FSU Receives $146,785 Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to Launch a Series of Programs on Investigating Race Through the Digital Humanities

FSU Receives $146,785 Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to Launch a Series of Programs on Investigating Race Through the Digital Humanities

Jan 11, 2022

Framingham State University has received its second major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in less than six months that will help expand upon the University's Digital Humanities (DH) efforts. 

The latest grant provides $146,785 to fund a series of workshops and institutes focused on using digital humanities tools to explore issues of race in America, both historically and in the current moment.

Potential topics of faculty interest for exploration include tracing the transatlantic slave trade, uncovering Native American presence in colonial New England, identifying local abolitionist movements, and showcasing contemporary African American and Latinx literature. The project aligns with the NEH's "A More Perfect Union" initiative designed to demonstrate and enhance the critical role the humanities play in our nation, while also supporting projects that will help Americans commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

As the Project Director, Dr. Bartholomew Brinkman notes, "This grant will empower students, faculty, and the wider university community to investigate race through a variety of digital methods, including network analysis, historical mapping, and the mining of historical documents. Such efforts dovetail with FSU's ongoing commitment to anti-racism and further promotes the centrality of DH itself."

Last October, NEH awarded Framingham State University a $192,000 grant to launch a digital humanities center in Whittemore Library to serve students, faculty and the greater community.

The rapidly growing field of Digital Humanities (DH) combines traditional humanities subjects, such as English, history and philosophy, with digital computing tools that expand upon our ability to ask and to answer age-old humanities questions about identity, history and more, according to Brinkman. It involves investigation, analysis, synthesis and presentation of information in electronic form.

The digital humanities can also open new doors for employment and career opportunities for humanities students by teaching them how to work with digital tools and methods that aren't always emphasized in the traditional classroom.

The first initiative funded by the NEH Grant will be an FSU Faculty Institute on DH and Race during the 2022–2023 academic year. Fifteen FSU faculty, librarians, and other educators from across the humanities will participate in the institute consisting of six 3-hour workshops.

The timing of this institute is important, as it will prepare faculty to teach introductory and advanced digital humanities courses in the University's newly developed interdisciplinary DH minor with particular attention to issues of race.

Other initiatives funded by the grant include:

  • In July 2023, 15 local high school educators will be invited to participate in a two-week program focused on how DH can be used effectively in the high school classroom, particularly to investigate issues of race in a US context.
  • During the 2023–2024 academic year, 15 representatives from local cultural organizations, centered in the City of Framingham's cultural district, will participate in four workshops (two in the fall, two in the spring) on incorporating DH practices into cultural preservation and dissemination.
  • From fall 2022 through fall 2024, FSU will host a series of monthly public lectures and workshops, led by emerging DH practitioners from throughout the region and prioritizing discussions of race and the digital humanities.

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.