Brandon Walsh deposited Building Community And Generosity In The Context Of Graduate Education on Humanities Commons 2 years, 7 months ago
The academy trains students in complex intellectual work and tends to reward the performance of one’s own intelligence, both in coursework and in conferences. But in collaborative digital projects, this sort of focus on the individual is detrimental to the group dynamic, which necessarily needs to take shape around more than just the individual. In the Scholars’ Lab’s Praxis Program, a year-long introduction to digital humanities by way of project-based pedagogy, we consistently noted this tension in our fellowship cohorts. Each year, we consistently struggled to promote healthy collaboration centered on shared buy-in and generosity. While these are important needs and understandable desires, we hoped to use the year with us as an opportunity for them to work beyond this framing. We eventually realized that the problem was in expecting the students to act in a way different than they were used to acting in other parts of the academy. In short, we realized that the problem was one of training – our students were trained to perform in seminar-type environments in a particular mode, and it was a mistake to expect them to do anything else. This talk discusses workshops and exercises for our graduate student fellows that encourage students to reorient their collaborative practices away from a focus on the self and towards creating more generous and kind community spaces. We will discuss, in particular, a series of activities focused on community and collaboration for our students that discusses questions of de-centering yourself, building up rather than deconstructing, leading from trust and kindness, and more. The whole process is meant to help the students recognize that these conversations deserve a space in academic discourse, that academic practice can be different than they find elsewhere, and that this conversation can be a space in which to, in some small way, begin to shape a different kind of scholarly work.