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Union to host THATCamp on humanities and engineering



What happens when you bring together dozens of academics, students and professionals for a freewheeling conversation about the humanities and engineering?

We will soon find out when Union hosts its first THATCamp Sept. 26 and 27.

Designed to be fun and intellectually engaging, THATCamp (“The Humanities and Technology Camp”) is an open, interdisciplinary “unconference” for humanists and technologists of all skill levels to learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot.

THATCamp was started by scholars at George Mason University in 1998 and a grant from the Mellon Foundation. More than 100 THATCamps have been held across the globe.

According to the national organization, the program for an unconference isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than in advance by a program committee. Also, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session.

At Union, participants will explore ways in which the humanities and engineering can “intersect, tease, connect, overlap, converse, interfere and play an awesome game of PONG with each other.”

In addition to voting on proposed topics, participants are encouraged to submit proposals to lunch-time “lightning talks.” Among the ideas already submitted are using geographical information system software and internet technologies for multidisciplinary cultural education.

There also will be a series of hands-on bootcamps on topics such as Music and Electrical Engineering, 3D Printing, Philosophy and Technology, Digital Map Storytelling, Makerspaces, Arduino, and Robots and Humans.

“This engaging and collaborative unconference allows all of the participants to explore connection points and common vocabularies while feeling comfortable playing, exploring and learning,” said Christine Henseler, professor of Spanish and one of the event organizers.

Participants can also view a special exhibit in Schaffer Library curated by Annette LeClair,  the library’s head of technical services, “Humanities + Engineering” at Union.

THATCamp is open to the public. Registration fee is $20; free to all undergraduates and Union staff and to the first 50 Union faculty members. For more information, click here.

THATCamp is sponsored and organized in collaboration with the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The consortium facilitates collaboration among its member institutions through the sharing of expertise and resources. In addition to Union, members include Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Skidmore College and St. Lawrence University.

Besides Henseler, other organizers of the event include Andrew Burkett, assistant professor of English, Kesheng Yu, instructional technology coordinator, Ellen Borkowski, chief information officer, Frances Maloy, College librarian, Mina Evtimova-Rios, senior web developer, and  Meg Worley of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at  Colgate. THATCamp also received support from Wendy Sternberg, dean of Academic Departments and Programs.