Blog Post

Looking back at the 2008-2009 HASTAC Scholars Program

Dear HASTAC Members,

I am nearing the end of my tenure as Director of the HASTAC Scholars Program (and will soon be replaced by the amazing Fiona Barnett, whom I will properly introduce in a later post). It has been an honor and a pleasure to be part of the HASTAC team and to get to work with such an amazing group of scholars.

I want to share with you the performance report we sent to the Mentors who nominated HASTAC Scholars for the 2008-2009 pilot year (in the hopes that this might help them to convince their administration to offer up money again to sponsor another Scholar this next year, even in hard financial times). For those of you who are regular HASTAC readers/bloggers/etc., the activities recorded here may all seem quite familiar, but to see it all gathered together at least reminds me what an amazing year it was for this pilot program.

We had a group of 55 impressively diverse, creative and accomplished Scholars. Between September 2009 and May 2010 over 12,650 absolutely unique visitors from across the United States and internationally tuned in (with more than 55,500 views) to one of the 13 HASTAC Scholars Discussion Forums hosted on the HASTAC website. These forums were facilitated by different HASTAC Scholars, featured an array of distinguished guests, and were all addressed to HASTAC's three missions: new media, critical thinking, and participatory learning, in any and all possible configurations. The forums focused on such vital and timely topics as ?Academic Publishing in the Digital Age,? ?Fair Use and the Future of the Commons,? ?Blogging and Tweeting Academia? and ?The Future of the Digital Humanities,? and featured such distinguished participants as Brett Bobley (Director of the Office of Digital Humanities for the National Endowment for the Humanities) and Howard Rheingold (pioneer of social networking and author of Smart Mobs). See the report below for a complete list of these discussion forums.

The HASTAC Scholars also blogged regularly on a diverse array of topics, participated in many national and international conferences, tweeted and spread the word about their activities, events at their universities and HASTAC happenings. They not only contributed to, but in fact inspired a vibrant conversation about the future of higher education and the humanities, arts, and interpretive social sciences in a technological age. The report that follows includes many numbers and details about the Scholars? performance this past year, but the bottom line is that the program was so successful that we decided to expand it in 2009-2010 and open it to the public, inviting nominations in an open call on the HASTAC site.

If you would like to nominate a HASTAC Scholar for the 2009-2010 program there?s still time! Nominations will run until July 31. We?ve already received several, including our first international HASTAC Scholar from Spain, and I hope we?ll see many more flowing in soon!

I want to thank all of you who participated in our HASTAC Scholar discussions and who make HASTAC such a vibrant, worthwhile community. It is largely thanks to your support that we will get to continue this program that allows the future leaders of the digital humanities to set the agenda and the conversation now, as part of their own professionalization and as a way of revitalizing the work we all do.

Erin Gentry Lamb
Director, HASTAC Scholars Program

Report on the Pilot Year (2008-2009) of the
HASTAC Scholars Program

Prepared by Erin Gentry Lamb, Program Director

Brief Overview of Program Goals & Development


Goals: The HASTAC Scholars Program was created 1) to recognize and offer visibility to students working in the digital humanities, broadly conceived, and 2) to use these students? expertise and collaborative energy to help make HASTAC a more dynamic and interactive virtual institution. The Program?s stated primary goal was ?to bring the innovative work and events happening in the Scholars? home institutions, communities and regions to the attention of the HASTAC network, while at the same time broadening HASTAC?s reach and bringing more affiliates into the HASTAC network.? In return for regularly posting to the HASTAC site, Scholars received a $300 fellowship funded by their nominating institution and a formal letter for their files.

Nominations Process: Given HASTAC?s lack of centralized funding, the Scholars for this pilot year were nominated and funded by HASTAC Steering Committee members and their institutions. Throughout the nomination process, a few other key HASTAC participants were invited to nominate Scholars from their institutions, and in one case, an eager Scholar sought out a nominator from his home institution.

Expectations: The primary expectation laid upon HASTAC Scholars was to be a regular participant in the online HASTAC community. Scholars were expected to ?regularly contribute to the HASTAC blog, to Needle (HASTAC?s information commons), and to a Scholars-hosted discussion forum.? Many Scholars participated offline as well, meeting up at national conferences, organizing groups and events on their home campuses, and in other ways representing their institutions and HASTAC to a variety of different communities.

Program Performance Evaluation: Scholar Contributions


From the Program?s launch in late August 2008 to the beginning of April 2009, the HASTAC Scholars have added over 300 posts to These posts have been blogs, comments in response to others? blogs, comments in forum discussions, announcement postings, etc.

21 Scholars facilitated or co-facilitated the 13 HASTAC Scholars Discussion Forums held throughout the year. During the week of their launch, these discussions are the most visited part of the HASTAC site, drawing in thousands of views, and continuing to draw new views long past the point where people have stopped adding new comments. These discussions are incredibly rich and thoughtful, and are consistently drawing more viewers and comments than many humanities sites.

