This article was originally published in Penn News, 06/02/2015. It can be viewed here in its original form

Rebecca Rebalsky & Amanda Mott

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently awarded the University of Pennsylvania a $2 million grant to support University initiatives in the digital humanities in both Penn Arts and Sciences and Penn Libraries.

“The Mellon Foundation’s generous philanthropy will serve to strengthen Penn’s abiding commitment to the most creative scholarship and teaching in the humanities,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “We are grateful for the Foundation’s partnership as we launch key initiatives to advance the use of technology along with innovative analyses of the most important big data in the study of the humanities.”

“Digital humanities” is an umbrella term for the proliferation of digital and computational technologies that are being applied to scholarship across higher education and transforming the way humanists work. The digital humanities encompass tools ranging from computers that read massive amounts of digitized writing to facilitate the analysis of texts and detect previously invisible patterns, to geographic information systems (GIS) that present complex histories in the form of interactive maps, to 3-D modeling technologies that can produce immersive re-creations of archaeological sites and artifacts.

Penn’s Humanities in the Digital Age Initiative builds upon projects that have been underway in Penn Arts and Sciences, the Libraries, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The initiative seeks to consolidate the University’s existing digital resources and significantly expand them in order to profoundly strengthen humanities teaching and research.

The Mellon Foundation grant will help fund special training for faculty and students in the latest digital tools and methods, and enable collaborative, experimental faculty-student research and classroom projects. As a result, Penn will be better positioned to fully utilize the new Price Lab for the Digital Humanities, which was made possible by a $7 million gift from Penn Arts and Sciences Overseer Michael J. Price, W’79, and his wife Vikki.

“The Mellon Foundation grant further strengthens Penn’s leadership in the digital humanities revolution,” said Penn Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Fluharty, who also noted that the digital humanities initiative is a key component of the School’s new strategic plan. “With the digital humanities we will not only produce new knowledge but new ways of knowing, and new ways to show and share outcomes and results.”