Scale, Capacity, Care, & Change

Thanks to Bethany Nowviskie for writing and sharing the brilliant “On Capacity and Care,” in which she addresses critical concerns including ethics, blending the opportunities with digital infrastructures and humanities excellence, context, interdependence, vulnerability, and an ethic of care, asking “How might taking care—and taking the concept of care more seriously in graduate education and cultural heritage infrastructure-building—serve to expand our scope?” This is a superb article and critical reading for all who are involved in digital libraries and graduate education.
At UF, we’re working with and through many of the points raised, and we’re grounded on questions of scale (scope, size, quality, level, broader impacts), capacity, growing communities of practice, organizational change, and change. One of the ways we’re working through this is with the new Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate. The Certificate serves to support students by offering an additional credential that helps to validate the work they’ve been doing. More importantly, to me, is that the Certificate was designed to support organizational and cultural changes while building a community of practice focused on humanities graduate education, with broad-reaching impacts for the humanities overall. We designed the Certificate to be without a departmental home and as instead controlled by the DH Certificate Committee with representatives from many different departments and colleges. We all work together, informing and improving processes and activities with our different perspectives and knowledge. The Certificate itself builds on existing courses, with a requirement for at least one to be taken outside of the home department, again creating linkages and connections across our communities. The only new course is the final required capstone, which is co-taught by a teaching and library faculty member, again connecting the community. In the work of connecting the community, we’re also seeking organizational/institutional changes in support of cultural changes. One result of this is the new Humanities+Arts Graduate Coordinators Group. The group now meets, holds events, and plans and works together to improve the work and working lives of the Graduate Coordinators, Faculty, and Students. Other planned work includes embedding the things learned from humanities graduate education–project management, facilitation–into the early parts of the process for both the students and the faculty. This is about adding new skills and training and, critically, about doing so in such a way that it changes our ways of working for organizational and cultural change. In all of this, we’re looking at the problem of time to degree. We can only succeed if we have a lower time to degree in the humanities because 10 years is untenable for the organizational, institutional, and cultural needs for our communities of practice. For scale and scope, we’re working from the DH Certificate as the object/activity to focus and connect our activities, and we’re leveraging this for expansions into and through so many areas of need. Even DH is part of expanded need, as I’m so often reminded and as I was reminded again last night in conversation with a colleague at the Digital Library Federation Forum, because DH for UF is also always Public Humanities. It seems like that isn’t always the case, or at least that DH isn’t always understood as Public Humanities. I’m excited to share more on what UF is doing for expanding our communities of practice in the humanities as focused on graduate education, as it leads, connects, and indicates with line of flight trajectories.  In what UF is doing, we’re approaching with an ethic of care, seeking inclusion of our diverse voices and communities, and seeking out new communities and connections for a qualitative and fundamental change in our ways of working and being.

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