In 2008-2009, the HASTAC Scholars hosted the following discussions:

?Participatory Learning?
Featuring: Howard Rheingold (pioneer of social networking, author of Smart Mobs)
Host: Joshua McVeigh-Schultz (UCSC)

?Metaverses & Scholarly Collaboration?
Host: Ana Boa-Ventura (UTA)

?Doing Media History?
Host: Whitney Trettien (MIT)

?Fair Use and the Future of the Commons?
Featuring: Critical Commons ( and Steve Anderson)
Host: Veronica Paredes (USC)

?Academic Publishing in the Digital Age?
Featuring: Staff from 2 online-only peer-reviewed academic journals: Transformative Works & Cultures (, Kristina Busse, Karen Hellekson) & Vectors (, Tara McPherson, Steve Anderson, Erik Loyer)
Hosts: Christopher Hanson (USC) and Julie Levin Russo (Brown)

?Participatory Play: Digital Games from Spacewar! to Virtual Peace?
Featuring: The Virtual Peace Humanitarian Assistance Training Simulator (
Hosts: Lindsey Andrews (Duke) & Patrick Jagoda (Duke)

?Collaboration 2.0?
Featuring: Winners of the 2007-08 Digital Media & Learning Competition
Host: Jim Brown (UTA)

?The Future of the Digital Humanities?
Featuring: Brett Bobley (Director of the NEH?s Office of Digital Humanities)
Hosts: Michael Gavin (Rutgers) & Kathleen Smith (UIUC)

?What?s Going On in Digital Humanities??
Hosts: Staci Shultz (UM) & Isabel Millan (UM)

?Digital Textuality and Tools?
Featuring: Geraldine Heng & the Global Middle Ages Project (
Hosts: Angela Kinney (UIUC) & Michael Widner (UTA)

?Making Invisible Learning Visible?
Featuring: Randy Bass, Bret Eynon & the Visible Knowledge Project (
Hosts: Daniel Chamberlain (UM, USC) & Chalet Seidel (Case Western)

?Mapping the Digital Humanities?
Hosts: Jentery Sayers (UW) & Matthew Wilson (UW)

?Blogging and Tweeting Academia?
Hosts: John Jones (UTA) & Ramsey Tesdell (UW)



These forum discussions, and the HASTAC Scholars? regular contributions to the HASTAC site, have significantly increased both the membership of HASTAC as well as the number of visitors to the HASTAC site:



At the same time that the HASTAC Scholars Program has been a boon for the HASTAC community, it has also led to opportunities for the Scholars themselves and exposure for the institutions they represent. Examples of some of these benefits to both self and institution that HASTAC Scholars have identified as arising from their participation in the program include:

  • Networking and Collaborative Communities. Scholars report making connections with practitioners both in their own field of study and across disciplines, in their home institutions and in universities and organizations in the U.S. and abroad. In particular, Scholars note that HASTAC exposed them to new approaches and possibilities for collaborative projects. Many of the projects Scholars undertook fed back to enrich their home institutions. For example, this past year two Scholars initiated an interdisciplinary Digital Media Studies Group at their university that will host speakers, workshops, etc. At another institution, two Scholars from different disciplines collaboratively developed an undergraduate course that they taught, gave several talks about, and presented to HASTAC both at the HASTAC III conference and through a HASTAC Scholars Discussion Forum. In still other universities, Scholars collaborated on a grant proposal, and helped to put on a new media symposium.
  • Communicating their Work. Scholars report learning to communicate their work more succinctly, and in particular, growing more comfortable sharing their ideas with a wide, public audience. Some Scholars used HASTAC as a research tool, posing questions to the HASTAC network and receiving thoughtful feedback from people they had never met. Other Scholars reported that the ideas they began to develop via forum and blog posts on HASTAC have now turned into fully realized projects. Additionally, Scholars were offered opportunities to participate in various national conferences. Thirteen of our Scholars presented papers, posters or acted as official bloggers at the HASTAC III conference in April 2009 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Four more Scholars will be collaborating on a panel presentation for the Association for Integrative Studies conference in October, 2009. As the ?HASTAC@? programming develops this next year?embedding HASTAC components within already established conferences?we expect these opportunities for students to present their work in officially recognized capacities to grow.
  • Developing Pedagogy. Scholars report that HASTAC forum discussions and blogs provide useful ideas for implementing new techniques and introducing new technologies into the classroom. These ideas benefit not just HASTAC members, but the wider university community as well. For example, one student who contributed to a discussion about assigned blogging in the classroom was asked to share her perspective via a faculty showcase. Advanced graduate Scholars reported that the discussions held on HASTAC about participatory learning and using blogs, wikis, social media, digital storytelling and electronic portfolios in the classroom helped them to develop their teaching statements and sample syllabi for the job market.
  • Increased Marketability. Scholars report that their HASTAC experience was beneficial to their experience on the job/post-doc market in several ways. In addition to helping develop their teaching materials and providing an honor on their CV, Scholars report talking about their HASTAC experience during job interviews as a way of demonstrating their engagement with the digital humanities and featuring their networking skills. HASTAC discussions throughout the year exposed Scholars to work both in and outside of their disciplines, and to some of the essential debates currently happening within academia about proposed changes in publishing and the tenure system. Several Scholars who graduated and are moving on to faculty positions next year plan to Mentor their own HASTAC Scholars next year.

The Future of the HASTAC Scholars Program

Because of this incredibly successful 2008-2009 pilot year for the HASTAC Scholars Program, the HASTAC Steering Committee has voted to expand the program for 2009-2010, and will invite any HASTAC member who is faculty or staff at an institution of higher education to nominate a HASTAC Scholar. The new HASTAC website, which will launch over the summer of 2009, will feature all the nominating Mentors and their sponsoring institutions or centers.

We look forward to seeing what new opportunities this expansion of the program will create, and we thank all of you who participate in the HASTAC community for making this possible!


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