By Andy Hirsch
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University has been awarded a $700,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the University’s Digital Scholarship Initiative. The grant will help support faculty development, course development and summer research in the humanities and social sciences. It will also allow Bucknell to share its resources with peer institutions through workshops and conferences.
“The continued development of our digital scholarship has the power to change the cultural landscape of research for our faculty and students,” said Vice President for Library and Information Technology Param Bedi. “We see this initiative as a catalyst for re-thinking Bucknell in the 21st century.”
The demand for more support of digital scholarship, and the use of digital technologies in teaching and research, has dramatically increased over the past few years, explained Bedi, who is also the grant’s principal investigator. He expects the grant from Mellon will help the University meet that demand while diversifying its resources to include new digital technologies.
“Undergraduate research is a transformative experience for students; working with a faculty member on an original research project allows them to learn by engaging in the scholarship of the discipline,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences George Shields. “The growth of digital scholarship at Bucknell will allow faculty and students to tackle very interesting problems that were beyond their ability to take on in the absence of these digital tools.”
Bucknell has already established itself as a leader in using geographic information system (GIS) technology in the classroom. For example, Professor David Del Testa, history, used GIS to map and analyze the Nghe-Tinh Soviets of 1930-1931 in Vietnam, illustrating correlations between wealth and religion of those who rebelled against the French. In another example, Professor Amanda Wooden, environmental studies, and her students are using GIS to link the recent revolution and violent ethnic conflicts in Kyrgyzstan to citizens’ attitudes towards environmental issues and proximity to potential hazards. They are learning to draw parallels to the local issue of environmental activism across the Marcellus Shale region in the United States.
In addition to the Mellon Foundation grant, Bucknell continues to make a significant investment in the Digital Scholarship Initiative. The Office of Library and Information Technology recently added three new staff: two digital scholarship coordinators and a GIS specialist. The University is also creating a Digital Scholarship Center in the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library. It will serve as a dedicated space aimed at fostering collaboration between students, faculty and staff.