The Digital Scholarship Support Group (DSSG) provides faculty, students, and staff interested in incorporating digital methods into their teaching and research with a single point of entry to the many resources available at Harvard.
The DSSG was founded in 2015 by Gabriel Pizzorno, faculty in the Department of History, and Jeffrey P. Emanuel, Associate Director of Academic Technology, with charter members also representing the Harvard Library and Arts & Humanities Research Computing. Initially conceived as a way to formalize work that had coalesced around a series of digital initiatives in History and Academic Technology, the DSSG developed more or less organically as a means to address the lack of generalized, accessible, consistent, and discoverable support for Digital Scholarship at Harvard, particularly for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The DSSG brings together faculty and staff with technical, pedagogical, and subject-specific expertise in a range of areas across disciplinary and divisional borders to create the technical and personnel resources necessary to support digital scholarship. Members are based in a number of campus organizations, including academic departments, research centers, and museums, as well as multiple units within the Harvard Library and Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT).
This network provides a forum where sustained dialogue among the units represented allows for all parties to fully understand one another’s needs and objectives. Additionally, the knowledge base offered by the DSSG facilitates quick, agile analyses of issues related to digital scholarship, while facilitating a “no wrong door” approach to connecting questions and requests with the appropriate support organization or individual, thereby forging the shortest path to exactly the right expertise.
The DSSG’s core activities focus on three areas (click the links below to learn more):
- Digital Literacy: The DSSG’s literacy initiatives aim to provide opportunities for faculty and students to acquire digital skills and support their efforts to build new forms of engagement at the curricular level;
- Research Support: The DSSG supports the use of digital methods and research techniques by making expert advice and special infrastructure available to researchers, as well as cultivating a community of practice that facilitates comparing approaches and finding support; and
- Infrastructure Development: The DSSG’s member organizations, and partners across the University, work together to develop well-integrated, University-supported hardware and software frameworks, along with the in-house expertise essential to support them.
The DSSG draws members from units across the university, including academic departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University Information Technology, the Harvard Library, the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences, and other Harvard-affiliated institutes and centers. The DSSG often meets in the Academic Technology suite, but does not currently have a physical presence on campus or any dedicated FTEs.
Membership in the DSSG falls into four categories: Oversight Committee, Standing Committee, Member, and Affiliate membership. The group is co-chaired by two members of the Standing Committee, a member of the faculty and a staff member, who are appointed to the roles on a rotating basis.
- DSSG Standing Committee Member
Members of the DSSG Standing Committee (DSSG-SC) are directly involved in the day-to-day running of the group. They plan the group’s activities, teach workshops, organize events, and, in coordination with the DSSG Oversight Committee they articulate the broader, long-term strategy of the group. DSSG-SC members are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings, participate in some of the sub-committees that develop and supervise the group’s initiatives. Membership in the DSSG-SC entails a considerable time commitment, and where appropriate staff are advised to discuss the role with their manager or supervisor before joining.
- DSSG Member
DSSG Members are Harvard staff and faculty who wish to be involved in the activities of the group but not commit the time required by full DSSG-SC membership. Among other activities, DSSG Members co-teach or facilitate workshops, help organize events, and consult with students and faculty on research and teaching projects. The role is suitable for experienced digital scholarship practitioners without the bandwidth to participate in the DSSG-SC, as well as for staff who wish to expand their portfolio into digital scholarship work. DSSG members are expected to contribute to at least one workshop or event per term, be involved in support and consultation (via Slack, email, and/or individual meetings), and participate in infrequent, smaller meetings to plan events and activities.
- DSSG Affiliate
DSSG Affiliates are members of the Harvard community that, while not regularly involved in the organization and running of DSSG initiatives, have close ties to the group and are willing to support occasional activities, such as teaching specialized workshops or providing project consultations.