Between 29 August and 1 September, Uppsala University in Sweden hosted the 6th Matariki Humanities Network Colloquium on the theme The Past & the Future. The Colloquium was the last one in the series of colloquia, which started in Dartmouth in 2013. Drawing on this, and as reflected in the chosen theme, the four days were spent reviewing the experiences of the past, and holding constructive discussions on the continued activities of the Network.
Participating from Dartmouth were Susanne Mehrer, Dean of Libraries; Graziella Parati, Paul D. Paganucci Chair of Italian Literature and Language and Director, Leslie Center for the Humanities; Jennifer Taxman, Associate Librarian for Research and Learning; and Barbara Will, Associate Dean for the Arts & Humanities.
It was clear that the network has evolved over the years; effectively adapting to the needs of the partner universities, and gearing towards projects that over time proved most productive. The Library and Faculty Streams have gradually merged their activities, with the Faculty Stream increasingly emulating the working-modes of the Library Stream; occupying itself with institutional and infrastructural issues of common interest to the partner universities in the ambitions to develop international excellence in research and education.
There were several concrete outcomes from the Colloquium. Alongside the joint sessions, there were separate sessions. Faculty Stream (again in an innovative manner and inspired by Library Stream) met to discuss a common and shared problem in daily academic activities. Based on data from the partner universities, the issue of student admissions within the Humanities was mapped and discussed; in order to model strategies to strengthen the field and ensure student numbers for the future. Meanwhile, Library Stream continued its highly successful and long-term project ‘Open Matariki’, aiming to promote and accelerate the adoption of open science policies within the Network; thereby lowering the economic barriers to the creation and dissemination of academic publications and expand the types of research outputs that contribute to the formal scholarly communication system.
For future activities, delegates agreed to seize on the lessons from the past, and to frame the continued activities accordingly. Recognizing the evident advantages of a closer interaction between Library- and Faculty Stream, and putting into practice the working-forms which will allow for a more continuously active Network, focusing on the overall theme of the role and relevance of the Humanities today, the partner universities aim to further increase the efficiency and impact of collaboration. This will be achieved by jointly enabling academic excellence by improving infrastructure, exchanging best practices and initiating collaborations in research and education though exchanging and discerning best practices. Research- and library resources and facilities will also be shared, for economic- as well as administrative- and strategic gains; and the network will also take on the role of an active and tangible supporter of the Humanities- within academia as well as in public discourse.
The first step has been taken and the delegates decided to meet at UWA, Perth, in 2019. Within the overall network-focus on the role and relevance of the Humanities, the theme of this meeting will be Digital Humanities, its impact and use within teaching and research, and its potential as a means to further strengthen the Humanities - within academia and beyond.