We offer the following recommendations as suggestions for jump-starting change.
- Foster strategic thinking about the relation of DH centers to the institution:
- Create a narrative about why DH centers are important to the life of the university. This narrative could include a mission statement contextualizing the DH center within the narrative of what is happening with the humanities that is also aligned with the institutional mission and priorities as framed in the current strategic plan.
- Propose an NEH-funded, Advanced Institutes for DH center directors on this issue
- Investigate how to use Facilities and Administration funding streams for professional development or professional memberships. Ask about how groups on campus tap into indirect costs and gather data on what kind of funding comes back to centers and labs from indirect costs. Perhaps share this information among DH centers to increase awareness.
- Integrate DH centers and activities with the curricular mission: “Digital across the curriculum”
- Run a workshop for administrators.
This workshop could be with deans of libraries at the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), possibly in collaboration with the Taiga Forum (for Associate and Assistant University Librarians as well as Associate Deans, and Assistant Directors of research libraries).
- Gather statistics about the background of students who are working at DH centers.
It could be useful to compare this data with data about iSchool graduates and all humanities PhDs. Ideally, this study would be longitudinal with follow-up. Possible questions could concern their undergraduate or graduate major, the literacies or skill sets they acquired, and the paths they followed after their time in a DH center. An organization such as CenterNet could take leadership in this in partnership with the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the Digital Library Federation (DLF), and iSchools. As a shorter-term and informal exercise, centers could produce this information on a local level and contribute the data to CenterNet for sharing and distribution. A wonderful example of this work is the Humanities Indicators project, in particular section III: Humanities Workforce http://www.humanitiesindicators.org/content/hrcoIII.aspx.
- Focus on training and formation on the job and encourage people to think about these issues.
Create a development plan for DH center staff, making as much travel, education, and professional development money available for staff as for faculty and encouraging team development in groups to facilitate expertise-sharing. Make it part of the culture to dedicate part of grant funding and other resources to this professional development by encouraging funding agencies to recognize this as an important part of overall project development.
- Hold and participate in job fairs for humanities graduate students.
PhDs need to learn how to address employers outside of academia. At the same time, many institutions may already have job fairs for alternative careers, not focused on digital humanities so it is essential that DH centers participate in these fairs.
- Prepare some guidance for individual faculty to talk to local career center to organize an “alternate careers in the humanities” event and program
- Connect with cultural heritage institutions, etc., to send representatives
- Get funding agencies such as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation interested in funding an MLA or AHA-related activity, in the service of sustainability
- Create regional meetings (e.g., NERDS, MADS) in an unconference or THATCamp spirit; invite cultural institutions, other employers to come
- Focus a track at a future conference (possibly IMLS-funded) to discuss these professional development issues
- Create internships for humanities graduate students.
Shift post-doctoral and external internship programs in DH into local PhD programs. For example, the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Academic Libraries supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources and the IMLS-funded internship programs at three graduate iSchools (the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, the University of Michigan School of Information, and the University of Texas Austin School of Information) are collaborating with MITH, CDRH, and MATRIX to create a model internship program for students interested in careers in digital humanities centers and digital libraries. We suggest that centers should encourage central administration at the university to fund these kinds of programs locally and to establish deep ties between the DH centers and humanities departments.