Digital Humanities and the Public

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I wrote earlier this week about what I see happening in the digital humanities, some history, and the biggest shift I have observed. Today I'm thinking about what is called the "public humanities."

The term public humanities refers to activities, initiatives, and scholarship within the humanities that engage with broader public audiences outside of academia. It encompasses a range of practices aimed at making humanistic knowledge and perspectives accessible, relevant, and meaningful to diverse communities beyond the traditional confines of the university.

I think the goal of public humanities is to bridge the gap between academia and the wider public. This can mean democratizing access to humanistic knowledge. It is an effort to foster a deeper appreciation for the value of the humanities in contemporary society. It reflects a commitment to the idea that the humanities have relevance and significance beyond the walls of the university and can contribute to the enrichment of public life and the promotion of democratic ideals.

How can this be accomplished? It often involves collaboration with community organizations, cultural institutions, and non-profit groups. A meaningful dialogue and partnerships with local communities can help address issues of shared concern and interest. This kind of civic engagement may encourage promoting critical thinking, cultural literacy, historical awareness and may also address social justice issues and advocate for positive social change.

DH programs can include public lectures, workshops, film screenings, exhibitions, and other events that bring together scholars, artists, activists, and members of the public to explore topics of cultural, historical, or philosophical significance.

Digital technologies can help the humanities reach wider audiences through online platforms, digital archives, social media, and interactive multimedia projects.

Public scholarship is something that public humanities scholars often produce. This is work that is accessible to non-specialist audiences, such as books, articles, podcasts, and blog posts. They may also contribute to public debates and discussions on contemporary issues, drawing on insights from the humanities to inform public discourse.

I found this recent article on listing ten forms of public humanities.

1.     public-facing academic work
2.     knowledge derived from practitioners
3.     humanistic knowledge created through collaboration with people that come from various publics
4.     data on the humanities in public
5.     activism informed by humanities research
6.     policymaking related to the humanities
7.     the value of the humanities in the public, and of the public humanities in academia
8.     graduate programs in public humanities
9.     pedagogy for public humanities;
10.  histories, theories, and critiques of the field of public humanities.


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