This January, Professors Phillip Barnes (Biology), Catherine Benoît (Anthropology), and Sufia Uddin (Religious Studies) became the first Digital Scholarship Fellows in a new program generously funded by the Office of the Dean of Faculty and led by staff members in Information Services.
Building on the success of the Technology Fellows Program (2014-2018), the Digital Scholarship Fellows program supports faculty engaged in digital scholarship projects to scope and design their projects, integrate aspects of the projects into their courses, collaborate with student researchers, acquire new technological skills, and build platforms for sharing their scholarship in innovative ways online. The program works toward the College’s strategic plan objectives to offer new opportunities for student/faculty research and to build a community of practice in digital scholarship.
Catherine Benoît’s project will be a multilingual digital companion to her book, Au coeur des ténèbres de la friendly island: sida, migration et culture à Saint Martin [In the Heart of Darkness of the Friendly Island: Migrations, Culture and AIDS in St. Martin] (2015). Students in Benoît’s Anthropology of the Caribbean course are currently engaged in digitizing a portion of her primary research materials gathered in St. Martin in the 1990s. Across the semester, each student will conduct research on one of the thematic threads of the project—tourism, hurricane Luis (1995), St. Martin as an international tax haven, immigration and undocumented migrants, and the AIDS epidemic—and curate a related collection of images, as well as publish an introductory text for inclusion on the public project website. A project team of faculty, students, and staff from Connecticut College has been accepted to attend the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS) in June, hosted at Occidental College, to work on the next iteration of the project. At ILiADS, Benoît hopes to build a crowdsourcing feature that allows site visitors to submit documents and oral histories for inclusion on the website. She will also implement assignments in future courses that will add oral histories, maps, multimedia, and new research to this multi-year project.
As part of the program, Sufia Uddin will create a multimodal website about the Sundarbans Mangroves to present the forest and its inhabitants in ways that foster broader awareness of deforestation and its effects on indigenous communities and the environment. Uddin translated the Bengali epic poem that tells the story of Bonbibi (Lady of the Forest), which she will publish online as a component of this project. Digital methods of working with the poem, including textual analysis, digital annotations, the addition of images, maps, and related scholarship, will provide the means by which different ways of knowing this forest will emerge. Uddin plans to work with students this summer to build an interactive map of the mangroves using ArcGIS software.
Through digital scholarship, Phil Barnes hopes to discover other colleagues around the world working on experiments similar to his own and potentially develop collaborations by sharing his data online. He plans to digitize drawings of insect wings created by his students over the years and develop a new workflow to capture more visual data through digital imaging of the wings. This digital process will yield richer information that Barnes and his students can use in future studies, expanding the original intent of the experiment and making data available that other researchers may be able to use.
In summer 2018, students working with the faculty fellows will conduct some or all of their work in the library’s Technology Commons, developing aspects of the individual projects in conversation with each other. Students will have access to advanced software, and library staff will be available for advising on project development.
Stay tuned for blog posts from the DS Fellows, as well as information about a digital scholarship symposium on campus in the fall!
A call for proposals to participate in the 2019 cohort of Digital Scholarship Fellows will go out in fall 2018.