In a Contribute post at the Digital Library Federation blog, Daniel Chamberlain (Occidental College) details the collaborative work that led to the development of his institution’s conception of the Digital Liberal Arts. The Center for Digital Liberal Arts (which Chamberlain directs) partnered with the Library and other campus groups to develop a program that connected the curriculum to the “digitally-mediated lived experience of the community in a residential liberal arts college,” as well as to existing digital scholarship efforts.
Rather than taking our digital cultural condition as a given or focusing primarily on the value of developing students’ ability to manipulate digital tools, we design all of our programs so that digital culture, tools, and methods are subject to the critical inquiry of the liberal arts tradition. We want to ensure that our students learn the skills required to be successful in this digital era, but more importantly that they develop a critical perspective on the values and systems that structure their world. Insisting on this as a starting point has all sorts of implications. It means fewer stand-alone workshops on digital tools and more time scaffolding digital methods into the structure of courses. It means less emphasis on building out a single physical digital scholarship center and more attention to figuring out how digital tools and technologies can be deployed in existing classroom and research environments. For us, it also means developing a staffing model that brings together the skills of people trained in librarianship and those trained in other academic disciplines.
Librarians will be particularly interested in the ways in which Occidental College has emphasized local library holdings, special collections, and responsive licensing practices in support of these endeavors.