New Scholars Seminar

Geoffrey Rockwell (geoffrey.rockwell@ualberta.ca), University of Alberta, Canada y Rachel Hendery (r.hendery@westernsydney.edu.au), Western Sydney University, Australia y Juan Steyn (juan.steyn@nwu.ac.za), South African Centre for Digital Language Resources, South Africa y Elise Bohan (elise.bohan@gmail.com), Edith Cowan University, Australia

1.

The New Scholars Symposium has been running since DH2015. It brings together graduate students and recent graduates in a one day “unconference” where they can develop their own research agenda and prepare for the conference. The NSS also includes an opportunity to meet with digital humanities leaders and a mentoring opportunity for the new scholars.

In the last three years centerNet has supported the NSS along with CHCI. The CHCI funding has come to an end, which is why we are applying as a workshop. The Kule Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Alberta (CHCI member) has and will provided support for organizing this seminar on behalf of centerNet. Rachel Hendery (Associate Professor of Digital Humanities, Western Sydney University) and Geoffrey Rockwell (Director, Kule Institute for Advanced Study, University of Alberta, Canada) have acted as conveners of the New Scholars Seminar. We propose to build on our experience with this format but add new workshop leaders including Juan Steyne from North-West University, South Africa. CenterNet will also be more directly involved with running of the symposium this year through the assistance of the CenterNet secretary, Elise Bohan.

1.1. Target Audience

For the purposes of the Seminar a "new scholar" is defined as someone who is either a graduate student or someone who has received their PhD within the last 5 years (or longer if a case is made for career interruption). Postdoctoral fellows and people in alternative academic positions are welcome to apply.

Participation is by reviewed application and participation is limited to a maximum of 20 people. Typically we support 10 from outside the target continent and 10 from inside, many of whom are students at the hosting university.

1.2. Deadline and application process

Applications have usually been due in April. We intend this to be the case this year too, if we the workshop is accepted in time for this to be feasible. Otherwise we will select the earliest feasible deadline. Applications include i) a Statement of Research that outlines their research interests in digital humanities; ii) a letter of support from a centerNet centre/institute director if applicable; and iii) a short two-page CV. Applications are sent to the Kule Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Alberta, a centerNet member. The applications will be reviewed by the following committee:

Geoffrey Rockwell (University of Alberta, Canada)

Rachel Hendery (Western Sydney University, Australia)

Juan Steyn (Northwest University, South Africa)

Elise Bohan (Macquarie University, Australia)

Adam Dombovari (University of Alberta, Canada)

1.3. Brief Outline: Intended length and format

The programme for the seminar is developed by the participants once accepted and coordinated by the workshop leaders. The idea is to empower new scholars to develop their own research directions and collaborations. This has previously been very successful, developing a program with a diversity of themes that could not have been anticipated by the workshop leaders. There are therefore typically two phases:

  1. Before the Seminar there is an online gathering component using the University of Alberta eClass (Moodle) platform. Participants share their Statements and discuss what they are interested in discussing together. Clusters of research interests emerge which form the intellectual backbone of the Seminar. We encourage leadership to emerge from within the group so that the actual structure of the on-site days will be primarily organized by the participants.
  2. The on-site portion of the Seminar then takes place in the days before the DH conference. Ideally we would have a day and a half for this, but it could be reduced to one day if necessary. The program that we find works includes three components:
    1. Short presentations by participants of their research and interests followed by a social event the evening before the unconference. This helps break the ice and introduce everyone.
    2. The unconference where we spend an initial hour identifying the key issues/sessions that participants want to organize followed by breakout sessions. The sessions are participant-designed and facilitated. When we reconvene, reporters from the sessions report back to the whole group. This can be structured to fit the time available by increasing or decreasing the number of sessions and running more or fewer of them parallel to each other.

Topics for these small sessions on the unconference day in previous years have included:

  • DH pedagogy
  • Amplifying diverse voices in DH
  • Working with archival materials
  • Working with databases
  • Quantitative vs qualitative data
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Web scraping
  • Creating Twitterbots

One of the sessions from 2016 produced a Manifesto on Student-Driven Research that has since been further developed by the participants and submitted to the Debates in the Digital Humanities new series on ‘Institutions, Infrastructures at the Interstices’.

c. Mentoring during the DH conference around careers or opportunities in the digital humanities. This last year (2017) we organized mentoring with senior scholars in the field of digital humanities. Before the Seminar participants identified the sort of mentoring they would like and we (Rockwell and Hendery) then contacted people we knew would be at the DH conference and asked them if they were willing to meet for coffee or lunch with a new scholar. The participant and mentor then arranged to meet at their convenience. This was a new feature of the NSS this last year and those that took advantage of it reported that they appreciated the opportunity. In previous years it has taken the form of e.g. a panel discussion about careers with senior DHers, or small group discussion time with such people. This year we propose to connect the New Scholars with leaders from the centerNet community, both through a networking event sponsored by centerNet, and through one-to-one mentoring opportunities.

1.4. Budget

The NSS has secured support from centerNet and SADiLaR. CenterNet will provide catering for breaks and lunch. CenterNet will also provide support for the mentoring component and invite the NSS participants to a networking event with centerNet leaders. SADiLaR has provided assistance with organisation via Juan Steyn and will further provide full support for one participant from South Africa.

In previous years thanks to CHCI funding we have been able to offer participants a significant funding package to assist them to attend. Many of our students and ECRs have said in evaluations they would not have been able to get to the ADHO conferences without this. As we are unable to offer that this year, we would like to find other ways to lessen the burden on these participants. We do not charge any registration fee for this workshop. We also hope that the conference organizers and/or ADHO might provide discounts on registration for our New Scholars. We will also work with participants from outside North America to find travel and conference support for them from other sources where possible.

1.5. Special requirements for technical support

We would need space for parallel break-out sessions – usually a total of three spaces is sufficient. A single room can work if it is large enough that small groups can sit in separate corners and hold discussions without disturbing each other too much. Apart from this we only need a projector and a whiteboard.