The HASTAC scholar program, open to students in under-graduate and graduate programs all over the country participate in several forums each year. Hosted by members of the scholar program, who put together the question and topic prompts, the first HASTAC scholars forum of the year is about Democratizing Knowledge.

The posts range in discussion from people already engaged in some form of community based research, how the internet helps/hinders education, public engagement, as well as how new media affects all aspects of academia.

The hosts for the forum are Bridget Draxler from the University of Iowa, Jentery Sayers from the University of Washington, Edmond Y. Chang from University of Washington, and Peter Likarish University of Iowa.

The website describes the forum in this way:

Obermann Graduate Institute for Public Engagement at the University of Iowa, the Center for Teaching at the University of Iowa, and the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington aim to democratize knowledge to reach out to “publics,” share academic discoveries, and invite an array of audiences to participate in knowledge production.  Of course, emerging technologies and media offer the potential to widen even further the reach of public scholarship and the breadth of community partnerships.

More specifically, in the context of the digital humanities, democratizing knowledge often refers to making scholarship public, to opening access to university resources and research through, for example, the creation and preservation of digital archives and journals.

For scholars, these projects afford rich possibilities for deep collaborative work that is ongoing and historically absent from the humanities’ scholarly paradigm. 

Yet practitioners of the digital humanities can also democratize knowledge by collaborating with their community partners to produce public scholarship, often through action research, experiential learning, and civically engaged pedagogy, all of which ultimately re-situate and reformulate expertise.  According to Teresa  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”Teresa “>Mangum (faculty at University of Iowa and co-director of the Obermann Institute on Public Engagement), as with new information technologies, public scholarship can radically redefine who finds, owns, and gives knowledge.  Put this way, the goal is for practitioners to forward research and pedagogy while serving the community in a way that is a truly reciprocal partnership.

With democratizing knowledge and the digital humanities in mind, we are interested in learning more about people’s varying experiences in (and theories on) the use of emerging technologies and media to make scholarship public and/or produce public scholarship.

The specific questions that the scholars hope to answer are:

+ The requirements, terms, goals, practices and hopes for public scholarship or engaging with public(s) vary depending on the project and groups interacting. What are your best practices for developing and implementing projects with your community?

+ What are the benefits and risks to consider when developing community-driven or joint academic-community projects?

+ How are terms like “democracy,” “public,” and “scholarship” mobilized in digital humanities projects, for whom, and to what effects? What are the assumptions, definitions, and desires attached to each of these terms?

+ How do community partnerships affect perceptions and deployments of expertise? Does the notion of “the expert” change or collapse?”

+ How do you evaluate different forms of technology for your public knowledge projects? Have some forms of technology been more useful or productive than others?

Do any or all of these questions interest you?

Have an opinion on any or all of these topics?

Let me know by commenting.


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