Receiving a fellowship in the first year of its inception comes with a few advantages. When we entered the program last year, discussions about the structure and purpose of the fellowship were ongoing and the syllabus was somewhat fluid. This allowed us to express our own desires for the fellowship course, while also being privy to conversations about what the fellowship should aspire to. Meeting with senior staff and project leaders, we were able to quickly survey the types of work being done at the center and the resulting possibilities for DH fellows. Many of the staff were as curious as we were about the fellowship and this led to meaningful conversations about the Center as a whole.
Of course there were some kinks. The fluid structure of the program granted some welcome freedom, but also some confusion. In the first semester, it was unclear what was expected of the fellows: Who do we report to? What exactly do we report? What exactly do we do here? These problems were mostly ironed out by the time we reached the practicum portion of the program during our second semester, and our time spent rotating through the divisions was more structured.
A month into the second year of the program, a few changes are already visible. The first year fellowship schedule has been flipped so that fellows now spend their first semester in practicum rotations, followed by a seminar course with the director. A larger group of fellows has provided greater opportunities for collaboration and for fellowship-specific projects, both of which are helping to strengthen the program.
The fellowship has also evolved with the arrival of the new CHNM director, Stephen Robertson, who is the fellowship coordinator as well. In the first year of the program, we had the privilege to work with Dan Cohen, an invaluable resource, both as an eminent scholar in the field and a close colleague of Roy Rosenzweig. Dan’s course grounded us in the history of Digital Humanities and the evolving mission of CHNM. But Stephen has done an excellent of filling Dan’s shoes, taking an active role in the development of the fellowship program. Under his direction, we are making the work of the fellows more visible within the center and within the community. By contributing a steady stream of content to this blog, the CHNM blog, the digital campus podcast, and other outlets, the second year of the DH fellowship is off to a productive start. These developments have been encouraging as we begin to consider plans for sustaining the program in years to come.