The new digital humanities minor in the College of Arts and Sciences offers students a broad range of career opportunities as well as specific skills.
Digital humanities students will learn computational tools to conduct humanistic inquires and will apply those skills to the world around us. The area of study overlaps with Creighton humanities programs including, but not limited to, English, communications studies, history, computer science and journalism.
Tracy Leavelle, PhD, associate dean for humanities and fine arts, associate professor of history and director of the Digital Humanities Initiative, describes the program: “It’s a set of methods by which scholars and practitioners use technology in the practice of the humanities, and it can go a lot of different directions,” said Leavelle.
“We typically think of the humanities as people in an archive studying a person’s life, or writing about a literary genre,” continues Leavelle. “However, with digital humanities methods, we can study every romantic-era novel written in English at the same time. We can map the social and economic networks of female business owners across the Atlantic for the last 100 years. There are things we can do with technology that we cannot do otherwise, research once impossible for a single person to do or a team of people to do without the technology.”
As a minor, it’s a good complement to a range of majors, including in the humanities and social sciences in journalism, computer science and more. Students enrolled in the digital humanities minor will develop hands-on skills that can be applied in a variety of careers, from web-based publishing to sophisticated mapping using GIS (geographic information systems) software.
Recently, Simon Appleford, PhD, assistant professor and associate director of the Digital Humanities Initiative, was invited to give a special tour and commentary of Omaha’s Durham Museum exhibition, “Searching for the Seventies.” The traveling exhibition displays crowd-sourced 1970s artifacts and photographs from the National Archive. Appleford uses his extensive knowledge of digital humanities to inform museum-goers of the era and artifacts displayed.
“I discuss the 1960s protest movement, and the longer consequences of those protests and how that affected the 1970s,” said Appleford. “We explore reactions to the environmental movement, human rights campaigns and the cultural shift that underscore increasing liberal attitudes towards sexuality and culture in general, the impact of movies and TV.”
The College of Arts and Sciences professor’s research focuses on the intersections of digital humanities, visual culture and 20th-century U.S. cultural and intellectual history for freshman- to senior-level students. Appleford’s current research uses digital technologies to explore how the political cartoonist Herbert Block, better known as Herblock, articulated and channeled the currents of postwar liberalism.
“Students with digital humanities backgrounds tend to have a broad trajectory after graduation,” said Leavelle. “There are a lot of opportunities for students with experiences and skills that combine writing and analytics and technical skills gained in project work, so you can imagine the range of what our students can do.
“A few examples include journalism with an emphasis on interactive story-telling and nonlinear narratives, public relations, communications, the analytical side of business and nonprofits, or analyzing information on social media. Being able to sense something emerging, the opportunities are endless.”