Digital History Research and Conferencing Center
The Department of History would like to provide the Graduate Students and advanced Undergraduate Students within the newly created Digital History Initiative with the tools necessary to research, develop, and complete Digital History projects. This Digital History Research and Conferencing Center would alleviate the current situation in which students are forced to use the outdated technology of the Department of History's current equipment, or bring their own equipment to bear. This proposal would be to place high-end workstations and a video conferencing center for online video interviews into the aging History Computer Lab. With these workstations running graphic and data intensive software, and the video conferencing center, the students in the History Department would gain a substantial amount of resources with which to fulfill interview and research projects.
The software, hardware, and renovations would modernize and fully utilize the outdated, cramped History Computer Lab in Smith Hall 210A.
The Digital History Initiative is newly formed within the Department of History that focuses on the use of digital technologies to assist with the research and development of data and graphic-intensive projects. Since the Digital History Initiative's inception, there has been little adequate technological equipment available for the students participating in the Initiative to use. Since a great many of these projects involve advanced mapping and graphical designs, powerful computers are necessary in order to properly produce the desired projects. Student projects for the Digital History Initiative rely heavily on two aspects: Cartography (GIS, mapping, geotagging, etc), and Image Management (art and photography). One of the primary goals of the Initiative is to offer a research lab to students that can handle any sort of Image Management and Mapping techniques the students want to utilize to complete their projects. Having a heterogeneous environment within the department, as well as mobile platforms, allows students to fully realize the types of projects that the Digital History Initiative emphasizes. Additionally, research projects sometimes necessitate interviews or conferences involving multiple people whose locations require a video conferencing setup. Digital interviews are also a necessary step in the modern career process. Doing an interview with out-dated, or cheap hardware many times results in grainy images, muffled audio, and various poor connection issues. All these together can severely hamper the interview process and may devalue the end results.
Benefits to Students and the University
Students would benefit by gaining access to high-end hardware and software that would normally not be available to students without substantial financial investment. Students currently are forced to either use their own equipment (usually laptops) to complete these projects with the help of open-source software. In addition, the research projects that require digital interviews will gain an enormous advantage with a professional-grade conferencing setup. With this new Lab, the students would have access to powerful machines and top of the line software. Additionally, this would fully utilize the Computer Lab and bring the format and equipment of that room up to modern levels.
It is my pleasure to endorse the STF proposal for a Digital History Research and Conferencing Center to be established in Smith Hall 210A. This multiple-purpose technology information center will meet two pressing student needs within the Department of History.
First, by providing access to a well-equipped and well-configured computing space, it will enable undergraduate and graduate students to participate more fully in the digital history initiatives currently underway in the department. Through such initiatives, students gain skills and knowledge necessary for developing as researchers and publically engaged intellectuals, and for succeeding in today’s highly competitive job market. Over the past ten years or so, the UW Department of History has become an internationally renown leader in the field of digital history through, among others, projects like Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project (http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/), Blackpast.org (http://www.blackpast.org), and South Lake Union Stories (http://faculty.washington.edu/momara/omeka/). These faculty-led projects have frequently involved undergraduate and graduate students but have been unable to provide them with a devoted space and devoted equipment (outside of faculty offices) to conduct this work. The Digital History Research and Conferencing Center will provide the facilities long needed to support faculty/student collaborations on digital history projects. More importantly, it will provide facilities for students to develop their own digital history projects. Last summer, the department used $20,000 in gift monies to award six graduate students with Summer Digital History Fellowships. Most awardees used their fellowships to develop digital components of their dissertation projects. Some awardees struggled to find spaces and equipment on campus to do their work while others relied on the generosity of faculty who shared their offices and equipment. This coming summer we plan to once again offer this fellowship opportunity. It would be wonderful to offer the new awardees – as well as any other history students – a dedicated and well-equipped space in which to develop their own digital history projects.
