March 2-8, 2001
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Budget standoff forces hiring, spending, building freezes
Faculty Senate approves master's program in digital humanities
Kuwait conference reviews history, aftermath
Magnet therapy shows limited pain relief

Panel considers fate of the individual in the face of technological media

U.Va. at night: a blend of tranquility and trauma
Class of 2001 hosts first reception honoring staff
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Faculty Senate approves master's program in digital humanities

By Rebecca Arrington

The establishment of a new master's degree in digital humanities was announced at the Feb. 21 Faculty Senate meeting. The degree will be offered through the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences' interdisciplinary Media Studies Program, pending approval from U.Va.'s Board of Visitors and the state.

The new degree will provide students with experience in recognizing and solving problems in humanities computing, as well as hands-on experience in designing and creating digital media, according to John Unsworth, associate professor of English and director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. Students who complete this degree might go on to further graduate work, a Ph.D. in a traditional humanities discipline for example, or they might seek employment in publishing, communications, commerce or cultural institutions.

Computers have become an integral part of the teaching of literature, history, religious studies and other disciplines, and the next generation of scholarly editions of major American authors will be electronic editions, the senate's Academic Affairs Committee wrote in endorsing the new degree.

"The master's degree in digital humanities will prepare graduate students to meet this immediate cultural need, and offer them the training to apply information technology to the intellectual content of the humanities, and to experiment with the analytical possibilities that information technology offers the humanities," Unsworth said.

The program will be a two-year cycle of core courses and electives. Students will take at least 27 hours of course work at the 500- to 900-level, participate in a one-credit internship and lead a one-credit teaching seminar. They will also enroll in several non-topical research courses, for a total of 48 credit hours, and work with a faculty adviser to develop a thesis project. Upon completion of the program, students will have familiarity with major computer operating systems and specialized software applications, such as visual programming software, multimedia authoring tools and databases, as well as with mark-up and programming languages.

The estimated annual budget for the new program is $291,777. This amount includes the cost of two additional faculty members, five teaching assistant fellowships, administration of entrance exams, and a summer programming course. Fifteen students a year will be accepted into the program.

Earlier at the meeting, U.Va. President John T. Casteen III discussed the role U.Va. might play in distance education at the international level, largely in Asia, in the not-so-distant future. "It's a major issue now of top-tier institutions," he said. Vice President and Provost Peter Low is leading a team examining the feasibility of such ventures, Casteen said. Three consortia of institutions "look promising," he said. They are: Universitas 21 (commonly referred to as U21) UNext, and Fathom. To learn more about them, see their Web sites at: http://www.nott.ac.uk/~brzww/u21/u21_proposals.html, http://www.unext.com/ and http://www. fathom.com/index.jhtml.

The University would propose a course "we want to provide to the consortia," Casteen said in response to a question from Faculty Senate Chair Patricia Werhane. "I haven't seen anything so far that takes away from the control deans and department heads have in developing courses," he said. "We're not being asked to give up anything, rather to do business in a different medium."

Casteen also gave an update on searches now under way for top-level University posts and mentioned that he had recently attended the first meeting for U.Va.'s new basketball arena.

Also at the meeting, two Darden School business students solicited comments from faculty for a survey they're conducting through a volunteer, student-run consulting organization. The survey will gauge the demand for a new faculty dining facility at U.Va., similar to the defunct Garden Room, and interest in membership to the newly renovated Colonnade Club. The survey, to be distributed via e-mail by Faculty Senate representatives, should be returned by March 9.

For complete minutes of the meeting, go to http://www.virginia.edu/faculty senate/


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