The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a one-time, $40,000 grant to Hamilton College, in collaboration with the College of Wooster, to support the second Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS.org) conference, which will be held at Hamilton on July 24-29. ILiADs, originally conceived by the Digital Humanities institute (DHi) at Hamilton College and the College of Wooster, grew to a collaboration of more than 23 liberal arts colleges at the first conference in July 2015.

This year’s program will gather digital scholars, librarians, technologists and students in teams that will focus on digital scholarship projects. ILiADS’ mission is to foster both innovation and sustainability in digital liberal arts projects.

Feedback from last summer’s ILiADS attendees was uniformly positive and enthusiastic.  Participants felt the Institute served a unique need for Digital Humanities practitioners at liberal arts colleges, bringing together valuable communities of practice in an environment that propelled digital projects forward and inspired new endeavors. What participants valued most highly from the 2015 conference was the week-long period of focused work during which teams had undisturbed time to focus on their digital projects and draw upon the additional expertise of the ILiADS organizers and staff.

The 2016 conference will incorporate two levels of professional support available to ILiADS participants:  team coaches and ILiADS experts.  The coaches are faculty, librarians and technologists from liberal arts colleges, each bringing excellent project management and digital project skills to guide their teams. These coaches also serve as liaisons between the teams and the ILiADS experts, a cohort of accomplished professionals with expertise in particular aspects of digital scholarship, ranging from interface design to metadata, GIS, or text encoding. 

Experts have been selected based upon the particular needs of this year’s project teams and come from all sectors of higher education, including Yale University, University of Victoria, the University of South Carolina system, Michigan State University, and MITH (U. of Maryland), as well as liberal arts colleges.

While  its focus remains on liberal arts colleges, ILiADS is committed to its role as a bridge between that sector and the larger Digital Humanities community and in shaping the broader conversations around digital scholarship and pedagogy.  Its coaches, experts and participants are all eligible to participate in the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) training network. They are firmly established in national and international Digital Humanities communities, and ILiADS is exchanging ideas with research universities both in its experts and teams (for example, this year teams from Dartmouth, Pittsburgh, Penn State and Notre Dame will attend ILiADS). 

Since last summer’s conference, ILiADS has been highlighted at a number of important DH events:  DHSI, the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference, MLA’s annual conference and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI).

In addition, the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities (UNRH ) formed at ILiADS 2015 will hold its second UNRH conference at Washington & Lee College this fall.

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