The Arts & Science Council approved the new Digital Humanities minor on February 14, due to launch in September 2018 at Woodsworth College. The program will be open to students who have completed 4.0 FCEs at the 100-level.
As a discipline, Digital Humanities is an interdisciplinary field concerned with the intersections between the humanities and computing.
Completion requirements of the program will include WDW235 — Introduction to Digital Humanities and WDW236 — Introduction to Spatial Digital Humanities. In these courses, students will learn a basic digital humanities skillset: how to build digital stories, exhibits, and maps; how to analyze collections of data; and how to construct digital models.
Though officially beginning this fall, the core courses had their unofficial debut earlier this year, taught by Professor Alexandra Bolintineanu, Assistant Professor of Medieval Digital Studies.
With both a BSc in Computer Science and a PhD in Medieval Studies, Bolintineanu represents the interdisciplinary nature of the program. “[Digital Humanities] involves studying human culture — whether it’s art, history, literature, or religion — through computing, but also taking humanist approaches to studying computational tools and platforms,” she said.
Undergraduates have had the chance to pursue Digital Humanities in a few different courses such as ENG287 — The Digital Text and CDN355 — Digital Tools in a Canadian Context. In CDN355, a group of students created the Kensington Market Hidden Histories Project. The project, which involved the creation of an augmented reality app to explore the history of the neighbourhood, won a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement earlier this year.
The Digital Humanities minor, however, will be the first opportunity for many undergraduates to get involved in the field. Digital Humanities programs have been cropping up all across campuses in North America. “It’s a growing field,” said Bolintineanu. “In Canada, U of T was one of the few without a [Digital Humanities] program,” even though quite a few professors were teaching innovative Digital Humanities courses.
The minor comes at a time when humanities programs at many universities are facing declining enrolment numbers. The program aims to provide students with the critical and technical skill set that will allow them to translate their skills into “a variety of career opportunities,” according to Bolintineanu. Students of the program will gain a critical perspective on digital technology, and the way in which these platforms shape and are shaped by various social and cultural forces.
The free-standing nature of the program also ensures that students from all disciplines will have the chance to enrol. Bolintineanu envisions the program as “a meeting place for students from computer science, biology, economics, psychology, fine art, [and] literature where they can meet and do interdisciplinary work enabled by digital tools… the DH minor can provide something necessary for students in a wide variety of disciplines.”
Ultimately, Bolintineanu believes that Digital Humanities is a program where “an English student can learn how to make a digital library and a computer science student can learn about the role of ethics, representation, and sustainability in research data.”