The Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI) is currently convening for their ninth annual meeting at the University of Virginia, July 13-15, 2011. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the SCI seeks to study, develop, and implement creative and innovative strategies to advance scholarly communication in the context of the ongoing digital revolution. This year’s meeting entitled New-Model Scholarly Communication: Road Map for Change brings together scholars, librarians, publishers, higher education administrators, and funders noted for their innovative approaches to scholarly communication. The participants have been charged with assessing new models of humanities publishing, creating a road map for catalyzing the most promising of them, and developing implementation strategies.
I am currently in attendance at SCI9, and recently gave the following talk about centerNet and the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) during a lightning round with Jim Chandler, Director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities, University of Chicago:
As Jim suggests, both humanities centers and digital humanities centers have been historically positioned to help set the agenda for the new humanities to come. Disciplinary innovation and transformation are their institutional legacy and obligation. Their ultimate success at what Percy Shelley has called “the far goal of time,” will not only be measured by whether the two kinds of centers have become one, but whether they have helped to produce a more profoundly interdisciplinary, collaborative, and internationalized humanities, one that incorporates quantitative and computational methodologies and emerging technologies, one that is no longer the “other” to science. Well, “You say you want a revolution. . . We’d all love to see the plan.”
How can these two networks help to bring this transformation about? Beyond the initiatives Jim has mentioned, the two organizations have agreed to work together to build scholarly and technical capacity in the humanities by way of shared grant projects, shared training, and shared events, beginning with the very successful joint conference recently held at the University of Toronto. In the short term, we’ll be working together also on such issues as credentialing humanities work that is collaborative, interdisciplinary, or digital; on impact assessment of humanities work and advocating for its importance; on further internationalizing the membership of our coalitions; on developing new curricular models and degrees; on making students active agents in knowledge production; on supporting new and innovative models for the publication and refereeing of humanities scholarship; on reaching beyond the academy to create a more truly public and interactive humanities; on working with funders to shape new opportunities that foster international collaborations; on advocating for our funders; and on nurturing a new generation of hybrid scholars, working in staff positions that combine service and research components. All of these initiatives are crucial to achieving the larger changes we seek. And those changes are social, cultural, and even economic, as much as they are technological. Achieving them means making common cause with University Libraries and iSchools, two academic units that are converging with centers in powerful ways to constitute the digital humanities and to reconstitute the humanities. It also means working with scholarly associations, university presses, and cultural memory institutions. We have passed beyond what has been called the “Jacobin Imaginary” and may have entered an era of the “Consortial Imaginary”: to make a revolution in the humanities we must be centers with large circumferences.
Follow the discussions at SCI on Twitter under hashtag #sci9.