Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative

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Innovating Academic Practice in the Humanities at UNC

Catalyzed by a $1.39 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI) represents a major university-wide commitment to the digital humanities. Its goal over the next five years is the development and testing of an adaptable and sustainable model of transformative academic practice that embraces faculty research and professional development, graduate and post-doctoral training, undergraduate learning, and engaged scholarship in the humanities.

CDHI is a direct response to a persistent national call for a fresh and bold agenda for the humanities in the 21st century.  The digitization of billions of humanities-relevant materials by libraries, archives, government agencies, and companies has forever reshaped the landscape of the humanities within and outside of the academy.  For centuries, humanists have worked in an environment of data scarcity and remoteness.  From now on, they and their publics will engage enduring and new themes in the humanities within an environment of data ubiquity and super-abundance.  Digital technologies are radically democratizing access to the record of human cultural activity, which, in turn, has profound implications for the creation and use of knowledge by scholars and the public alike.  CDHI offers a new design for the kind of infrastructure and revamped academic practices that, in light of the digital and big-data revolutions, represent the greatest challenge and the most exciting opportunity for the humanities.

The CDHI proceeds from the conviction that digital humanities is not simply a new field or method that should be represented on the faculty of any good research institution these days. It is an opportunity to re-think standard academic practices in research, graduate training, undergraduate teaching, engagement with public audiences, and the dissemination of new knowledge.

Programmatic components of the CDHI include:

  • targeted hiring of three new tenure-track digital humanities faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences
  • DIL/IAH Faculty Fellows Program
  • CDHI Graduate Fellows Program
  • CDHI Post-Doctoral Fellows Program
  • digital humanities curriculum development
  • digital humanities professional development for faculty and graduate students
  • development of an undergraduate data studies curriculum

The CDHI is designed as a strategic intervention, encouraging and prioritizing the development of academic practice in the humanities that aligns with the university’s mission and goals as expressed through (1) 2011 UNC Academic Plan’s call for renewed investment in both interdisciplinary research and engaged scholarship that benefits the public good; (2) Chancellor’s Innovation Initiative and its aim to create a culture of collaborative innovation that stimulates research on the biggest questions that the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences attempt to answer; (3) campus-wide revision of faculty promotion and tenure policies to reflect the value of engaged scholarship, effective use of digital technologies, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Visit the CDHI website to learn more.