The 11th annual conference of AERI (Archival Education and Research Institute) was held at the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS) in Liverpool, UK, on 8-12 July.
AERI aims to strengthen education and research in archive-related studies and supporting academic networking and mentoring in these fields. A large audience, which included many doctoral students, attended a range of sessions and workshops focused on the development both of curricula and research in archival studies and related fields.
PARTHENOS was represented at AERI in a workshop on the future of computational curricula for archives (co-organised by the foresight study team), and a presentation of work with MA students that arose from the project’s education and training developments.
Workshop on ‘Developing a Computational Curriculum Framework for Archival Education’
Mark Hedges (King’s College London – KCL) from the PARTHENOS Foresight Study team co-organised a workshop on developing curricula in archival studies that incorporate computation and computational methods. His collaborators in organising the event were Jenny Bunn from University College London and Richard Marciano from the University of Maryland iSchool, with which KCL has been developing an international partnership over the course of PARTHENOS (read more in the following interview about PARTHENOS’ international network).
Figure: A discussion at the workshop on computational curriculum frameworks
The understanding that archival science requires reinvention in the light of digital technologies is by no means a new one. Various initiatives and developments have been undertaken to address this, including Master’s programmes in digital curation, technical traineeships organised by The National Archives, and research within cultural heritage institutions on the concept of ‘collections as data’. In all of these a common thread is the application of computational methods and tools with archival (and other) collections.
More broadly, the challenges for practitioners and researchers who work with archival collections, and the enhanced possibilities for scholarship through the application of computational methods and tools within the archival problem space, have led to the identification of Computational Archival Science as a new, transdisciplinary field of study, concerned with the application of computational methods and resources to large-scale processing of records and research with archival material. This field was in fact conceptualised at a symposium co-organised by the PARTHENOS foresight team at the University of Maryland in 2016, and the need for research and new educational paradigms was identified in the team’s foresight report.
This workshop brought together people from three continents, all of whom are either involved in or with an interest in these developments, and provided a forum in which these participants could share and reflect on what has been achieved so far. In particular, the workshop discussed how the work of developing curricula – whether undergraduate, postgraduate, or continuing professional development – centred on computational treatments of archival collections might best be taken forward. PARTHENOS also extended the network working in this area in new places, and laid the groundwork for new collaborations and sustainability of our foresight activities.
PARTHENOS Training Modules
The PARTHENOS Training Suite provides access to open source materials designed to ‘train the trainer’. This means the materials included in each tutorial are scaffolded so that students, teachers and practitioners can read, listen to and view content appropriate to their level of expertise and enhance their contributions to research and projects.
Modules in the suite cover a range of topics such as research infrastructures, research data management, open data and FAIR principles and research methods. These topics were selected to engage with a wide audience within DH, and ideally widen the scope of researchers and practitioners willing to participate in DH.
During the 2018/2019 academic year the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London used several sections in the Training Suite as core instructional media for its research data management module. During the fall term, students learned about research infrastructures, FAIR and open data and DH research workflows. They used their emerging expertise to develop a research data management strategy for a digitization initiative at the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI). Overall, students developed a theoretical understanding of research infrastructures, and the roles data management can play in developing collaborative strategies for pooling practical expertise, theoretical knowledge and, most importantly, data.
Student work contributed to a variety of dissemination activities, which culminated in presentations at AERI – provided by Kristen Schuster (KCL) – and DH2019 – by Kristen and Vicky Garnett (Trinity College Dublin) . At AERI, they discussed the value of partnerships between academic and cultural heritage institutions in a presentation titled Exploring and collaborating: Rediscovering the RUSI Museum through student engagement. The presentation addressed strategies for developing functional partnerships with cultural heritage institutions, and the roles student work can play in contributing to long-term digitization and digital curation initiatives. At DH2019 in a presentation titled Developing and Integrating Training Materials on Research Infrastructures into Higher Education course design: The PARTHENOS Experience Kristen and Vicky discussed strategies for integrating PARTHENOS training materials into a postgraduate taught module. In both presentations, student experiences were explored and the ways practical experiences enhance students’ abilities to engage with complex concepts like research infrastructures and institutional repositories were reflected upon. Our goal was to emphasize the value of pooling resources to promote diverse partnerships in higher education and beyond.
…more to come!
Since PARTHENOS will use the period until the end of October 2019 to keep disseminating its offering, you can expect to find us at more conferences and other events over the coming months (most notably at DH Benelux). Finally, we kindly invite you to our very own Impact Event, taking place on 4 October.