C. Overview of activities implemented during the three year life span of the TNP

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 in 1996.

From the start, the level of involvement of each partner was chosen by adherence to one of the following groups:

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 extended abstracts.
  4. 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 Norwegian Ministry of Education, the University of Bergen and the City of Bergen. The conference received moral and practical support by AHC, ALLC, CHArt, CRE, EACL, EAIE, EDEN, ELSNET, HUMANITIES, Norwegian Council of Universities, Norwegian National Library, SIU, SOCRATES, TRANSCULT, 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.

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 costs.
year partners SOCRATES
1996-1997 13900  45000
1997-1998 396736 60000
1998-1999 250350 55000

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 3-day meeting.

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 commitment.

Major problems arose with the administration of the project. Contracts and funds came late, delaying the start of the project and obstructing the planning.

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 is required.