C. Overview of activities implemented during the three year life span of
C.1 Project partners
The partner group consists of a large number (> 100) of institutions in
Europe, comprising mainly universities, but also academic organizations
and associations which are among the foremost in applying advanced computing
in Humanities scholarship (ALLC, EACL, AHC, and CHArt). There is a full
representation of all countries eligible for participation in SOCRATES
From the start, the level of involvement of each partner was chosen
by adherence to one of the following groups:
Group A, CORE GROUP. These partners contribute 30 full-time working days
per year in the project, led by a senior staff member.
Group B, EXTENDED GROUP. These partners contribute 10 full-time working
days per year to network activities.
Group C. OBSERVER GROUP. These partners contribute 5 full-time working
days per year to network activities.
C.2 Relation between initial objectives and final outcomes
The underlying initial objectives addresses advanced computing on the humanities.
This concept has been fully and successfully realized through analysis,
discussion, testing and identification of best practice.
The network is aimed at the development of effective coordinated mechanisms
in the future of European undergraduate and graduate curricula in the humanities
by integrating advanced computing. This is placed in a context of reflection
on humanities in the digital age, by means of a thorough analysis of the
use of new technologies in humanities scholarship in Europe, identifying
opportunities, problems, and good practice with respect to the integration
of advanced computing. More specific objectives are the following (as formulated
in the report on the working year 1997-1998):
These objectives have been realized in a number of outcomes (see part D).
However, the audience as well as the realization of the outcomes differ
in the following respects from the originally stated plans.
to analyze the extent to which humanities scholars need advanced computing
methods for working with language, literature, history, logic, art, music,
to research how humanities students can better be prepared for the professional
world where our languages and cultures will increasingly be manipulated
by information technology;
to research how institutions are addressing the teaching of new skills
in advanced computing in their traditional humanities disciplines;
to facilitate the strengthening of advanced computing content in Humanities
programmes through European collaboration;
to identify learning modules for cross-disciplinary humanities programmes
with a broad agreement on advanced computing content, means of delivery
and learning, and potential uses;
to identify learning modules strengthening specialized computing in individual
to facilitate student mobility and the availability of teaching competence
in advanced computing;
to increase the accessibility of computational resources for humanities
scholarship (e.g. language data, text repositories, historical databases,
digitized art collections);
to collaborate with ODL projects in order to promote the integration of
accessible humanities resources in distance learning modules.
In the original project application, the primary target audience consisted
of undergraduate and graduate students at European institutions of higher
learning. The aim was to promote the participation of more than 1100 undergraduate
students and more than 360 masters level students in the network project.
Secondary target groups consisted of university departments with humanities
faculties and employers that rely on the knowledge and skills in advanced
computing in the humanities. It quickly became apparent in the first year
that the primary target should be the academic staff at the partner institutions
and that the nature of TNP projects do not make it feasible to address
large numbers of students directly. Thus the audience has shifted, although
this in itself has not had a major impact on general objectives.
The originally intended work towards a European degree in Advanced Computing
in the Humanities has been converted to more specific European degrees
linked to the different humanities disciplines covered by the project areas.
This has led to the analysis of discipline-specific curriculum issues involving
aspects of advanced computing an was complemented by other pedagogical
issues involving ODL and inventories of computational resources and tools
for the humanities and the various humanities disciplines.
The envisaged objectives consisting of common ground documents and formal
agreements were found to be premature. Instead, the project focused on
providing a forum for discussion, identification of best practice and dissemination.
As to concrete activities and outcomes, the original proposal mentions
meetings, workshops and conferences. These three types of activities were
indeed realized, but in a different time plan and on a different scope,
due to financial and time restrictions. A major international conference
was held in Bergen in September 1998 (see below) with a volume of published
Apart from a conference as a means of discussion and dissemination, two
media were used which were not originally planned: a web site was established
and a major publication is to be published in the summer of 1999.
C.3 Project approach
The realization that the humanities is in need of a common approach to
new technologies which is critically different from that in other areas
of study, is the starting point for our pedagogical and didactic approach.
This fits in a wider perspective based on the recognition that new technologies
are having a different impact on different scientific disciplines. The
resulting desirability of diversification by discipline-specific methodology
implies, in the case of the humanities, that the standard commercial tools
for word processing and image handling are totally insufficient for learning
and teaching at university level. In dealing with language and culture,
humanities scholars need very refined computing tools which are able to
handle sound and meaning, words and images, logic and art.
