Project Management in the Humanities | 2024

Digital Humanities Summer Institute

Wednesday, June 5

4:00pm – 5:15pm PDT

All times are in Pacific Daylight Time




Lynne Siemens (U Victoria)



Session 1


Moderator: Kristen Young



Kristen Young, Lisa Ndejuru, MJ Rwigema, Samantha Nyinawumuntu, and Katya Stella Assoé (Concordia U)
“Community Centered Knowledges, Engaging Community-University Partnerships Through Black Wellness”

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Abstract: Community Centered Knowledges: fostering Black wellness in Montreal is a SSHRC funded community-university research project where primarily Black thinkers, organisers, and people with lived experience come together and think, do, and invent sustainable, race-aware, equitable community-level responses to the wellness needs of Montreal’s Black community. The project aims to achieve four objectives: (1) to understand how members of diverse Black communities in Montreal describe themselves; (2) to understand and address the impacts of intersectional anti-Black racism on Montreal’s Black communities and the ways wellness plays a part; (3) to identify and articulate how Black-serving organisations in Montreal respond to the diverse wellness needs of Black communities; and (4) to mobilise and disseminate approaches to racial and healing justice and wellness rooted in the knowledges of Montreal’s Black communities.

The community-university team consists of a diverse group whose experiences add much to the participatory methods of the project. Their backgrounds and skills bring intentional ways of working that are unique to an academic setting. Leaning on the skills of the community members, this project team is bringing anti-oppressive, harm reductive, and transformative justice approaches to project management in the humanities. Through this presentation, team members will show how prioritising individual needs, making space for rest and wellness, and adjusting project timelines to ensure team members health is always priority one has ultimately advanced the project’s overall goal of learning about Black wellness by showing and doing through the very team that is researching the impacts in the wider community.



Danielle Taschereau Mamers (U Toronto)
“Accidental Project Management Training: Experiential Learning Through a UX Design Accelerator”

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Abstract: Behind every digital research project, there is a research team with diverse expertise. However, universities do not always have adequate or coordinated resources to support collaborative research, particularly in the case of humanities. The Critical Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI) at the University of Toronto has identified the human infrastructure necessary to support and sustain critical digital scholarship. Beginning as a pilot project in Summer 2022, CDHI developed the UX Design for DH Accelerator program. Now an annual program, the Accelerator is a hub for experiential learning. Our initial goal was to create a high-quality experiential learning opportunity for Master of Information Co-op students and to provide needed design support for digital humanities research. However, while supporting 15 critical DH projects through intensive Accelerator sessions, we have inadvertently created experiential learning opportunities for an unlikely group: faculty members. This presentation will outline the structure of our Accelerator sessions and how these sessions model accessible and efficient methods of project planning, participatory decision-making, communication, and accountability to faculty members and their research teams. Alongside offering the unique opportunity to work with a UX Designer and Web Developer, faculty members have reported learning valuable project management tools and techniques through the Accelerator process that can be carried forward in their work. While it was not part of our original vision, the accidental project management training that we have built into the Accelerator program has increased our impact on DH research and collaborative research more broadly across the University.



Jolene Armstrong (Athabasca U), Angela Joosee (Independent Scholar), and Monique Tschofen (Toronto Metropolitan U)
“Lessons in Project Management for Research-creation: The Decameron Collective”

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Abstract: Formed in March 2020, the Decameron 2.0 is collective of nine Canadian feminist artists and scholars. Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of individuals began meeting weekly over Zoom to write, make, and theorize. Inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s plague narrative The Decameron (1348-1353) – a medieval frame narrative about a group of ten who flee a plague-torn Florence to a retreat to the country where they pass the time telling stories – the nine members of the Decameron Collective found solace, care, and community through digital storytelling. Since then, the Collective has amassed a body of digital artworks which they have installed in two collaborative projects: Decameron 2.0 (2022), a WebGL world, and Memory eternal Вічная Пам’ять: Book of Mourning (2023), a VR environment. The structure of the Decameron 2.0 is non-hierarchical, and contributions by different members fluctuate depending on availability, interest, and levels of expertise. The organizational culture is one of collaboration, information sharing, creative experimentation, and support. The non-hierarchical structure and highly creative environment pose distinctive challenges for project management while at the same time the collaborative and multimodal nature of these projects required the implementation of project management tools. This lightning talk will reflect on some of the tools borrowed from agile and traditional project management that the Collective adapted in the realization of these projects. These include the implementation of “scrum” meetings, as well as the development of personas, user stories, task breakdown structures, and risk registers…while simultaneously embracing the potency of chaos.



Libby Cave (Grinnell College)
“Involving Students with Digital Projects via Vivero Digital Fellowship Program”

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Abstract: Involving students with digital projects is challenging and can lead to frustration on the part of both the project lead and the students. The Vivero Digital Fellowship at Grinnell College, created by Mirzam Pérez (Spanish professor), Liz Rodrigues, and Rachel Schnepper, seeks to address the issues around involving students in digital projects by integrating student management into the project’s framework. With Vivero, students gain the invaluable experience of working closely with faculty and staff on digital projects, the soft and hard technical skills needed for successful project work, and confidence in Digital Humanities theories and methods, while faculty and staff can expand their digital scholarship ideas, lean on students and Vivero leads for technical expertise, reap the full benefits of student labor, and establish rewarding mentor relationships. The Vivero program takes the burden of hiring, training, employee management, and technical expertise off the shoulders of faculty and staff, which allows faculty and staff to feel more empowered to start digital projects. For students, the Vivero program provides the hard and soft skills that future employers will find valuable, the structure and guidance needed to be successful in their digital projects, and the opportunity to share their skills with other students via peer mentoring hours. Since 2017, the Vivero program enabled 46 students to work on 26 projects with Grinnell Faculty and staff. In addition, these students have helped numerous peers with their digital scholarship via the peer mentoring aspect of the program. The Vivero program’s work with students, is truly creating a digital liberal arts community of practice at Grinnell College that embodies the College’s commitment to social justice, diversity, and excellence in undergraduate liberal arts education.



Wrap up


Lynne Siemens