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Digital Pedagogy and Public Engagement

Tue, December 18, 8:30 to 10:00am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Harborview 2 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


With rapid developments in public humanities, digital humanities, and changing delivery systems for education, scholars are increasing their efforts to communicate their work's importance to a broad public. Jewish Studies faces distinct opportunities and challenges in translating scholarly work for multiple audiences, particularly as the interest and financial commitment of the Jewish public continues to shape the field.

This roundtable will spark conversation about how Jewish Studies engages multiple publics—with students, Jewish communities and organizations, and the wider world—and the role of scholars in shaping public conversations. Exploring pedagogy in a broadly defined sense, we will address how we combine teaching with public engagement: how and why teaching reaches outside the classroom and what tools (digital and otherwise) we use to present Jewish Studies as a topic of vital public need. We will grapple with how those outside the university learn about Jewish history and culture, the pressures and faultlines in the creation of public knowledge, who funds and benefits from these approaches, and how these methods invite diverse student populations.

Discussants will reflect on new techniques and technologies in teaching and research. Rachel Deblinger (UC Santa Cruz) will discuss teaching a Holocaust and Digital Humanities course and how digital tools invite diverse students into the classroom. Lori Lefkovitz (Northeastern) will explore the place of Jewish Studies in an experiential liberal arts curriculum. Matthew Williams will offer insight into the relationship between Jewish Studies and educational institutions and practitioners in the context of his new center for applied research. Sara Wolkenfeld (Sefaria) will reflect on the role of digital tools in expanding the audience for Jewish texts and scholarship. Jason Lustig (Harvard Center for Jewish Studies) will discuss his experience with project-based pedagogy aimed at generating publicly-facing knowledge where students edit Wikipedia articles and record podcast episodes as part of the “Jewish History Matters” initiative. This conversation will range from topics of service learning projects to Wikipedia to Digital Humanities methods for teaching about the Jewish past and present, allowing for a wide discussion of the meaning of teaching and engagement in the twenty-first century.

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