The digital scholarship (DS) multisite at Lewis & Clark provides opportunities for our students to cultivate and demonstrate skills in public digital scholarship. As of 2016, there are over 200 sites on the DS multisite.
The DS multisite runs on WordPress, an open-source content management system used on over a quarter of the top 10 million websites worldwide—the most widely used, fastest growing platform our students can learn. Complementing WordPress on the DS multisite are a host of contemporary Genesis themes to customize the look of sites, and a wide range of WordPress plugins to extend site functionality far beyond simple blogs. In addition, students login, and have the opportunity to promote their site content, via a connection with the very large world of WordPress.com. Our students thus develop important transferable skills in digital scholarship, public digital communication, and web authoring.
What exactly is public digital scholarship? Perhaps it is best defined from the outside in: liberal arts scholarship spans the sciences and humanities, for which digital scholarship takes a number of forms and may be directed toward a public audience. There are thus three innovative features of public digital scholarship: the first is the recognition of broadly common scholarly pursuits across a wide range of fields; the second involves how digital technologies accompany this range of scholarly pursuits; and the third involves how these technologies can facilitate the sharing of scholarly process and product with a variety of interested publics. Public digital scholarship is thus engaged scholarship, across multiple dimensions.
Though student work on the DS multisite involves more than simply blogging, writing is often key to public digital scholarship. Cathy Davidson, a noted scholar of English, digital media, and interdisciplinarity, says in Writing (in Public) Across the Curriculum,
So starting from a WAC [writing across the curriculum] foundation that learning to write well is an important life-long educational objective, the next step is writing in public in different fields, writing with engagement about topics that matter, and learning to take feedback from others who are also engaged in public discourse. The act of writing in public breaks the writing classroom out of a process and circuit and audience that can sometimes be too insular, too hot house, where the person teaching the writing is the only person grading and commenting on that writing, or when the only readers who are not teachers are in the class, hearing the same lessons in writing.
The DS multisite thus effectively connects the core virtues of Lewis & Clark’s liberal arts ethos—one in which scholarship, writing, and global reach are key—to a broad community of potentially interested audiences across the world.
If you’d like further information about the DS multisite, please send us email.