Last week, DHN had its 2nd conference in beautiful Gothenburg. With nearly 200 participants and 60 presentations, over a dozen posters and three keynotes it was as well received as the Oslo conference in 2016 and supports the initial idea, that the Nordic countries could and should join their efforts in making Digital Humanities (in the broadest sense) more visible, more integrated, and sustainable.
Before the the conference, DHN had invited to participate in a variety of pre-conference workshops and I decided to join the one on Higher Education Programs in Digital Humanities: Challenges and Perspectives, organized by Koraljka Golub from Linnæus University in Växjö, Sweden. – Shortly after enrolling, I was asked if I could report on the situation in Norway which I agreed to do: after all, I thought, there isn’t much to report on anyways but it will give me the chance to do some research on what is happening DH-education-wise in my country of residence!
My initial suspicion was quite true, though: At the present moment, there is no DH-study program in higher education in Norway. (A DH-study program would be called “Digital Humanities” or “Digital Humaniora” but also “Humanities Computing” / “Humanistisk Informatikk”, either on B.A./B.Sc. or M.A./M.Sc. level.) However, finding that there isn’t anything called ‘DH’ does not mean, that there is no such thing like ‘DH’. I expanded my search and attempted also a more systematic approach:
- Which disciplines are commonly meant when talking about ‘Humanities’ and what does ‘Digital’ (or the older term ‘Computing’) refer to in this context?
- What are the institutions of higher education in Norway?
- Where in Norway are institutions located that provide a DH or DH-like or DH-near education?
I created a spreadsheet with all the institutions of Higher Ed in Norway and the study programs (1-year-studies, B.A./B.Sc., M.A./M.Sc.) that would fit – in the broadest and most inclusive way – under the DH-umbrella. This list can be seen here (and comments are welcome!), however, it is not finished yet. In order to get something presentable and discussable, I was rather lax in my categories: I included almost anything related to computer science, data science, data engineering, ICT-teaching; media (and film) studies; interface design and digital design; digital culture; but also statistics, e-Health, e-Administration etc.
This resulted in a large number of study programs on all levels at almost all the institutions of higher education. I think this is actually an advantage: It is easier to delete something from a list after re-evaluation of the search criteria than adding something new. The presentation of my preliminary results can be accessed (and commented on) here.
Although there is very little that would intuitively be considered DH-studies, Norway has a strong focus on the digital / data driven / computational and ICT studies. Especially in its application for society, research, the medicine and health sector, governance and administration (incl. law), and teaching. Within the humanities, the focus seems to be more on the ‘digital’ as an object of study, not so much as a set of methods and approaches to deal with cultural, social, and artistic objects. Almost exclusively within media and cultural studies, digital humanities aspects can be found; especially at the University of Bergen and Norway’s Inland University (formerly University College in Hedmark).
I also discussed what this means for DH in the Nordic countries and DH in Norway specifically: DH in Norway are both young and old, the state endorses higher education (including the humanities) quite substantially, and has a strategic plan for ‘Digital’ Norway as one, if not THE, sustainable industry and (public) service of the future. Which all in all looks pretty promising for DH in higher ed. If this necessarily means that we have to establish DH-study programs (in the narrow sense), I am not sure about. Or if it means that the ‘digital turn’ in ANY field of study, including the humanities, is inevitable. And I believe this is a good thing.
I plan to expand my preliminary study a bit, especially in making a thought-through, transparent selection of criteria as to what counts as DH-proper and DH in a wider sense (in Norway at least) and what I consider to be a study program (perhaps excluding the 1-year-studies altogether) and an institution of higher education. I will also conduct comprehensive interviews with Norwegian academics who research and teach in DH-related programs and future plans and do a more in depth analysis of the strategic plans of the Ministry of Education and Research, The Research Counsil of Norway and other science and education policy institutions in Norway regarding the ‘digital’. So: stay tuned!