Faculty, Librarians Unite to Digitize Humanities


Four young people standing in a library talking to each other
Ashley Sanders talks to students about Digital Humanities at the Claremont Colleges on August 25th. (Photo courtesy of Alex Mangolin)

A series of meetings dubbed “Brown Bag Lunch Discussions” began last Friday, Sept. 8 with the goal of coordinating faculty and librarians in their efforts to introduce new technologies into the classroom.

The program is hosted by the Claremont Colleges Digital Humanities Department and funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which was designed to “create a sustained and integrated system of support, training, and research implementation [that] will make the consortium a model community of learning where digital humanities methods and tools inform the work of humanities scholars and students at all levels,” according to the Mellon Grant’s proposal. The grant was initially awarded to the Claremont Colleges in October 2014. 

Throughout the first three years of the award’s implementation, course development grants were available for new or redesigned courses. After faculty members applied for this opportunity, a selection committee “[chose] the most robust projects that would be the most engaging and meaningful uses of technology in the classroom,” said Digital Research Studio Director and Visiting Professor Ashley R. Sanders. 

The selected courses were required to be taught at least two times, which generated 50 or more digitally-enhanced humanities classes at the undergraduate Claremont Colleges.

Some of the technologically-adapted projects included a virtual recreation of an ancient site in Pakistan and a storymap of water sites around Los Angeles. Both of these enterprises were designed to enrich the educational experience for students.

The Digital Humanities Department also created training opportunities and workshops for faculty members as a realization of the Mellon Grant’s initiative. 

For the concluding years of the grant’s implementation, the Digital Humanities Department will focus on integrating undergraduate students in humanities faculty research through various courses.

Sanders is sharing these experiences with undergraduate students through her six-week Introduction to Digital Humanities course, which covers five different digital research methods. These techniques include network and text analysis, temporal representation methods, geographic information systems, and data visualization.

In the coming months, the Digital Humanities Department will partner with other intercollegiate organizations, including the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Hive, and EnviroLab Asia. 

Sanders encouraged undergraduates to contact the Digital Research Studio for potential workshops, which would cover topics including Adobe Illustrator, Python Programming, and data visualization methods. 

The Brown Bag Series events occur the second Tuesday and Friday of every month in the Honnold-Mudd Library.

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