Public Digital Scholarship: Engaging Faculty in Student Research

Benjamin Rowles, Adam Haley and Chris Long (Penn State)

In the context of modern technologies, “public” and “digital” scholarship are inextricably linked. The possibilities for openness offered by digital tools increase the pressure to make research more accessible, posing questions about the incentives for and the potential scope of public digital scholarship and research. For example, what advantages do they offer researchers over private or non-digital methodologies? How can administrators, faculty, and students benefit from participating? What topics are suitable? How public should “public” be?

This panel seeks to understand these questions via student-directed, faculty-supported research in the online sphere at Penn State. In his paper “Integrating Public Scholarship into the Undergraduate Curriculum,” Chris Long will discuss the development of a new first-year, full-year honors course, Rhetoric and Civic Life, designed to cultivate the literacies of public digital scholarship in undergraduate students. In “The Digital Lives and Afterlives of Collaborative Classroom Knowledge,” Adam Haley will explore the capacity of public digital scholarship to extend the life of a class’s intellectual space beyond the duration of a given semester. In “Online Hub as Individual and Public Springboard,” Ben Rowles will consider the forming of The Troll Bridge: Hub for Research, Scholarship, and Education on Internet Trolling, a web project that aims to promote public discourse on subjects that intend to disrupt it. Public digital research in the form of an online topical hub, he argues, not only removes the need for other researchers to “reinvent the wheel” but also provides the creator(s) with an in-depth and collaborative introduction to the work and people of a given discipline that would not be easily obtained from more traditional research modes.

Taken together, these three papers–by an associate dean, a teacher, and a student, respectively–demonstrate the value of collaboration and make a case for the pedagogical potential of integrating student led public scholarship into undergraduate curriculum.