RIT hosts area’s first THATCamp in humanities and technology

Friday’s event at the Strong National Museum of Play involves hands-on workshops

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Rochester Institute of Technology’s new Digital Humanities and Social Sciences program is hosting a THATCamp (short for The Humanities and Technology Camp) Friday, May 6, at The Strong National Museum of Play in downtown Rochester for faculty, librarians, archivists and those who work on humanities and technology.

The theme will be using digital humanities and social sciences tools and methods to teach undergraduates. RIT will begin offering a digital humanities and social sciences major in the fall.

The event is informal, with much of the agenda determined by the group that day. There will be group discussions and hands-on workshops rather than presentations, and attendees are expected to participate with others in sessions.

“This is intended to be a casual, relaxed event, with a flexible schedule based on what people are most interested in talking about,” said Trent Hergenrader, an assistant professor in the Department of English who is organizing the event with Professor Lisa Hermsen, RIT’s Caroline Werner Gannett Endowed Chair.

“We’ll likely talk about the new degree program and how faculty and staff may get involved, what kind of projects fit the curriculum, as well as hands-on workshops on things like how to set up a blog, how to start an interdisciplinary collaboration or how to use games effectively in the classroom,” Hergenrader said.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes tour at the museum, which is home of The International Center for the History of Electronic Games.

“Using games to teach is one of the methodologies used in digital humanities,” said Tamar Carroll, assistant professor of history and program director for RIT’s Digital Humanities and Social Sciences program. “Instructors can use games to teach specific content and skills, but we also encourage students to think critically about the social consequences of games and gaming.”

Featured speakers are Angel David Nieves, co-director of the Digital Humanities Initiative at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., who will talk about “Spatial Humanities, The Power of Place, and Disembodiments;” and Caitlin Fisher, co-founder of the Future Cinema Lab in York, Ont., which features interactive storytelling and interactive cinema in augmented reality environments, will talk about “The Future of Interactive Storytelling and Augmented Reality.”

Registration is free for RIT faculty, $35 for others and includes lunch.

Information on the digital humanities and social sciences major will also be available at Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival on May 7.