Graduate Specialization in Digital History & Cultural Heritage Informatics
Information and communication technology has revolutionized our world and our work, as small, fast, cheap, and interconnected digital devices make previously unimagined innovations possible. What was once intractable and unthinkable is now mundane. Computers and information technology play an indispensable role in everyday life for people in business, corporations, the academy, government, and public service.
This transformation of life and letters has already produced exciting developments in the past decade: asynchronous and real-time web communications on a global scale; the replacement of the card catalog with globally-accessible online catalogs; the preservation and replication of priceless endangered manuscripts, visual art, film, and sound through dynamic digital scanning, graphics, and storage technologies; immersive and engaging virtual environments; the advent of rich interactive media as essential to the undergraduate classroom and learning experience.
The creative partnership between computer science and the academic disciplines that explore human culture and history – the core of what we now call “Digital History & Cultural Heritage Informatics” − is a phenomenally important facet of this digital revolution. The foundations of Digital History & Cultural Heritage Informatics emerged in the 1960s as an interdisciplinary effort by academics in the field of cultural heritage to harness the power of the computer for their studies. These early pioneers used computers for textual analysis, quantitative analysis, and systemic modeling to provide new insights into human culture and the past. They also began to explore the possibilities of the computer for teaching and public outreach. The advent of the Internet and the digital revolution of the last decade, however, allowed digital history & cultural heritage informatics to come into its own. In a world where information can be reduced into bits and bytes and communicated instantaneously, digital history & cultural heritage informatics has rapidly emerged as a necessary and fundamentally interdisciplinary method of archiving, interpreting, and communicating human activity and the human record. Digital History & Cultural Heritage Informatics can, for the first time in world history, securely preserve and provide broad democratic access to the documents, images, languages, sound, and film that constitute the human record and facilitate its understanding.
It is within this context that the Graduate Specialization in Digital History & Cultural Heritage Informatics in the Department of History strives to equip doctoral students in the myriad disciplines that constitute the field of cultural heritage with both the practical and analytical skills necessary to creatively apply information and communication technologies to historical and cultural heritage materials, influence the current state of digital history & cultural heritage informatics, and become though leaders for the future of digital history & cultural heritage informatics.