As digital technologies become increasingly ingrained and influential in the university’s practices of research, pedagogy, and public communication, the IAH views a praxis-oriented engagement with these technologies as central to our mission and programming. The thickening of networked, computational software into all aspects of everyday life brings forth new tools to supplement and critique the ways humanist scholars analyze their subject matter, collaborate with peers, and preserve and publish knowledge. Yet, such innovation also impacts the very world we study. On one hand, new tools and techniques offer a radical shift in communicative power with the potential to democratize politics, education, and access to knowledge. On the other, they also magnify the power of states and corporations to shape, rule, monitor, and monetize our political, scholarly, and personal lives. Rather than accept this expanding digital strata as a neutral, inevitable given, we see technology and its reproduction of power as neither adequately understood nor engaged without historical, cultural, philosophical, and artistic analysis and production.
We also recognize the immense and longstanding challenge of successfully imparting humanist students and scholars with the technical skills and interest, rhetorical fluency, and political literacy necessary for a meaningful engagement with digital world. Thus, the IAH hosts accessible and stimulating workshops, talks, and discussion groups related to digital humanities research, tools, and political issues, consults with students, faculty, and programs on ways to leverage digital arts and humanities methods to advance their pedagogical, political, or research goals, and facilitates conversation across departments, divisions, and programs between humanists and the array of cutting-edge digital technology experts on campus.
In collaboration with the Library, the IAH also sponsors a campus “Digital Commons” aimed at expanding channels of peer-to- peer communication that cut across disciplinary, divisional, and institutional boundaries, facilitating cross‐campus networking and community building, elevating the visibility of the IAH’s and themes, and aiding students, faculty, and staff to create public‐facing digital scholarship and resources. We are especially interested in fostering digital literacy skills and confidence in our graduate students as a means to enhance their research methods, online scholarly identity, and competitiveness on the academic and “alt-ac” job market. In sum, we believe that the IAH and UC San Diego have an unparalleled opportunity to become California’s public-oriented, critically self-conscious counterpoint to Silicon Valley, a world leader in defining the positive and substantial role that the public university can play in shaping the digital practices, ethics, and tools that in turn shape political, scholarly, and everyday life.