2013-2014 Syllabus

Digital History Fellowship Practicums 2013-2014

Students awarded a Digital History Fellowship funded by the Provost’s PhD Awards in 2013 take four semesters of practicum courses at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media over a two-year period. These courses supplement the introduction to Digital History provided by the Clio Wired series of required courses. Students will gain on-the-ground experience in the daily work of a digital history center, and an opportunity to explore and reflect on how digital humanities centers are run, including how projects are managed and the nature of highly collaborative work. Those experiences will provide the basis for a critical examination of research and practice in the field of digital history.

The Digital History Fellows have dedicated space in the Center, an area with a large work desk and a filing cabinet for storage.


The two-semester practicum is divided into four seven-week blocks, preceded by a session introducing RRCHNM.  The first three blocks will be spent in the Center’s three divisions: Education and Public Projects in the Fall semester, and in the Spring semester, Research.  Each block includes overviews of the divisions by the directors, followed by hands-on work and experience, with careful oversight by the senior staff and ongoing feedback. You will be required to do 20 hours of work each week. The final block will be a weekly seminar led by the director devoted to exploring the possibilities and challenges of digital humanities theory and practice, drawing on experiences and insights gained from placement in the Center.

  • Orientation and Introductory Seminar: August 26

  • Education Division: September 3-October 18

  • Public Projects Division: October 21-December 7

  • Research Division: January 21-March 7

  • Seminar: March 17-May 2 (day of week and time TBC)


  • Blog post after the first meeting: What is RRCHNM? How is it organized? What does it do? How has it changed over time? What is the role of GRAs? Look at the 2012-13 Fellows Blog.

  • Attendance at the Monday morning all staff meeting (10 am)

  • Work in each division: Examples of possible assignments

    1. Education
      1. Weekly meeting with fellows; weekly meeting with division staff
        1. Assignment: Reflective blog posts
      2. Testing educational resources for teachers and students
        1. Assignment: Test Sea of Liberty website
        2. Assignment: Create sample teacher projects
        3. Assignment: Create sample student projects
      3. Creating content educational projects
        1. Assignment: Explore selected websites; write Website Reviews (Teachinghistory.org)
        2. Assignment: Explore selected teaching tools; write Tech for Teacher entries Teachinghistory.org)
      4. Research new technologies and trends
        1. Assignment: Find and test models for Match Me game (PRP)
      5. Academic organization websites
        1. Assignment: Explore academic organization websites; create content for SHCY
    2.  Public Project
      1. Weekly meeting with Fellows
        1. Assignment: Reflective blog posts
      2. Work on legacy collecting and archive projects (911DA, HDMB, PWD, Occupy); Managing ongoing maintenance and editorial activity; Publicity and outreach
        1. Assignment: Historical scholarship with the collections
      3. Research on new technologies and trends in Public History: How to keep projects vibrant after a central exhibit launches; The increasing integration of LOD in public projects; Text-mining for non-programmers; Augmented reality and place-based computing/new mobile developments
        1. Assignment: Report on developments related to Public Projects work
    3. Research Division:
      1. Weekly meeting with Fellows
        1. Assignment: Reflective blog posts
      2. Work on existing division projects: Zotero documentation, blog post; Some technical output, e.g. plugin, zotero translator, CSL; Publicity and outreach
        1. Assignment: Portfolio of support/dev work
      3. Research on new technologies and trends: How to integrate new tech into digital history; Explore funding opportunities for research projects; Sustainability and ongoing support of legacy research projects
        1. Assignment: Abstract of a grant proposal for a new research division project
  • Write for the RRCHNM blog
    • During each block, write two posts for the RRCHNM blog – one on the experience of being a fellow/GRA, and one on happenings, work, news related to the division, an interview/spotlight on a project or staff member
    • Once during the year, Tweet a day working in a division, and then write a blog post reflecting on the tweets as a form of scholarly communication
  • Collaborate on the design of the syllabi for the seminar block
  • As a group, organize one Brown Bag, and report on it in a blog post
  • Produce one Digital Campus Podcast production each semester, in collaboration with your second year Fellow mentor
  • At the end of the second semester, list in order the divisions in which you would like to work in the second year of the fellowship


The two-semester practicum is spent embedded in one division. You will be required to do 20 hours of work each week. Every attempt will be made to assign you to the division that you nominated, but the nature of the Center’s work means it is not always possible to do so.


  • Mentoring: Each fellow will also be paired with a first year fellow, as a mentor. That role involves
    • being a point of contact for the first year fellow,
    • commenting on that fellow’s blogs
    • collaboration with that Fellow on the production of a Digital Campus podcast once per semester (perhaps when director of your division is appearing?)
    • a summary blog post on the experience of mentoring
  • Attendance at the Monday morning all staff meeting (10 am)
  • Blogging
    • Post on the Fellows blog at least once every two weeks. Posts should be reflections on your work, what you are learning, and can encompass responses to news and issues being discussed within the broader digital history community
    • During each semester, write four posts for the RRCHNM blog – two on the experience of being a fellow/GRA, and two on happenings, work, news related to the division
    • Once during the year, Tweet a day working in a division, and then write a blog post reflecting on the tweets as a form of scholarly communication
  • As a group, organize one Brown Bag, and report on it in a blog post

GRA Expectations and Responsibilities

While working in the divisions, the same is expected of Digital History Fellows as of the other GRAs working in the Center.

Since the history PhD program began in 2001, graduate students have played an integral role in contributing to the work at CHNM. We expect that you will complete the work you are given, because that work is directly tied to grant deadlines and deliverables. You will also have opportunities to learn through CHNM-hosted events, such as Brown Bag talks and THATCamp, and less formal gatherings in the lounge or at the big table with staff and other graduate students. Getting the most out of your CHNM experience depends mostly on what you put into your semesters here.


  • Work and log 20 hours each week.
You are a GRA, and this is your job for 20 hours each week. Like any other part-time job you have, you will be required to report to CHNM on a regular schedule and log hours through the Basecamp project you are working on. You may also be asked periodically to write up performance reports that detail the work you are completing.
  • Work during regular business hours.
You are welcome to work at CHNM during regular business hours (8:30-6?) on your graduate coursework, but these hours may not count towards your total hours for that week.
  • Make up hours.
 If you have missed work time for any reason, you must make up these hours.
  • Tell your supervisor when you will be absent.
 It is your responsibility to check in with your supervisor if you will be absent for illness, conference travel, family emergencies, et al. If there are external factors that will effect your work schedule in a more permanent way, please schedule a meeting or phone call with your supervisors to discuss details.
  • Ask questions if you run into difficulties. 
See the list above for appropriate contact information.
  • Treat your co-workers, peers, and all visitors to CHNM respectfully.
 CHNM is a professional workplace, even if we dress casually. Please extend common courtesies to all you come in contact with in our work areas and on the floor (CHNM shares kitchen and restrooms with other Mason units on the 4th Floor). Donors, funders, and members of the history department, and Dean’s office come through our doors at all times, often unexpectedly.

Help keep CHNM clean.
 Again, donors, funders, members of the faculty and Dean’s office come through our spaces regularly and often unannounced. CHNM is not your second home, even though it is a comfortable place to work. This means clean up after yourself in personal and shared workspaces. For example, everyone on the 4th floor must take care of the kitchen, this is not cleaned for us. Please don’t leave food in the shared refrigerators for weeks. And, if you receive a phone call and you share a workspace, please go into the hallway, et al.

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