Babble Lab is a center for digital humanities pedagogy and research at Pace University. We believe that, by bringing together traditional and digital methods, humanities education in the twenty-first century has a vital role to play in making democracy. The traditional humanities disciplines have given us vital tools for critical thinking, creative expression, and cultural analysis. The digital humanities offer opportunities to build on those strengths: by adapting methods from STEM-related fields to advance humanistic inquiry, by reimagining learning as making, and by leveraging our learning and teaching to spark participation not only within but beyond the university walls.
As Babble Lab enters its second year, we invite you to consider what making democracy means in today’s world. Our choice of words takes its inspiration from the emphasis on learning through making that is central to the digital humanities--and that fuels the larger “maker” movement that encourages learners to create their own technological artifacts. As digital humanists themselves have emphasized, the creation of such artifacts--from new reading interfaces to collaborative digital publications to new computational representations of historical data--are not always ends in themselves. They are means of enhancing methods of humanistic inquiry, of encouraging greater reflection on the assumptions and omissions that inform our understanding of the past and the present, and of empowering learners to grapple with the challenges posed by the divisive politics and transitional media context of our digital age.
Democracy, after all, is not something that is simply achieved and then stands still. It requires an ongoing process of making and remaking through engagement, debate, and creativity.
We invite you to explore making democracy with Babble Lab:
How might the digital humanities help us to democratize the production of knowledge itself?
What role might higher education play (i.e. course offerings, assignment sharing, public forums) in advancing a participatory culture that values ideas, debate, creativity, social justice, and civic engagement?
How might we finally arrive at a world that recognizes the dignity of all humans by giving them a place in the world not as subjects, or consumers, or even citizens, but as participants--as creators who each have something unique to contribute?