by RIKKILYNN SHIELDS, Senior Writer
Manhattan College’s School of Liberal Arts currently houses 17 majors and 30 minors in arts, humanities, and social sciences. The most unique of its kind, Digital Arts and Humanities (DAsH), has officially become a minor at Manhattan College. As stated in an article on the college’s the DAsH courses “bring the techniques of data analysis and digital representation to traditional questions in the humanities and social sciences.”
Overall, the DAsH minor is meant to shape critical thinkers in a digital age– and that’s exactly what Maeve Adams, assistant professor of English and creator of the minor, is aiming to do in every single DAsH class offered at Manhattan.
The idea for the DAsH minor came about when Maeve Adams, assistant professor of English who specializes in 19th-Century British Literature, decided that, rather than strictly studying literature and taking different core classes involving mathematics and other methods there had to be a way to combine it all.
Adams and the other faculty who came up with DAsH wanted to create a minor that provides students with digital skills that professors found themselves using in their own careers.
“Many faculty, particularly in the School of Liberal Arts were already doing this kind of work. Dr. Adam Arenson, in the History Department, for example, conducts research and teaches classes that use computing technologies to study the history of slavery, tracking migrations of freed slaves after abolition,” said Adams. “My own research has used digital archives and large corpus data analysis to map and visualize the development of literary genres and trends over long periods of time. We also spent a lot of time researching similar programs at other small and large colleges across the country, considering how we might craft a program that was unique to Manhattan College while drawing on the lessons learned in developing interdisciplinary programs like this one.”
Following the idea for the DAsH minor, Adams believes that pursuing to get it approved as an official minor within the school of Liberal arts was both valuable and important.
“There are couple of super practical reasons. Our faculty were already doing the kind of work that falls under the heading of DAsH, so why not capitalize on those skills and produce a more coherent, integrated program that would get students more involved in that cutting edge research,” said Adams. “Increasingly, furthermore, potential employers not only expect students to be strong critical thinkers and coherent writers, they also expect them to have at least some familiarity with things like HTML, data-visualization and even VR/AR development.”
“DAsH will make students into the double threats of our current job market. Like actors who can also sing and dance, our students will have a leg up on jobs because they can deploy these skills in tandem and meaningful relationship with one another… It’s not enough anymore to just be able to build a webpage; increasingly you also need to understand why that webpage will matter to potential visitors and persuasively articulate those values to potential funders or consumers.”
Isabel Quinones, a junior at Manhattan College thinks the minor is a great step up for Manhattan College in creating a new minor that will be appealing to a large group of students.
“Even though I am in the school of Education and Health, I think this minor is a good opportunity for students in the School of Liberal Arts to reach out to different departments and take classes they would not typically take with their normal major track. It’s so cool that Manhattan College is trying to make their programs more competitive and appealing for students once they get out into the workforce.”
Christyann Armen, a sophomore psychology major says the DAsH minor is something that sparked her interest immensely.
“After hearing about the DAsH minor, I was instantly fascinated. With plans to go to nursing school after finishing up here, I think the courses that the DAsH minor offer create such a unique classroom environment, and can help me hone skills I need to be not only an attractive employee, but also skills I could use in my day-to-day life. Technology is something that seems to keep growing, and being able to learn important skills of such nature is something I’d love to do while finishing up my last two years of studies at MC,” Armen said.
Classes range from History 100: Slavery in the Bronx, to English 335: Victorian Media or English 392: Writing and Remembering. All of these classes which will include not only a set curriculum, but will also implement a variety of digital skills. Students who partake in the DAsH minor or even just take a class or two with the DAsH tag on it can expect to learn HTML, augmented reality development, virtual reality development, Excel, WordPress, GeoJSON, data visualization, and digital archives.
What’s different about DAsH, however, in comparison to other minors offered at Manhattan College, is the fact that it is interdisciplinary– something few other minors at Manhattan College are.
“Like a few other minors on campus DAsH is an interdisciplinary minor, but DAsH draws faculties not only from all disciplines in the Liberal Arts, but from from other schools on campus, including the Business School and, we project, Education, Engineering and Science. DAsH is also not only a minor; it is a cross-college curricular initiative that aims to make the DAsH experience an opportunity for any student.”
The mission of this minor is to educate broadly. Overall, the creation of the DAsH minor is meant to encourage students to reach out of the classroom and engage in experiences that go beyond the walls of the traditional college classroom.
“With the founding of the DAsH program, we have also formed a partnership with the NYC Media Lab–an organization that fosters public-private liaison that will yield internship opportunities for students at companies like Verizon and Audible. Because were are one of just a handful of schools who have been invited into partnership with Columbia, CUNY, NYU and a few others, students and faculty at Manhattan College will also have opportunities to collaborate with people at those other institutions on research and innovation projects. DAsH will elevate and expand the kinds of opportunities that translate into lifelong value for Manhattan College graduates.”
For Adams, the goal of the minor is not only to educate, but it is also to invest in the future of technology and its importance and ever growing relevance in the job sphere.
“DAsH knows no potential bounds–because it is invested in the present and future of digital tools and data-analytic methods, we expect the program to grow with the times, constantly updating student learning and opportunities with respect to the technologies that define our world and the persistent questions and concerns they raise.”
Regardless of your major, look out for DAsH approved courses when creating your Fall 2019 schedule, and consider adding on a minor that will give you a unique skill set in the many Liberal Arts fields.
“DAsH fills in the gaps for all students, whatever their chosen major. DAsH creates critical thinkers for the digital age,” said Adams.