I am the founding director of Humanities Plus at George Fox University, which focuses on integrating applied computing skills into undergraduate research in the humanities.
H+ offers students preparing to work in the fast-paced digital economy an opportunity to wrestle slowly and creatively with the very difficult challenge of combining what computers do best—compute over datasets, recognize patterns, complete tasks reduntantly—with the workflows and methods that humans have long used to create new knowledge with both rigor and creativity.
Why major in the humanities? Because they are fun, for one thing. They are also among the most accessible majors to students typically underrepresented in higher education, students who are the first in their families to attend college or who come from low-income backgrounds. I was both. They also require the slow habituation of deep, powerful habits of the mind and the development of invaluable skills in reading, writing, and analysis. Those skills and habits will prove useful to graduates long after the hottest technologies of tomorrow are long forgotten.
An image created by MidJourney Bot using the prompt “medieval style computer program.”
As long as we are in the business of teaching students how to learn, why not also teach them to learn to think programmatically, to reason critically using data analytics and close reading together? The humanities offer a great opportunity to learn to apply technologies to problems because our problems are deeply averse to the effort. What would be a huge problem in the real world is a powerful educational opportunity in college, where students get to spend years pursuing their intellectual interests iteratively as they learn and grow. H+ works to bring applied computing into that ancient process of learning, but also provides formal mentorship both for the interdisciplinary, multi-year work and for the equally difficult challenge of answering the question: “So, what did you learn to do?”
If you are a prospective student, a parent, another scholar, or anyone else with a question about H+, please feel free to contact me via email.