. Including Stolen Relations, CDS is currently actively supporting nine projects this fall, plus the publication projects within Brown University Digital Publications, housed within CDS, which is supporting 13 born-digital scholarly publications with faculty authors.

data map from Islamic Pasts and Futures
Data map from Brown University Digital Publications work, A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures by Shahzad Bashir, published through MIT Press

There is no shortage of interest in digital humanities and digital scholarship at Brown and within academia. Through CDS and Brown University Digital Publications, Brown is at the vanguard in this field, a fact not lost on the many eager participants who are part of our vibrant community of learners and practitioners. You can learn more about CDS through its recently launched newsletter or by attending a DH Salon, offered both in-person and via Zoom.