Jacob Heil (The Five Colleges of Ohio)
In the libraries of the Five Colleges of Ohio, a project-centered Mellon grant has given the consortium an opportunity to encourage the development of faculty-led, digital, pedagogical projects. Building on an initiative that was focused on digital collections, this latest grant is more focused on tying digital methodologies into curricular projects.
The granting initiative has ambitions to build large-scale, consortial collaborations. As a result, it has proven a productive opportunity to push the bounds of what it means to build a participatory culture of digital scholarship in a consortium that is separated, at it’s greatest distance, by 100 miles of country roads. As we know, the “if you build it, [they] will come” model — a model which, in another context, Robert Zemsky termed “the Kevin Costner theorem of strategic change” — doesn’t necessarily work. Funding is one obstacle, but fostering the growth of serendipitous collaborations requires less Ray Kinsella and more of a Stephen Hawking-esque effort to overcome time and space.
I propose a short paper in which I tease out the implications of these kinds of efforts in the Five Colleges, especially as they test Bill Pannapacker’s characterization of an agile liberal arts structure (in “Stop Calling it Digital Humanities,” _Chronicle_). How do we, in liberal arts libraries and ed tech structures, lay the necessary foundations for digital cultures without presupposing structural designs? What, in other words, does the Digital Scholarship un-Center look like?