The Scholars’ Lab engages in a broad number of pedagogical activities. While our primary constituency has tended to be graduate students as a strategic investment in future scholar practitioners, we also teach undergraduates, staff, faculty, and each other. To help support that work, the following document aims to lay out the shared values and ethos that underlie our engagements with students taking part in our official programs (individual consultations are not necessarily covered in this document). Additional statements of our core pedagogy that supplement this charter can be found in the general lab charter and the Praxis Program charter.
Failure is a virtue. Mistakes are the portals for discovery. Learning from failure is more important than succeeding uncritically. So long as they are reflecting and learning, we will be pleased with our students regardless of the actual, tangible outcome of their time with us. All the same, we have certain benchmarks for our own success as instructors. We hope that by the end of their time with us
- students will become more familiar with technology relevant to their interest and the intellectual stakes of working with it;
- students will be exposed to a range of career paths;
- students will familiarize themselves with the range of resources available to them locally for digital work;
- students will be empowered to act as professionals;
- students will know where to go for help in the future;
- and that students will be prepared to help others.
Professionalization and Outcomes
Our programs aim to put students out in the world acting as professional scholar-practitioners from day one. The outcomes for any given student might change depending on interest and need, but we typically ask for some combination of the following activities from our students during our time with students as markers of this professionalization:
- Regular blog posts on the process
- Conference or journal submissions based on a student’s work
- Workshop presentations, locally or regionally
- Digital project with a web presence
- Final presentation to a local audience
We want our students to own their work intellectually and technically. They should understand the technical decisions made during their work with us. If possible their projects should be hosted on servers and domains that they own so that their work can travel with them.
Frustration is a Feature
This is difficult work, and we expect our students to be frustrated. We regularly engage in the work of processing the difficult emotions that come from trying to stretch and grow. We’re here to help, and we care.
Hacking / Yacking / Stacking
Doing is inseparable from thinking. Technical decisions are intellectual ones. Conceptual decisions have technical ramifications. And all of our conversations and actions are informed by institutional structures that inform the work we do. Our students will critically engage in all three areas.
We trust in students, in their ability to excel, to master material, and to make intellectual contributions early, often, and at a professional level when given the chance.
We teach the whole person and believe that the personal difficulties and successes of a student can not be separated from their professional development.
Our students get their hands dirty. We do the work with you – not for you. Our ideal classroom is one in which the students are also teachers, of each other as well as of us. You don’t need to learn everything, but we do expect you to try and learn. We’ll help you figure out how.
We all feel like imposters sometimes – if not today, probably tomorrow. In the Lab, we typically work with humanists who have a wide variety of technical and personal experiences, some more or less than others. We believe introduction to this work should be available based on interest-not background-and we are committed to helping students gain confidence both in their expertise and as learners. Our success is measured by our ability to bring along the person struggling the most, and if our approach to teaching is not working for you we will change it. We believe in our students and our colleagues, and we will work to create a supportive environment that helps them believe in themselves. We believe in you.
We aim to empower students to explore new interests that they might have previously thought themselves unable to try. This is a space to stretch and fail, to grow and discover. Our year together is an invitation to our students to see themselves differently.
Careers and Imagined Futures
The Scholars’ Lab student programs aim to expose students to a variety of careers within the academy, within libraries, and within a broad definition of digital humanities. Interstitial careers like those held by the Scholars’ Lab staff are viable options for many graduate students, but visibility is a first barrier to to taking initial steps in those directions. Beyond developing the skills necessary to head down one of these career paths, then, our programs are meant to put students in touch with staff whose career and professional trajectories can serve as examples. We actively offer advice to students who might be interested in such careers themselves.
The Scholars’ Lab is committed to advancing more equitable, ethical, and just pedagogical experiences. In this regard, we fully endorse the values expressed in the Collaborator’s Bill of Rights and, in particular, the Student Collaborator’s Bill of Rights. This means that we believe students should:
- be compensated appropriately for their work when possible;
- be engaged as true intellectual partners in the pedagogical experience;
- be credited publicly not only for their own work but also for any contributions to Scholars’ Lab projects during their time with us;
- be recognized as the best experts on their own learning needs and experiences;
- and be empowered to share their own wisdom, expertise, and experiences with the Scholars’ Lab and broader digital humanities communities.
We Are Working on It
We teach in public, meaning that we talk openly about our pedagogical process. When possible, we write about it as well. If something is not working, we will change it and adapt based on the needs of the students and our colleagues. Accordingly, we expect our students to talk and write about their work and the learning process for them, to engage in the experience, and help us shape a pedagogical experience that works for them.