History and Art History Department Collaborates with Smithsonian on New Online Academic Program

by Brian Platt, Chair, Department of History and Art History

Beginning in fall 2015, the Department of History and Art History and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Associates, will offer a new graduate certificate program in Digital Public Humanities. This is a one-year, 15-credit hour certificate program that includes three fully online courses and a 6-credit virtual summer internship with a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The coursework is designed to help students achieve mastery of the digital tools and skills that are increasingly necessary for career advancement as a humanities professional. The internship will provide students with the opportunity to apply those tools and skills in hands-on digital projects with the nation’s premier public humanities institution.

The online platform for the courses is being developed by a team of faculty and staff at the department’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.  While many online course platforms are ill-suited for the forms of interaction that are essential to the study of the humanities, this collaboration between developers at the center with professional historians will result in highly interactive courses that take full advantage of the digital medium.  After completing the coursework, students will be placed in virtual internships in which they will work on digital projects using the Smithsonian Institution’s unparalleled collections and resources. 

This new program represents yet another collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and George Mason University.  In addition to the partnership between Mason and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute on the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC), the Department of History and Art History and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences have also collaborated with Smithsonian Associates to run the Smithsonian-Mason M.A. program in the History of the Decorative Arts.