Arts and Sciences introduces new program in Digital Humanities
As technology continues to change society and scholarship, more and more undergraduates from a wide range of majors are opting to study advanced digital research techniques—from digital mapping and text analysis to 3D modeling—that are transforming how we explore and understand literature, art and culture.
Thanks to a generous Campaign gift from School of Arts and Sciences Overseer Michael Price, W’79, and his wife Vikki to create the Price Lab for Digital Humanities, Penn is a leader in applying computational tools and approaches to traditional humanistic disciplines. Now, the College is taking this new priority to the next level by offering a minor in Digital Humanities.
“As a biologist who majored in music performance in college, I am thrilled to see a science/humanities crossover like the DH minor growing in association with the Price lab at Penn,” says Dr. Paul Sniegowski, Stephen A. Levin Family Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Biology. “The analytical and quantitative approaches that students learn in the DH minor provide new perspectives and deepened insights into the context and meaning of the arts and humanities in our time.”
As the School’s primary DH innovation hub and research incubator, the Price Lab will play a significant role in the evolution of this minor. The Lab already serves as a central point of exchange with its key partners, the Penn Libraries and Penn Museum, existing Arts and Sciences resources like the Linguistic Data Consortium and PennSound, and centers across the University including the Cartographic Modeling Lab at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Penn Institute for Computational Science at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as institutes and universities beyond Penn.
One popular advanced course in the program is Visualizing the Past, team-taught by Professor of Anthropology Clark Erickson and Norman Badler, Rachleff Family Professor of Computer and Information Science. Last fall, students in this class created detailed digital versions of objects from the Penn Museum’s collection, ranging from bows and arrows to beer-drinking bowls. Then, they recorded and animated themselves using the objects at Engineering’s ViDi Center for Digital Visualization. These animations are being used to create an immersive virtual world that shows people doing everyday tasks like hunting, cooking and tending fields, bringing life to our picture of the past.
The new minor in Digital Humanities is but one example of the vision that Arts and Sciences is advancing through The Power of Penn Campaign. Other goals of the Campaign include increasing the prestigious opportunities that attract top faculty and continuing to build programs that reinforce the School’s reputation as a leader in the latest frontiers of collaborative research.