The Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH-EU) is proud to announce it has signed a new Cooperating Partnership agreement with the University of Helsinki.
DARIAH is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) whose mission is to empower research communities with digital methods to create, connect and share knowledge about culture and society. In addition to having 20 member states and one observer country, DARIAH has also established a network of cooperating partners in non-member countries.
The University of Helsinki (UH) is one of the leading multidisciplinary research universities in the world. The tradition of innovative combination of computation and different subject disciplines at the university is strong. “University of Helsinki is the alma mater of Linus Torvalds (Linux) and obviously the road to Nokia back in the days was not long”, reminds us vice-rector Hanna Snellman, one of the key-persons behind UH’s steps towards DARIAH during the past ten years. Some 35,000 students are currently pursuing an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree at the University of Helsinki.
“It is a real pleasure to renew the University of Helsinki’s cooperating partnership with DARIAH,” said Edward Gray, DARIAH Officer for National Coordination. “Our collaboration goes way back, seeing for example that Mikko Tolonen was the keynote speaker at the first DARIAH Annual Event back in 2016. The University of Helsinki has been a strong partner as we advance DARIAH in Finland and I look forward to their continued work in the infrastructure.”
Engagement in Digital Humanities
The Faculty of Arts at UH has a long history of engagement in digital humanities. Computational humanities at the faculty has been practiced over 50 years. The engagement in language technology in particular has been extensive in the past decades. “Finland has been a member of CLARIN for some time, and now it is time to take decisive steps to also join DARIAH-EU”, says Snellman. The idea is not only to strengthen the different aspects of computation within the humanities, but also to include social sciences into the mix and to lower the barriers between humanities and social science.
The Faculty of Arts has also invested in the teaching of digital humanities. The Department of Digital Humanities within the Faculty defines DH broadly to include language technology, cognitive science and phonetics. At the University of Helsinki, digital humanities is taught in different minor subject modules while for the last couple of years there has also been a MA track for digital humanities that is open for students outside the University as well. This MA, with a focus on integrated interdisciplinary collaboration, is growing rapidly in popularity.
University of Helsinki has been also active in building different institutions to foster computation and interdisciplinary work among scholars of different backgrounds. HELDIG, the Centre for Digital Humanities, is a research network and infrastructure for solving research problems in humanities and social sciences with novel computational methods, and for studying digitalization as a phenomenon. HELDIG also supports education in Digital Humanities and application development. Initiated as a major strategic profiling initiative at the University of Helsinki, the goal has been to form an ecosystem that fosters collaboration between academic research groups, memory organizations, companies and the general public.
As a new undertaking, the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) also promotes and coordinates research cooperation and infrastructure development in humanities and social sciences (SSH) at the University of Helsinki. “It should be underlined that we also have a Methodological Unit that brings together expertise in methodology and digital resources relevant to the collection, analysis and management of SSH research data”, says Risto Kunelius, director of HSSH institute.
One strength of combining computation in the humanities at the University of Helsinki is the shaping of different research groups with interdisciplinary backgrounds. For example, VARIENG unit studying variation, contact and change in English has been successful in international research for decades while the Helsinki Computational History Group (COMHIS) has been operating for almost ten years applying mixed methods in the field of history.
Integration within DARIAH
One important objective of the University of Helsinki is to advance national collaboration through DARIAH-FI leading towards full-membership in DARIAH, to build networks and set up FIN-CLARIAH in practice. FIN-CLARIAH seeks to broaden the scope of infrastructural support in two major new directions: first, to reach beyond language materials into other kinds of materials in the form of structured and multimodal big data; and second, to cater to a broader range of SSH fields. “The most important thing is to put our roadmap into practice”, says Krister Lindén, the director of FIN-CLARIAH. The next three years of the Cooperating Partnership collaboration with DARIAH-EU are expected to be crucial for shaping digital humanities at the University of Helsinki.
For more information on the Cooperating Partners membership in DARIAH, their role, tasks and benefits, have a look at our detailed post here.