NEH Grant Promotes Equity in the Digital Humanities

February 9, 2023

The Graduate Center will create a new, open-access resource for digital humanities training.

2023 NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant
A National Endowment for the Humanities grant to the Graduate Center will expand access to digital humanities resources and training. (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

Most humanities programs at U.S. colleges and universities, and especially those at historically underserved institutions, lack faculty trained in the digital humanities — a broad discipline that combines digital technology with humanities research. This scarcity puts humanities students and scholars at a disadvantage because technical literacy has become a sought-after skill on the job market and a requirement for advancement in higher education, libraries, museums, media, and other humanities-related professions.

With a new National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant of nearly $350,000, the CUNY Graduate Center will broaden access to digital humanities resources and training by creating open educational resources (OER) for scholars, curators, and librarians nationwide. The initiative centers on DHRIFT Core, a vetted, open-access curriculum covering foundational digital humanities concepts with a reproducible, customizable, and interactive website infrastructure that can be used for in-person or remote instruction. Other components include a gallery, a wiki, and community outreach.

Since 2018, and with funding from two previous NEH grants, the Graduate Center has increased digital humanities training nationally at colleges and universities through its Digital Humanities Research Institute (DHRI). Altogether, DHRIs have trained 48 digital humanities practitioners in skills such as working from the command line, data ethics and management, Python, text analysis, and digital mapping through workshops led by the Graduate Center Digital Fellows — doctoral students who work with Graduate Center Digital Initiatives (GCDI) to provide workshops, consultations, tutorials, and user groups for Graduate Center students. Participants in DHRIs have in turn led over 30 digital humanities institutes and intensives at their home institutions.

Learn More About Graduate Center Digital Initiatives

The new, NEH-funded DHRIFT initiative is directed by Lisa Rhody, deputy director of GCDI who also directs the Graduate Center’s digital fellowship programs, and Stephen Zweibel, digital scholarship librarian at the Mina Rees Library.

“We are extremely grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for its generous, ongoing support of our work,” Rhody said. “DHRIFT is an example of how GCDI’s community-centered approach to developing tools and resources for humanities scholars extends our local efforts to wider audiences. I’m so proud of the GC Digital Fellows, who since 2016 have developed curricula not just for other Graduate Center students, but for diverse students, faculty, and humanities professionals in schools, galleries, libraries, archives, and museums as well. With this grant, their work will continue to serve as a national model for introductory digital humanities instruction.”

“It's important to make this kind of learning more equitable and widely available, and we believe that we can help do that with DHRIFT and our community,” said Zweibel. “Tremendous thanks to the NEH for this grant. We can’t wait to begin.”

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