UMN Program Supports Digital Tech Applied to Arts and Humanities

Research Computing, a department of the Office of the Vice President for Research, is one of nine UMN units that make up Digital Arts, Sciences & Humanities (DASH), a program that supports faculty and students who employ digital technologies in their research, teaching, and engagement work. DASH matches scholars with technology experts in order to bring sophisticated and illuminating digital methodologies and technologies to bear on what are sometimes unlikely research questions.

One DASH program, the Human in the Data MnDRIVE Fellowship, supported the research of nine graduate students exploring the humanistic implication of data in projects such as exploring bot-created anti-vaccine information on Twitter, co-learning spaces for urban agriculture, and participatory mapping for environmental justice, as well as an original participatory art project using weather balloons.

UMN’s Evan Roberts (assistant professor of sociology) and Benjamin Wiggins (DASH program director), and Adler Planetarium’s Samantha Blickhan were recently awarded a $250,000 digital humanities grant from the prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This grants funds an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities, which will be hosted at the University of Minnesota, that will train a cohort of 15 historical researchers in the best practices for developing their own crowdsourcing transcription projects using Zooniverse, a citizen science web portal built and maintained by UMN, Adler Planetarium, and Oxford University.

“Among the many reasons that I’m excited about the Human in the Data MnDRIVE Fellowship program is that our fellows are taking a hard look at the role of and impact on humans in compute and data intensive research,” said Research Computing Director James Wilgenbusch. “Creating partnerships among students with different backgrounds challenges everyone to think outside of their typical comfort zone, forcing them to seek new ways to communicate and adapt analyses to solve new kinds of problems.“