Collaborative Intelligence: Building a Community of Practice in Digital Scholarship at a Liberal Arts College

Lyndsay Bratton, Digital Scholarship and Visual Resources Librarian
Catherine Benoît, Professor of Anthropology
Phillip Barnes, Associate Professor of Biology
Sufia Uddin, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Connecticut College

One of the strengths of small liberal arts colleges is the potential for rich faculty-student collaborative research at the undergraduate level. Digital scholarship affords LACs significant opportunities to leverage these collaborations, developing students’ research and technology skill sets through experiential learning, and reaching new and broader audiences through online publishing.

Our new joint program between the Library and the Office of the Dean of Faculty is rapidly building a strong community of practice in digital scholarship where previously there was none. Each year, the program brings three faculty members together with staff from across the library’s departments, including research librarians, archivists, instructional technologists, and programmers. The program supports projects that promote faculty-student collaboration across the lifecycle of a digital research project through course assignments, independent studies, and summer research assistantships.

The inaugural cohort’s projects span the humanities, social sciences, and life sciences. Through discovering the affordances of digital scholarship together, these faculty are finding surprising and inspiring points of overlap in their pedagogy and research interests. In this talk, the three faculty fellows and the digital scholarship librarian leading the program will present strategies for building an inclusive community of innovators–a relatively resource-limited community relying upon the notion of building collaborative intelligence among faculty, students, and staff through doing digital scholarship together. From crowdsourcing testimonies on the AIDS epidemic and the aftermath of destructive hurricanes in St. Martin to exploring the intersections of environmental science and the ethical and ritual practices of the peoples of the Sundarbans Mangroves, each fellow’s project intersects with the themes of the conference, including marginalized communities, indigenous studies, and the ethical concerns of publishing related multimedia online.