Tenth Annual Conference of the European Association of International Education

Redefining humanities in the digital age

Koenraad de Smedt, University of Bergen

The thematic network project Advanced Computing in the Humanities (ACO*HUM) was started on September 1, 1996, with the aim to define and develop a European dimension in the humanities. The special issue of common interest to its 100 partners is how humanities education is affected by information technologies. Traditionally, humanities disciplines like linguistics, literature, history, history of art and philosophy were strongly book-oriented. Now they are undergoing big changes by the integration of computer methods. ACO*HUM explores the consequences of digitization for humanities education in a European dimension.

During the first and second years, working groups were established. These groups had their own contact meetings on the following subthemes:

During the second year, an international conference was prepared and was held in September 1998. This was the main event to bring the project partners and other interested parties together. The extended abstracts of this conference are available from the website (http://www.uib.no/acohum).

During the third year, a book will be published with surveys, analyses and recommendations by each of the working groups. It is intended as a strategic document for further work by educators, researchers and policy makers in the humanities.

The working groups continue to discuss curricula and courses, a.o. in preparation of new international masters degrees and the promotion of mobility. They also discuss the international managing of computer resources. Further, ODL tests and other experiences are discussed.

The network maintains active links to learned societies (EACL, ALLC, CHArt, AHC) and international networks (ELSNET, TNP on Speech Communication Sciences, COIMBRA group, CAMEEL). These organizations use the network project for information and discussion.

The outcome of ACO*HUM so far is primarily the increasing common understanding of the changing humanities field. Educators at partner institutions are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges presented by the rapidly changing humanities field in the digital age. They are aware of the need for international cooperation to face these challenges, and they are shaping the potential of such cooperation in terms of common findings and recommendations. The TNP itself does not have sufficient funding or time span to realize any of its own recommendations on a Europe-wide scale. It is merely laying the ground for important follow-up actions a.o. in curriculum development, courseware development, awareness actions, teacher training actions, and international computing resource management.