Blog Post

Technology Is Not Enough: Latest Master's in Knowledge Networks

"It is in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough -- it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices."  --Steve Jobs, quoted in New York Times, March 24, 2011

We have posted several versions of the Master's in Knowledge Networks (MKN) as it has evolved. It is currently making its way through numerous university approval committees and each has invaluable suggestions to make as part of this process.   Here's the latest version.  As always, comments welcome!






Master's in Knowledge Networks (MKN)


 The Master's in Knowledge Networks combines the deep critical and historical thinking skills of the humanities with technology and project management expertise in order to prepare a new kind of innovator and communicator for a challenging future.

Purpose: The Master's in Knowledge Networks (MKN) is designed for innovators working at the intersection of technology and the humanities. It provides students the opportunity to analyze and develop new interactive digital modes of reading, writing and multimedia communication in areas ranging from community, commerce and politics to social life and scholarly research.

Driven by the increasing importance of social media and networking relative to print and traditional media, this intensive, hands-on program situates online networking and knowledge practices within the critical perspectives of the humanities and interpretive social sciences, from the history of the book, printing press and comparative media studies to the web, social media, blogs and post-PC mobile devices. As with other Digital Humanities programs, the Master's in Knowledge Networks requires that students possess the technical and project management skills to develop their own digital media projects. Students will also develop the skills to extract, analyze and interpret data from knowledge networks, enabling them to devise, plan, and implement responsive strategies.
Scope: The MKN examines the relationship between knowledge production and the politics and policies of knowledge dissemination, including conditions of community, culture and conflict, and the demographics of access, poverty, race, gender, age, religion and geography. The program explores how knowledge systems and networks can be used to promote or impede the free expression of ideas, and explores new global methods and networks (such as the Investigative News Network) for developing commercial and community alternatives to traditional media. Topics range from open web development, hacktivism, citizen journalism, crisis mapping and data journalism to legal issues of copyright, patents and licensing. The program includes interactive labs where students will use and develop tools from applications for mobile devices to 3D user interfaces for virtual and augmented reality.
Method: MKN uses open access resources for peer-to-peer sharing and assessment, and organizes project-based learning through interactive collaboration and iteration. In partnership with nonprofit and commercial software developers, students will have the opportunity to beta test cutting-edge new technology and applications. Drawing on HASTAC's method of collaboration by difference, MKN gathers students with diverse disciplinary and cultural expertise to work together to build products. Building on Dewey's principles of thinking and doing, theory and practice, and knowing and making, MKN students develop practical expertise and project management skills through intensive residencies and practicums at community, arts, learning or news organizations, universities, multinational corporations or small businesses.
Comparison to Existing Programs: The Master's in Knowledge Networks draws upon and updates established graduate programs throughout the country, ranging from the humanities and social sciences, media arts, computer science and information sciences to journalism, public policy, business and communications. These programs include Digital Humanities; Science, Technology, and Society Studies; Design and Media Arts; Arts and Computation; Comparative Media and Society; Social Media and Markets; New Media Journalism; Community Informatics; Media, Culture and Communication; and Computer Science and Journalism at peer universities such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan, MIT, NYU, Northwestern, USC, Stanford and the University of Virginia.
 Institutional Home: Housed within the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke, the MKN supplements the goals and methods of the Franklin Humanities Labs. For 2011-12, the Franklin Humanities Institute will sponsor three Humanities Labs:

  • Haiti Lab, based in the Romance Languages and Literature and History Departments, extending to Global Health and Information Science and Information Studies.   
  • BorderWorks, focusing on geo-location and issues of nation, migration, space and exile.
  • Greater than Games, developing and analyzing online multiplayer games for learning and social change.    

 The MKN is virtually housed within the international knowledge network of HASTAC, the Humanities, Arts, Sciences and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, with over 5600 individual registrants and 200 HASTAC Scholars (primarily graduate students) supported by scholarships from over 75 universities across North America and abroad. HASTAC's international administrative headquarters and HASTAC@Duke are located in the Franklin Humanities Institute in the newly renovated Smith Warehouse.
Legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin: Inspired by the famed historian and civil rights activist John Hope Franklin, the Franklin Humanities Institute is dedicated to the principle that knowledge should be shared. Shortly before his death in 2009 at the age of 94, Dr. Franklin cited the advent of mobile phones as the most important technological development of his lifetime, with their potential to extend new democratic forms of knowledge, commerce, communication and community. The Master's in Knowledge Networks pays tribute to Dr. Franklins vision.
Key Features: 

  • Two-year program at Duke University.
  •  40-hour technology skill-building and assessment workshop. This includes     assessment of basic programming, database design or web development technology requirement for all students in the MKN, equivalent to one year of study or equivalent proficiency. Students without this level of skill must develop a plan for filling the requirement prior to receiving the MKN.
  •  Four required core courses: History and Future of (Multimedia) Reading, Writing and Communication; Twenty-First Century Literacies; Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age; and Assessment and Data-Mining for a Digital Age.
  •  Four elective courses selected in consultation with the MKN advisor.
  • Extended academic year residency in a private or public organization, business or at the Franklin Humanities Lab, supplemented by an ongoing proseminar and culminating in a Master's project.
  •  Intensive final resume-building, career-assessment and preparation workshop.


Peer-to-peer pedagogy: Rather than standard research papers, much student learning and experience (both real world and classroom) in the MKN will be peer-guided, collaborative, and public, resulting in open, online resources and courseware. Students will work in partnership with HASTAC and open-source industry partners (such as Mozilla Foundation and P2PU) to develop the best methods for delivering free and open course content to the public, and on new methods of assessing learning in those courses.

For more information or to be added to the MKN mailing list, send an email to


1 comment

whoa. i love this Cathy. once again - huge bravo to your work.


kids created a 4 year plan of disruption last year.

the bare skeleton:

k-8 - vast exposure through gamging, programming, logic

9-12 - quasi college - choosing courses/teachers per passion with guidance of mentor(s)

12+ - quasi career - much like you have described here.