Collaboration + Laboratory = The German Studies Collaboratory
By Jennifer Evans and Swen Steinberg
“We are all in this together” is not simply the solidarity slogan of our new reality in times of Covid-19. In May 2020, it became a starting point for a group of scholars teaching at North American universities: to collect online material for those interested in German language, art, culture, and history and to provide these resources for those teaching remotely. The German Studies Collaboratory officially launched August 11th 2020, with access to teaching resources, scholarly lectures, and research materials. Its aim is to provide open access to critical resources and foster collaboration across disciplines in the name of shared knowledge and expertise. At the same time, it is a laboratory for new methods in teaching, not only in times of pandemic but in the digital age.
From teaching modules and assignment ideas to webinars, podcasts and documents
The German Studies Collaboratory has three hubs. One showcases innovations in pedagogy, including assignment ideas, syllabi, and teaching modules. These digital tools are available in the Teaching Hub for adaptation to courses of all levels. The Media Hub houses links to film archives, lectures, documentaries, podcasts, and webinars. It will grow to feature links to short videos for use in the classroom. Projects in digital humanities, including international library and archive collections, bibliographies, images, sound and text documents for use in research or the classroom are featured in the Digital Hub. The online collections are fully searchable by keyword and tag. Through the Zeitnah Blog and submissions from users, the German Studies Collaboratory will – hopefully – become a place of lively critical reflection on how to meet the challenge of teaching and writing about German language, history, culture, society and politics in these difficult times.
The German Studies Collaboratory is the product of deliberations from various corners of German Studies, including the Teaching and Digital Humanities Networks of the German Studies Association and the Diversity, Decolonization, and the German Curriculum collective. It has the support of partners such as the German Historical Institute Washington and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
At the crossroad of public history and digital humanities
To say The German Studies Collaboratory represents a particular North American window into German themes is both truth and fiction. The team behind the initiative may be located in Canadian and American institutions, but their training, intellectual, and professional networks transcend region. They are at various stages in their careers. Some are literature and language specialists, others historians. Their own research spans time periods. One is a medievalist. It is perhaps more accurate to say that the project owes much to the place of public history and digital humanities in North America, and while the Collaboratory has benefited from institutional partnerships, it is an entirely independent act of collaborative creation.
The German Studies Collaboratory is a fully interdisciplinary endeavour, representing German Studies in the broadest sense. Each of the three hubs engages with diverse histories and themes, from migration, race, and empire to war, violence, and everyday life in multi-modal, transregional perspective. A second phase is under consideration which would take the Collaboratory into partnerships with European and especially German institutions, to expand the networked knowledge capacity and further explore the power and potential of digital conversations in both, teaching and research.
Jennifer Evans is Professor of History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is a member of the College of New Scholars, Royal Society of Canada.
Swen Steinberg is Post-doctoral Researcher at the Department of History at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, and Affiliated Scholar of the German Historical Institute in Washington with its Pacific Regional Office at University of California Berkeley. He is a Research Ambassador of the German Academic Exchange Service.
Citation: Jennifer Evans and Swen Steinberg, Collaboration + Laboratory = The German Studies Collaboratory, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 18.08.2020, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/24781.