Humanities and The Arts Earns Two NEH Grants to Transform Humanities Research and Teaching – Renata Kobetts Miller

by Yasin Usta

Professor of English and Deputy Dean of Humanities and the Arts Renata Kobetts Miller has received two National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) grants in sequence to transform humanities research and teaching at City College with 21st-century tools. These projects provide faculty members and students with Digital Humanities tools and technologies to enrich humanistic research and study. Such digital tools enable online curation, preservation, and sharing of archival materials; mapping to understand history through geographical space; the use of “big data” and corpus analysis in humanities fields; text mining; and the collaborative annotation of texts.

Renata Miller

The first project, “Retention and Professional Development of Adjuncts in a Covid-19 Instructional Environment at the City College of New York,” provided training and support for a cohort of 24 adjuncts to use Digital Humanities in their teaching. The project also created an instructional technologist position to improve the teaching of humanities courses that were online in the fall semester due to the pandemic. The technologist, Dr. Dimitrios Papadopoulos, worked with adjuncts in a series of workshops during the summer, and provided the adjuncts with training and support in Digital Humanities tools and platforms. Papadopoulos also led seminars and consulted with faculty during the Fall semester.

Collaborating with Thomas Peele, who is director of City College’s Center for Teaching Learning, Miller has taken this project into a further step to develop and pilot a curriculum for a minor in Digital Humanities at CCNY.  The Digital Humanities minor will enrich students’ understanding of humanities within a broader context and prepare them for broader career options.

“These two projects are related and address the same goals,” said Miller.  “To provide support for faculty and students at City College to work with digital humanities tools and technologies.  Digital humanities is a relatively new field, but it is becoming more and more prominent in the study of Humanities.”  

Miller noted that many faculty members were already interested in Digital Humanities tools and projects. These grants provide infrastructure in the form of experienced personnel to support faculty in developing their courses and using technologies in their teaching and research.  

“I think Digital Humanities tools will gradually become an integral part of the toolbox to analyze humanities materials,” said Miller.  “If we don’t provide the support for the faculty and students in using these analytic tools, we will be behind the curve.” 

Digital Humanities offers a set of methodologies that have made significant contributions to the various disciplines of humanities and a Digital Humanities minor will incorporate an array of courses in which students will experience broader and deeper methods of critical analysis. Miller also noted that it will provide students with a larger skillset of technological abilities that they can utilize in the workplace and graduate school. 

“Students who are using Digital Humanities become makers in addition to studiers,” said Miller. “And we will leverage our College’s strength in science, technology, and engineering to develop courses that provide humanities students with greater technological proficiency and an awareness of the intellectual possibilities at the intersection of technology and humanistic inquiry.”

Miller believes that these technologies will keep being useful after going back to in-person classes. “They are great platforms for encouraging collaboration and in-depth hands-on engagement with humanities,” added Miller. “I’m hoping that the experience of these adjuncts (in the CARES cohort) will inspire other faculty members.”

The project will also establish a partnership with the CUNY Graduate Center to develop, implement, and assess the new classes. CCNY faculty members and students will be supported by CUNY Graduate Center’s Digital Fellows Program, led by Professor Matthew Gold. City College will be the first CUNY college to partner with the Graduate Center and have Digital Fellows working on-site with faculty and students. 


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