Second, the Digital History Research and Conferencing Center will provide undergraduate and graduate students with a well-designed and professional space for conducting videoconferences and video-interviews. Through the installation of a wide angel webcam, a wall-mounted TV, a pull-down backdrop screen (to improve appearances), and carpeting (to improve acoustics), Smith Hall 210A will be transformed into an ideal venue for students to conduct and record interviews for oral history research projects, to be interviewed for jobs, and to collaborate with colleagues based at other institutions and organizations. Such facilities will improve the quality of student research and facilitate student interaction with collaborators and potential employers around the globe. The department’s senior computer specialist will manage the scheduling of the center so that its multiple purposes peacefully coincide rather than conflict.
Because the Digital History Research and Conferencing Center will improve student learning and opportunities in these two vital ways, I, as Chair of the Department of History, heartily support this proposal.
Lynn Thomas, Chair, Department of History.
As Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History, I am very pleased to endorse this application for machines and software to enable our undergraduate and graduate students to undertake Digital History projects. We already have several major Digital History initiatives underway among our faculty and students, and believe that these projects – in addition to the considerable contribution they make to the intellectual life of the department – will enhance opportunities for current and future employment among our students. Furthermore, these resources will allow our students to conduct innovative projects about historical actors who might otherwise be inaccessible, ensuring that we uphold our Department’s commitment to diversity in the subjects that we study. Finally, this investment in the technological resources of the Department will enable our students to connect more fully with scholars in other parts of the world who may be undertaking similar projects, encouraging more collaborative research and intellectual engagement.
Jordanna Bailkin, Department of History.
I am pleased to offer my endorsement of the application for the Digital History Research and Conferencing Center. This proposal seeks to move forward teaching and research in history by putting advanced technology at the disposal of students and faculty in the Department of History. The Department of History at the University of Washington has been a leader in the application of new technology to the production and distribution of historical scholarship. History faculty have developed leading examples of digital scholarship; BlackPast.org (Quintard Taylor), Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights Projects (James Gregory), BattleOfAdwa.org (Raymond Jonas) are just three examples of the substantial digital presence established by History faculty. History faculty have also led the way in the application of technology to teaching. Margaret O’Mara’s HSTAA 208 “Cities” course showed that technology could significantly enhance the undergraduate experience. Students in HSTAA208 collaborated to create “South Lake Union Stories” – a web site that chronicled the transformation of South Lake Union over the 19th and 20th centuries. Professor O’Mara’s work made her the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology. The STF proposal you have before you would build on this record. It would enrich the History curriculum, notably by refreshing the software and hardware available to History students. The conferencing part of the proposal would facilitate interviews and oral history projects. Taken together, these initiatives will ensure the continued application of advanced technology to
teaching and research in history.
Raymond Jonas, Department of History
In working closely with our undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of History, I have seen a massive shift in the ways technology is used in historical research and publication. With thousands of sources digitized every day, our students now relay on being able to access all sources for their research, as well as new ways of disseminating the work they do. From interviews for personal histories and ethnographies, to virtual conferencing via video, our students need a space where they can access and collaborate on a global scale. Additionally, they need ways of digitizing primary-scource historical data onto platforms that can then be used to add to our already impressive online presence in digital histories. Funding this revamped canter will give our students the tool and resources they need to stay at the cutting edge of historical research and knowledge production.
Matthew Erickson, Director of Academic Services, Department of History
The installation of hardware and software in the Lab could be made almost immediately upon receipt of funding. Likewise the hardware can be made available to students for loan as soon as installation is complete. Barring complications, installation of all hardware and software in the room would take no more than 2 weeks.
Resources Provided by Department
The Department of History is providing a secured areas for storage of these devices, as well as Access Restrictions (mentioned). The Department of History also has a full time local IT Support positions to provide in-house service, support, and training for all devices within the Department. The room will be managed by the History Main Office to reserve the room for video interviews, conferencing, check out mobile equipment, and use of workstation machines.
Access Restrictions (if any)
The hardware for the Digital History Initiative will be located in the History Computer Lab in Smith Hall 210A. This room is secured by a keypad. The code for the keypad is only given out to Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students, and advanced Undergraduate Students (with approval) of the History Department. The laptop computers will be stored in the History IT Office in Smith 315C and are available for checkout to Faculty, Staff, and Students within the History Department. Additionally, these computers will be connected to the History Department Active Directory Domain and thus cannot be used by anyone unless they have a History Network Account. These accounts are only given to Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students, and advanced Undergraduate Students (with approval) of the History Department.
