Blog Post

Welcome, HASTAC Scholars, Class of 2015-16!

What does it mean to be a HASTAC Scholar?

On the most fundamental level,  to be a HASTAC Scholar means someone in a position of some authority and responsibility has entrusted you to represent your institution in a public forum.

Think about that.  It is a big responsibility.  It is an honor.  HASTAC Scholars always list this on their CV and we hear over and over that, at job interviews, people want to talk to HASTAC Scholars about their experiences as part of a network of graduate and undergraduate leaders.

HASTAC Scholars Are Communicators

It is significant to be, as we say, the “eyes and ears” of your institution—to report on what various students and faculty members are publishing (their books and articles), where they are giving conference papers or invited lectures (so you can help arrange informal HASTAC meet ups), what conferences or workshops your institution is sponsoring, what courses are being taught, what innovations are being used in classrooms at your school, what new online tools, methods, theories, ideas, practices, and pedagogies you, your professors, and your fellow students are exploring. 

And of course tell our robust network of over 13,000 registered users (and untold other “lurkers”) about the papers you are writing, about your dissertation, about your research.  Reach out and find others to collaborate with, to work with on panels, on articles, on research projects, on developing new tools or archives or approaches.  The possibiliites are as limitless as your imagination.

Make the HASTAC Website Your Own

There is so much you can do on the HASTAC website.  You can start your own Group, for example, and invite in just a few people, or a whole class—or the world. 

We invite you to become a leader.  How?  By contributing.  Every year, we hear a new voice, someone who understands how to write in public and who begins to gain an audience, who starts a project, a movement.  Go for it!


Collaboration by Difference

One method we champion at HASTAC is "collaboration by difference."  We believe that by working with people from other disciplines and across all the various cultural and technological and national, racial, gender, sexual, religious, ability, and other divides, that we are stronger, better.  "Difference is not our deficit; it's our operating system" is one of our many mottos.  Anyone is free to write about anything or advertise any event on the HASTAC site as long as it is "HASTACy":  you can browse around and figure out what that means--and you will help to define it this year.

Contribute to the Topical Monthly Reading Groups in our series, The University Worth Fighting For

In addition to being the “eyes and ears” of your organization and using the HASTAC website to tell us about your own ideas and tools and research and writing,  as a HASTAC Scholar you are also invited—encouraged—to participate in the eight, topical monthly reading groups for 2015-2016 under the general series heading of “The University Worth Fighting For.”

Each month there is a major topic of interest and controversy.  Some HASTAC Scholars will suggest some bibliography.  Will start us off with some commentary, and then the rest is up to you.   You can enter at the level of high theory or practical classroom basics.  It’s a discussion, and we can all learn. 

You can also take the main topic and spin off your own subtopic if you want.  And tweet it out, please, and let people know about it. 

If you are teaching, here’s a perfect opportunity to teach your students how to write responsibly in public.  Comments are not moderated—but you can only leave a comment if you are a HASTAC network member.  It’s free.  We are scrupulous about how we use your data.  And we expect everyone to treat one another with respect—even when we disagree vehemently.

How HASTAC Works

Behind the scenes of this user-created network, there is a vast and complex administrative network of advisors (some of yours advise the HASTAC network too), and there is a relatively small core administrative team.   It takes a vast amount of work to run what our NSF consultant has dubbed “the world’s first and oldest academic social network.”  HASTAC began in 2002—before MySpace or Facebook, before the oldest science social network, Nanohub.  

There is a full-time network and website manager, Demos Orphanides.  There are HASTAC@Duke and HASTAC@Graduate Center Executive Directors (Kaysi Holman and Katina Rogers).  There are various people working full time on a number of incredibly complex, ambitious, and worthy projects, all funded by grants, all dedicated to “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.”   HASTAC is funded generously through these grants---from the National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and, most recently, from the Andrew Mellon Foundation.   The grants themselves often are quite tangential to what the public sees as HASTAC but the high-powered network helps to serve the communication functions of these grants, and all of the extremely talented, highly sophisticated, high skilled educator/theorists/technologists who work for HASTAC contribute to the expertise and sophistication—and longevity—of this network.

Our Supporters

And none of this would be possible without the support of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute and the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge at Duke University and the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center and the City University of New York, our two main administrative hubs.   A third hub is the University of California Humanities Research Institute which is the where our Digital Media and Learning Competition is co-located, as part of the DML Research Hub, directed by David Theo Goldberg, a HASTAC co-founder along with myself.

HASTAC is the tip of a very big iceberg.  We are so proud of what we are able to do, of all the hard work of many people who sustain this complex technical and social network.

And we are very proud of our HASTAC Scholars who contribute content and ideas and energy to our network.

Your HASTAC Scholars Directors

You will come to know your student co-directors, Fiona Barnett and Kalle Westerling,  well this year.   Fiona is a doctoral student in the Program in Literature at Duke University.  Kalle is a doctoral student in the Theater Department at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.  They are full-time doctoral students, working on their dissertations, and they are also Fellows working part-time directing the HASTAC Scholars.  They are fabulously smart, talented, caring, busy people.  Please use their time wisely! 

Legacies:  Past, Present, and Future

We want your time as a HASTAC Scholar to be as creative, powerful, inspiring, meaningful, and purposive as you can make it.  We hope you will contribute to the legacy of the hundreds of HASTAC Scholars who have gone before you.  We hope you have a wonderful year as part of the network that you will help to shape.





Thank you for this warm welcome! I am very exccited to share ideas that are somewhat unformed and in progress, in the hope that I might enlist the hope of this incredible community to develop these ideas.



Thanks for the welcome note! I'm looking forward to a year of conversations across disciplines and to rethinking the roles and responsibilities of higher education.


Cathy, thank you for the warm and inspiring welcome! The HASTAC Scholars program is an excellent component of my exciting (and sometimes nervewracking) development as a public scholar. I'm looking forward to learning from and engaging with my fellow Scholars and the broader HASTAC community over the next year.


As others have said, thank you for the warm welcome and a bit of history about HASTAC. I'm looking forward to getting to know the community better this year and being more than one of those untold other lurkers! Finding time to balance my family and my scholarship is always a challenge, so I'm excited to be part of a community of scholars supporting and inspiring each other.


Thank you Cathy, this year has gotten off to a great start. So many exciting conversations are taking place within the HASTAC community. I'm looking forward to the ways other scholars are using DH tools in their research.