Directors of National Digital Humanities Centers to Hold Summit Meeting at NEH

WASHINGTON, (March 27, 2007)

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland are pleased to announce a summit meeting to plan a national coalition of digital humanities centers.

The meeting will take place at NEH headquarters in Washington, D.C., on April 12-13, 2007. The meeting is part of NEH's Digital Humanities Initiative, which supports projects that use or study the impact of digital technology on the humanities. Digital technology offers humanists new ways to conduct research, conceptualize relationships, and present scholarship to a wider audience.

At digital humanities centers around the country, historians, archaeologists, and other humanities scholars have been working with computer scientists and engineers to develop innovative ways of applying emerging digital technologies to the humanities. These collaborations have created new methods of conducting research, interpreting archival data, and teaching the humanities.

In order to take the digital humanities, and humanities scholarship, to the next level, national collaboration needs to be encouraged between digital humanities centers and funding organizations.

"Digital humanities centers serve as the technological backbone for the future of humanities scholarship," said Dr. Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. "Encouraging collaboration among the centers will serve to speed innovation and replicate success throughout the nation."

Collaborative work done by the nation's network of science labs has produced major breakthroughs, such as the human genome project and the creation of the Internet. As with the science labs, this new network of digital humanities centers will promote the national exchange of ideas and research necessary to generate revolutionary innovations in the humanities.

The centerpiece of the conference is a day-long discussion of key issues involved in fostering collaboration, developing funding resources, and creating blueprints for future projects. The discussion will be chaired by Neil Fraistat, Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

"We hope that by the end of the meeting, a framework will be in place for a national coalition of digital humanities centers that can start functioning immediately," says Fraistat.

Along with the directors of major digital humanities centers, representatives from government, industry, and the private sector will be in attendance, including those from the Mellon Foundation, Google, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Science Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, the J. Paul Getty Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Internet2, and Library of Congress.

The conference begins at 4:00 p.m. on April 12, with a welcome address by NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. John Unsworth will then deliver a plenary address on "Digital Humanities Centers as Cyberinfrastructure." Unsworth is the Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Vint Cerf, the Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, will also provide some remarks. A reception follows hosted by the University of Maryland's Dean of Arts and Humanities James Harris, and Dean of the Libraries Charles Lowry.

On April 13, the conference attendees will spend the day discussing how to create a framework for a permanent coalition of digital humanities centers.

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