Thinking Digitally: Data & Culture (IDSC 230) was designed to interrogate the information, machines, and systems that structure our lives. Using the Whitman Campus and the Walla Walla community as a source of materials and a laboratory, students worked collaboratively to design critical research questions that could be answered using digital tools. Students investigated practical, ethical, intellectual, creative, and critical interactions between the digital and non-digital worlds through text manipulation, data visualization, and storytelling. The class explored systems of knowledge, used tools to structure and work with many kinds of data, and engaged with debates about digital research methodologies. A team of faculty and staff with expertise in a variety of fields designed the course, which was taught in the Spring of 2017.
Sharon Alker, English
Amy Blau, Instructional & Data Services Librarian
Rachel George, Anthropology
Sarah Hurlburt, French
Emily Jones, German Studies & Environmental Humanities
Colin Justin, Instructional & Learning Technologist for Humanities
Justin Lincoln, Art
Lydia McDermott, Composition & Director of the Center for Writing and Speaking
Ben Murphy, Instructional & Research Librarian
Mike Osterman, Director of Enterprise Technology
Nico Parmley, Spanish
Melissa Salrin, Archivist & Special Collections Librarian
David Sprunger, Director of Instructional & Learning Technology
Students in REL 348 use materials in the Whitman College and Northwest Archives to investigate possible factors behind the secularization of Whitman College. When Whitman became a college in 1882, it very much functioned as a cog in the engine of an informal Protestant establishment that claimed that without the inculcation of Christian (i.e., Protestant) virtues, students would lack the necessary self-restraint that citizens in a self-governing republic required. After seminar discussions of the secondary sources that survey the social, intellectual, and institutional reasons that prompted universities and eventually colleges to buck the Protestant establishment and its hold upon the curriculum, students focus upon Whitman College and its history, choose topics for archival research, assemble and examine primary and secondary sources, formulate historical questions and thesis statements, and eventually produce a 20 to 25 page research paper. The goal of the course is to help students, particularly majors in Religion, graduate from writing short analytical papers characteristic of Whitman’s first-year Encounters and survey courses in Religion to writing a senior thesis, required of every major in the Religion Department.