This approach has been pursued horizontally (with respect to various
methodologies and roles of advanced computing) as well as vertically (with
respect to the various humanities disciplines). A structure with vertical
and horizontal working groups was adopted. The vertical working groups
are strongly linked to one or more traditional humanities disciplines and
consist of the following:
The horizontal working groups take broader, humanities-wide perspectives
and consist of the following:
This structure promotes effective interaction within the working groups,
through regular group meetings, aided by ICT tools. Although the project
opted for physical meetings for its Policy Symposium and Conference, information
and communication systems were used extensively to prepare these meetings
and perform other information dissemination. Internet e-mail was intensively
used within and between working groups. The TNP web site http://www.uib.no/acohum
was and still is the primary source of information on the project and contains
a record of meetings, reports, papers and surveys. In addition, a special
web site was created for the conference, http://www.futurehum.uib.no.
The first year has mainly been an initialization effort concentrating
on organizing the network, awareness raising among our partners, and setting
up effective communication structures.
The second year was a broadening phase by creating a high-impact forum,
presenting analyses of ongoing work, promoting discussion, identifying
best practice and disseminating initial findings. These objectives were
achieved by organizing a big international conference (see below).
The third year is a production phase, aimed at consolidating results
and producing a handbook as a comprehensive accumulation of the work by
the network partners.
C.4 Project organization
The project coordinator kept track of progress. Overall decision making
was in the hands of the Steering Committee consisting of 5 international
experts. The 6 working groups (see above) worked quite autonomously on
their own agendas. They had their own regular meetings and their own areas
on the website.
Nevertheless, it was considered necessary to organize two common meetings.
A Policy Symposium was organized in November
1997 in Granada, where all working groups joined forces. The roles and
interrelationships between the working groups were discussed. Consequently,
the structures, objectives and plans of the TNP were adjusted. In September
1998, a joint conference on The
Future of the Humanities was organized, with the active participation
of all working groups, other TNP partners, and many other institutions
in Europe and worldwide (see also below).
C.5 Dissemination and exploitation of outcomes
In the first year of the project, leaflets and posters were printed to
increase the awareness of the project. These were distributed among partners
and handed out at a wide range of international events.
In order to address the project's objectives and establish a forum for
breaking through discipline boundaries as well as through national boundaries,
and to build a bridge between research and current educational practice,
a large international conference
on The Future of the Humanities was held in Bergen on September
25-28, 1998. Most of the project efforts in the academic year 1997-1998
were devoted toward the organization of this conference, which was
organized together with the ODL project Euroliterature.
The conference was realized with the additional financial support of the
Ministry of Education, the University
of Bergen and the City of Bergen. The conference received moral and
practical support by AHC,
Council of Universities,
and Kulturby Bergen 2000.
Additional dissemination was achieved through the presentation of the
network at the following externally organized events. Participation was
in the form of oral presentations, panel discussions, poster presentations,
and distribution of information material.
ALLC-ACH '98 conference,
SIU conference Making
it Work: Internationalization of higher education in a European perspective,
8th EAIE conference, Budapest
9th EAIE conference, Barcelona
10th EAIE conference, Stockholm
1st European Thematic
Network Forum, Dublin, 1997
ESPRIT information day, Brussels, 1997
DRH '97 conference, Oxford
DRH '98 conference, Glasgow
C.6 Financial sources
The major financial contribution came from the partners themselves, in
the form of staff time investments. Grants from SOCRATES provided additional
financial means. The table below shows sources of financing for eligible
C.7 Additional benefits and spin-offs
The TNP has caused awareness among learned societies and academic associations
such as the EACL, ALLC, CHArt as well as other international networks such
as ELSNET that educational innovation in the humanities is essential for
progress in research and employment in the humanities sector as well as
the ICT sector.
The TNP has cooperated with ELSNET for the testing and evaluation of
interactive www-based pedagogical materials in computational linguistics.
ELSNET spent EUR 30000 on development of such materials (of which half
was dedicated to computational linguistics).
An unexpected development consisted of a growing cooperation between
this TNP and the TNP on Speech Communication Sciences, with which the working
group on Computational Linguistics & Language Engineering has had a
C.8 Main problems encountered and devised solutions
There were no problems on the scientific and pedagogical levels. There
were no problems in communication and organization within the network.
A fundamental problem was that, although partner institutions nominally
back the involvement of their teaching staff, they do not always effectively
free sufficient staff time for project work. Staff involvement is therefore
more due to enthousiastic personal commitment rather than institutional
Major problems arose with the administration of the project. Contracts
and funds came late, delaying the start of the project and obstructing
The most important cost-effectiveness problem was the large effort needed
to write the final report. In particular the large amount of administration
and management required for the complicated financial part of the reporting
was beyond proportion to the grant. Since the amount of the grant is only
a small fraction of the total project cost, it is perceived as unreasonable
that a specific and costly accounting of the total project expenditure