For its unique approach to digital humanities education, the Graduate Center’s Digital Fellows program has been selected to join the innovative Praxis Network (http://praxis-network.org/), a new partnership of seven graduate and undergraduate humanities education initiatives focused on preparing graduates for a wide range of careers in the digital age.
Organized by the Scholarly Communication Institution of the University of Virginia (UVA), the Praxis Network grew out of their own “Praxis Program,” which is dedicated to producing humanities scholars “who are as comfortable writing code as they are managing teams and budgets.” “The Praxis Network is rethinking the form and nature of graduate education in the digital age,” says Matthew K. Gold (Assoc. Prof., NYCCT, Liberal Studies M.A.), who serves as a faculty member of the GC’s Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program and advisor to the provost for digital initiatives. “All of the programs in the network are doing something new and distinctive, and it is an honor for us to be highlighted in such good company.”
Since the Praxis Network expects its members to serve as models for other institutions interested in implementing similar programs on their own campuses, each program selected to join the network has a unique mission, structure, research goal, and funding model. At the GC, for example, financial support for the Digital Fellows program comes entirely from the Provost’s Office. The fellows, who represent a range of disciplines, are connected to a larger strategic vision for the GC as a whole.
“The Digital Fellows program is part of a rethinking of the university and its relationship to digital technology and how to integrate it into research and teaching,” Gold explains. “Provost Robinson and President Kelly have been forward-thinking in recognizing the impact of digital technology on graduate education.”
Still in its first year, those in the GC’s Digital Fellows program have watched—and learned—as the program continues to evolve. Early on, for example, each fellow had the opportunity to build a website for the GC—be it for the Provost’s Office, the Digital Scholarship Lab, or the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC).
“I learned a lot by being given the responsibility of managing the creation of a website,” says Hillary Miller, a doctoral candidate in theatre. “I would never have had the opportunity for this type of experience if it were not for this fellowship.”
Laura Kane, a third-year doctoral student in philosophy, has also been influenced by her work as a digital fellow. One of her ideas—to offer a series of workshops to students and faculty members about how they can use digital tools to enhance their research—has been a big hit, with most sessions filling to capacity and garnering long waiting lists. (For information about upcoming sessions, see http://digitalfellows.commons.gc.cuny.edu/workshops/). “I used to be sure that I’d be taking the path of a straight academic,” she says. “But now I think that I might have a bigger impact doing this sort of work.”
This summer, directors of the Praxis Network programs will be meeting to discuss the network’s next steps, says network founder Bethany Nowviskie, director of digital research and scholarship at the UVA library and president of the Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH). Possibilities include collaborations across the network, travel and mentorship opportunities, and an expanded list of programs, she says. These plans build on what the GC’s Digital Fellows see as the biggest strengths of this group.
“People talk about how bifurcated their experiences as graduate students are,” says Miller. “But working in a digital environment expands my network. I get to read others’ blog posts and writings. It hooks me in to all these different projects.”
Kane agrees. “I think the Praxis Network is fantastic,” she says. “I really like the spirited collaborative mentality that it brings out.”
In addition to the GC and UVA, other schools in the Praxis Network are Michigan State University, Hope College, University College London, Duke University, and Brock University.