Blog Post

HASTAC 2016 Scholars Unconference


The HASTAC 2016 Scholars Unconference was the second unconference I have attended, and like the one at Michigan State University last year, I found this one to be a very productive and friendly space to share ideas, approaches to teaching and research, and tools of the trade. 

Howard Fooksman and Mirabeth Braude of MSU, and Allegra Smith of Arizona State University facilitated the Unconference, alongside Scholars Co-Directors Kalle Westerling and Fiona Barnett

Before the Unconference, a collaborative Google Doc was circulated for brainstorming, with HASTAC Scholars jotting down notes of what they may like to talk about in the larger group once on the ASU campus. As we trickled in, got refreshments, and were sitting down, we were invited to write down on the white board what we hoped to achieve during the session. Once we were all together, we each received three sticky notes to write down three topics that we would like to discuss, and the facilitators organized these stickies into coherent tracks for us to join as the Unconference unfolded.



Because many of us at HASTAC are interested in pedgagogy, we all talked about pedagogy within two groups, then shared our thoughts with the larger team. Some topics we discussed were how to incorporate digital literacy into humanities classrooms, how to be successful at online teaching, and the importance of providing students with a space to fail. Sharing experiences, including our own failures in the classroom, is always so valuable, as we continue to develop our own approaches as engaging educators.

For our next break-out session, there were three options to choose from:

  1. Digital Humanities Labor / Grants / Job Market
  2. Public Humanities
  3. Data Visualization and Big Data

I chose the Data Viz track and compared ways of how to get humanities students and researchers up to speed in terms of learning to code. We critiqued the one-off workshop model, and agreed that a solid foundation that starts at the command line, and a collaborative community on campus is the best way to go. 



For our last session, we decided to have a full-group exchange of "Tools & Tech," where we shared with each other what technologies we used, what worked and what didn't. We agreed that sometimes the simplest tools are sometimes the most effective, and also shared great digital humanities research and digital dissertation projects.


The full collaborative document for additional reading!


My photos from the first day of HASTAC 2016

Bruce Matsunaga's photos from the entire HASTAC 2016 Conference




Really enjoyed reading this and thought it was a great summary of the discussions on the day. Thanks for posting this and some great photos too. I have been sharing the photos around QUB in Belfast to gain some support for out HASTAC Scholars programme for 2016-17. 


That sounds like a great event.  I've never attended an "unconference" before but it sounds like a nice option.  Far too many academic gatherings hold little utility outside of a line on a CV.  I think far too many scholars (especially my fellow graduate students) get caught up in a type of performance aspect that hammers home a strange, unecessary formality.  At the end of the day, I just want to learn new things that can help me be a better teacher/researcher.  It seems like this event allowed folks to do just that.