One of the strengths of the History Department is the study of the recent past, especially the decades since World War II. For example, at present, there is a critical core of students pursuing dissertations that address the 1970's. Not surprisingly, oral history represents an essential aspect of our work. However, many of us are struggling to complete interviews because there are no adequate facilities available for regular use. Instead, students have to use cell phones and low quality recording devices. The creation of a conferencing center would address this problem, allowing students to complete a larger number of high-quality oral histories. The result would ultimately be better, more nuanced dissertations.
Digital tools and methodologies are changing the way that historians interpret the past. The acquisition of digitally-based skills is especially important for graduate students, who are just beginning to establish themselves within the discipline. The purchase of Mac and PC workstations as well as the addition of cutting edge software like Tableau and Adobe Creative Cloud would allow the Department's graduate students to add new and innovative dimensions to their research projects. In particular, those seeking to incorporate mapping and visualization components into their dissertations would now have access to the latest hardware and software, both of which are necessary to adequately complete this challenging, but increasingly essential work.
Eleanor Mahoney, PhD Candidate, Department of History
The History graduate student computer room is in desperate need of an update. Recently the space has fallen into disuse because of what little it can offer your average student. In an age where most students have a laptop of their own, there is very little incentive to make use of the three standard PCs set up in a drab backroom of Smith. Luckily, however, the space could be revitalized with relative ease. Our proposal would add several new components that would diversify the services of the room as a whole.
First, we would like to further turn the room into a communal space. One aspect of this is we would like to add more shelving to the walls of the room, in order to create a storage space for graduate students who may not have access to an office through a TA appointment (this would also make up for the loss of the lockers from Smith Hall earlier this school year). We also hope to increase the value of the computers by increasing our scanning capabilities to include a machine that can do larger, non-traditional documents other than just books. These capabilities would work in tandem with our proposed upgrades for the computers in the room, on which we hope to make available to students Adobe and Tableau—two pieces of imaging software that have wide applications as we as a department attempt to move toward embracing the digital humanities. One last addition would be to set up a webcam station with an ensured connection, so that we can offer students a space for if they may need to conduct interviews or give a presentation through Skype. Finally, the room itself is simply not an inviting space at the moment… a new coat of paint might do wonders!
While many of us will still rely on our laptops for the majority of our personal work, there are simply some projects that we cannot tackle on our own. Having a dedicated space where we know we will have additional digital resources available to us when we need them would greatly benefit our students. We hope our modest proposals for improvement can once again make the computer lab a valuable asset to the History Department’s graduate student community. Thanks for your consideration!
Matthew Cotton, Graduate Student, Department of History GLC
As a PhD student and teaching assistant, it would be very useful to me to have an up-to-date computer lab for graduate students' use. The field of history is moving towards incorporating more technology into dissertation research by using software programs such as Tableau, which can help with managing large sets of data. The history department at UW has made momentous efforts to educate and encourage the use of such software programs through the Digital History committee. If UW wants to stay on the progressive edge of this academic field, it is absolutely necessary that history students have a dedicated computer lab with access to this software. I know that myself and many other graduate students are excited to incorporate this technology into our own research, and are very eager to have an updated computer lab.
Katie Blank, PhD Candidate, Department of History GLC
An updated computer lab would be invaluable for the students in our department. As it is in its current state, it just isn't very useful and, as a result, it sits empty most of the time. The fact is, most of us have laptops, so simply having several additional desktops at our disposal is not helpful.
Far more useful would be a small number of more powerful computers loaded with software that is either too expensive for a single student to pay for, or slows down the average laptop too much to be useful. One such program with which I became acquainted last summer as a Digital History fellow was a data visualization program called Tableau. It's a very powerful program, but the basics can be mastered in an afternoon. I was particularly impressed with this program's potential for generating new questions with the data sets we are already using. The problem with the program, for me, was that it slowed my laptop significantly and caused it to crash frequently. Additionally, while I find it to be a very useful program, it is something that I may want to use occasionally, but not every day the way I use my word processor. Tableau is just one of many programs that could potentially be very useful for students in our department, but many people don't even bother to try these programs, either because they are cost prohibitive or our personal computers are not powerful enough to run the software. Particularly on a graduate student budget, many students find it difficult to justify spending money on a software unless they know for certain they will use it frequently. An ideal situation would be a lab to which history students had unlimited access that are loaded with programs like Tableau. (As it is, the sticker price for Tableau is quite high, but they do have education pricing available that would be worth looking into.)
