Digital Humanities

Rochester Institute of Tech To Blend Tech and Liberal Arts in New Major

A new bachelor's degree at Rochester Institute of Technology expects to combine technical courses and liberal arts subjects. Students who pursue the BS degree in Digital Humanities will take courses in such topics as "culture and computers," "media archeology," "digital storytelling" and "ethics in the emerging digital era." But they'll also learn basic programming and design principles in Web development and will eventually shape their curriculum to fit their own career directions.

The new major isn't completely out of left field. Two years ago Rochester began offering a minor in digital humanities. And all of the institution's students are required to take liberal arts courses. They also use one semester during their college careers to gain "on-the-job learning."
Rochester's Chair of Humanities, Lisa Hermsen, with Assistant Professor Shaun Foster and students view a virtual 3D model of the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. Photographer: A. Sue Weisler.

"RIT is poised to offer the new major because we have exceptional programs already in humanities, social sciences, information technology, game design and media studies," said Lisa Hermsen, the school's chair of Humanities. "Now we are bringing this all together to educate students on the important role that technology plays in today's world and what it means to be human and live socially."

She said she believes the new program could "change the way people think" about liberal arts majors. "We know employers want students with strong communication and critical thinking skills. Now we're adding computational skills and the ability to use and work with digital tools."

The program is being run by Tamar Carroll, a faculty member in the Department of History. A multi-disciplinary set of advisors will come from the colleges of Liberal Arts, Computing & Information Sciences and Imaging Arts & Sciences.

Rochester will begin registering students for this new major starting in fall 2016.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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