After more than a year of collaboration and development, several UNC departments have introduced the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative — a program that could potentially change the way students study the humanities.
The digital humanities movement aims to make academic material more accessible online and encourage collaboration among researchers and is a response to the growing availability of information on the internet.
CDHI will offer a graduate certificate program in digital humanities, which will give students a way to study the intersection of humanities and online information-sharing.
“(CDHI will bring) humanities into what we call the ‘big data’ conversation that most people associate mainly with the sciences, but humanities is going to be brought into that conversation too,” said Terry Rhodes, senior associate dean for the fine arts and humanities and co-principal investigator of CDHI.
Fitzhugh Brundage, chair of the history department and a member of CDHI’s faculty steering committee, said his History 292 class has already implemented some use of the digital humanities. His class uses a website called “Commemorative Landscapes,” a digital collection of essays and stories from around North Carolina.
“I think the biggest thing about digital humanities is that it creates a way for undergraduates to engage in original research that has an enduring place,” Brundage said.
As of this fall, UNC is one of the first universities to implement a graduate certificate program in digital humanities — thanks in part to a $1.39 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in June 2012. With the help of contributions from various UNC departments, the funding for the initiative totaled $4.38 million, Rhodes said.
American studies professor Robert Allen, a co-principal investigator of the initiative who helped secure the grant, said specializing in digital humanities will be particularly useful to graduate and doctoral students in their search for jobs.
Allen said there are plans to add digital humanities courses for undergraduate students in coming semesters.