Being knowledgeable about such software would also, I believe, make history graduate students more competitive for some of the digital humanities funding opportunities, such as those offered through the Simpson Center. I know that I was very hesitant to pursue anything in digital humanities, or really anything with the word "digital," as I'm not all that computer savvy, but there are programs out there that have really simplified the digital humanities game. I think having these tools available, along with the occasional workshop to introduce students to the different software, could really help keep us competitive as more and more things go digital.
Roneva Keel, Graduate Student, Department of History GLC
The computer room in the History Department has long been outdated and underused. With recent initiatives in the department, most specifically advancing funds and opportunities for students and faculty alike to pursue research in Digital History and/or the Digital Humanities, a revitalized and updated computer lab is vital for ensuring the continuation and growth of Digital Humanities in faculty and student research alike.
Many of the graduate students, including myself, plan on incorporating some methodological aspects from Digital History such as urban space mapping. Given that many of us will do research abroad, it is vitally important for graduate students (and faculty alike) to have access to hands on training in the department before traveling abroad. This proposal request for several additional up-to-date desktops and laptops equipped with Tableau would greatly enhance the ability of graduate students to become familiar with some of the key digital technologies before moving into research abroad. Additionally, not only would the acquisition of new computers and research software greatly enhance the scale and scope of graduate research, it would equally enhance our competiveness on the job-market.
Bradley Horst, Graduate Student, Department of History GLC
My name is Sara Leonetti, and I am a senior in the History Department’s undergraduate honors program. I am also the president of Phi Alpha Theta at the University of Washington. As a student completing a research project for the history honors program, I believe a conferencing center in Smith Hall would be an instrumental research tool for both graduate and undergraduate students. It would encourage high-quality research by allowing students to collaborate with other historians around the globe and by enabling students to conduct excellent interviews regardless of the interviewees’ locations. I believe these benefits will embolden students to expand the breadth of their research, improving the quality of their finished projects.
Sara Leonetti, Senior, Department of History Honors Program
27" iMac with high-end graphics card and 3 year warranty
Mac workstation for graphic use with Digital History Projects
High-end Graphics Workstation with Dual HD Monitors
for use with Mapping and creative suite projects.
Workstation class laptop with high-end graphics
Mobile workstation for Digital History projects. Available for checkout with approval.
Mac with high-end specifications for Digital History Projects
Mobile Mac workstation with highest-end specifications
Tableau is a software that would be a tremendous help to Digital History students with their mapping projects.
Subscription based license for Adobe Creative Cloud (29.99 per month) that would be used for various History projects.Justification
A year of Adobe Creative Cloud would allow Digital History students access to powerful graphic software for use with research and projects. With 2 licenses we can install Adobe CC on all 4 computers (2 laptops and 2 desktops)
Wall mounted widescreen TV for interviews and conferencing
Small form factor computer for use with conferencing / interviewing station
High Definition, Wide Angle Webcam with built-in mic.
Webcam for Video Conferencing and Interviewing.
Install carpet, remove old server lock box, wall mount TV and Pull-Down ScreenJustification
We want to renovate the space to better accommodate the acoustics of a video conferencing center, as well as free up space for the workstations by removing an ancient steel lock-box for a server that is no longer needed. We also want to mount the TV and pull-down screen for Conferencing.
Mount for Television
Pull down screen to set up professional looking setup for Interviews and Conferencing
Pull down screen for professional interviews
Large format scanner for use with scanning items for research projects that are larger than a legal size document.
Portable lighting kit to deploy as needed for professional video interviews and conferences.
Total requested: $22,105.54
Total funded: $18,445.78
Are you sure you want to discard votes and partials for this proposal?