‘Digital GC’ Expands with New Initiatives

August 21, 2012 | CUNY Graduate Center

Provost Chase Robinson has recently unveiled a range of digital initiatives that have begun to expand and deepen the Graduate Center’s commitment to the use of technology in its research and teaching missions. Part of Provost Robinson’s vision to enhance digital scholarship at the Graduate Center, the initiatives range from the appointment of doctoral students with advanced technological skills as Digital Fellows to a Provost’s Digital Innovation Grants program, along with the inauguration of a GC Digital Scholarship Lab.

As part of the Digital Fellows program, selected graduate students will work on a range of digital scholarly projects in collaboration with GC faculty members and staff. Simultaneously, the fellows will take part in group activities aimed at forming a collective support network. “As part of a cohort of new Digital Fellows,” says fellowship winner Hillary Miller, a doctoral student in the theatre program, “we are able to be resources for each other and our respective work in the digital humanities.”

The six fellows are: Erin Glass (English), Andrew McKinney (Sociology), Hillary Miller (Theatre), Alice Lynn McMichael (Art History), Matthew Slaats (Environmental Psychology), and Laura Kane (Philosophy). All fellowships offer $20,000, plus health insurance and tuition benefits.

Students awarded grants as part of the new Provost’s Digital Innovation Grant program will receive seed money in support of their research projects, all of which rely upon inventive uses of technology. Winning projects include: Ben Miller, Amanda Licastro, and Jill Belli (English, “The Writing Studies Tree”), Suzanne Tamang (Computer Science, “Street Medicine Apps”), John Boy (Sociology, “Researching Contemporary Religion in the Age of Big Data”), Micki Kaufman (History, “‘Data Mining Diplomacy’: A Computational Analysis of the State Department’s Foreign Policy Files”), Naomi Barrettara (Musicology, “The Open Music History Project”), Kyle Ferguson (Philosophy, “eTLP: Digitizing Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”), Jacob Lederman (Sociology, “Urban Sociology Digital Mapping and Presentation Tool”), Rondi Silva (Urban Education, “Debunking the ‘Dropout’ Stereotype”), Justin Gladman (Anthropology, “Building a Virtual Museum: Creating an Online Database of 3D Primate Postcranial Models”), and Antonia Santangelo (Anthropology, “The Black Sea Fish and Mollusca Project”).

The plan to support innovative projects through seed funding is in part inspired by a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) program that provides Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants. “The NEH encourages innovation by emulating the big-risk, big-reward strategies of venture capitalists, who distribute relatively small grants to a range of cutting-edge projects with the understanding that some of them may not succeed,” said Matthew K. Gold, a two-time recipient who is now leading the GC’s digital efforts. Associate Professor of English at City Tech, Gold serves at the GC as Advisor to the Provost for Master’s Programs and Digital Initiatives and Acting Executive Officer of the M.A. Program in Liberal Studies.

Gold emphasized that the skilled group of new fellows and the range of exciting projects that have received digital innovation grants provide evidence of the existing technological savvy among GC students from a range of programs. Gold noted that his own work builds on the efforts of professors Stephen Brier, Joshua Brown, and Pennee Bender at the GC’s American Social History Project; Andrea Vasquez at the New Media Lab; and the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program. Current GC digital initiatives have been supported by the Provost’s Office, led by Provost Robinson and Associate Provosts Louise Lennihan and Ann Henderson, and also by the Advanced Research Collaborative, led by Professor Donald Robotham.

Gold is convinced that the GC digital initiatives are bound for success on many levels, both in the wider community and for individual GC doctoral students as they work on the frontier of digital technology. Says Digital Fellow Erin Glass, “I’m thrilled to be involved, and look forward to working with the tremendous digital talent here at the GC.”

For a great deal more about the GC’s current digital initiatives and to keep in touch with new developments, see http://gcdi.commons.gc.cuny.edu/.

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