Digital Studies Initiative

The liberal arts remind us that we choose the nature of technologies – they don't choose us. Without the liberal arts, we will do a poor job of ensuring that citizens in the digital age are equipped to choose wisely. Saint Mary’s is exploring critical questions about teaching and learning in the digital age and has made demonstrable progress towards inclusive excellence. However, much remains to be done to understand the effects of both diversity and digital technology on the way we live, learn and work. Saint Mary’s is uniquely poised to forward these investigations through the lens of the liberal arts. 


We are pleased to report four broad areas of accomplishment during the second year of the three-year grant: (1) the design and implementation of the digital studies curriculum; (2) dialogues between industry and academia; (3) faculty development and training; (4) future sustainability of initiatives. These four thematic areas represent extensions of the achievements presented in last year’s report as well as reflect the seven original project objectives:

  1. Equip and staff a half-size digital media lab to be used in developing and offering new Digital Studies courses and support students and faculty who use digital media.
  2. Enhance knowledge of faculty in instructional methods using digital media and in new course content related to digital studies.
  3. Create and pilot six new courses to form the core of a Digital Studies minor.
  4. Evaluate newly created courses and approve them for inclusion in curriculum.
  5. Evaluate project and share findings with the campus and wider communities.
  6. Institutionalize and sustain the project.
  7. Prepare for the integration of digital studies across the broader curriculum.

High-technology firms want a more diverse pool of employees with the critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem-solving skills imparted by the liberal arts. And effective hiring for diversity can only yield positive outcomes if the organizational culture is inclusive. If historically underrepresented students with liberal arts skills are to succeed in the digital world, they need to learn with and about digital technology, while at the same time their employers need to develop a culture of inclusion.

These concepts lie at the heart of our Keck Digital Studies research project. Following is a description of the three-year project made possible through the W.M. Keck Foundation, and as presented in the January 2014 Interim Report.