Scholarly Societies in the Humanities: New Models and Innovation

Tuesday 05 March, 2013
12 - 2pm, $0

Columbia University, Faculty House
400 West 117 Street, Presidential Rooms 2 and 3

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In an era of networked communication, how can scholarly societies in the humanities remain vital and relevant to their members? Which service models can sustain societies when inexpensive communication tools are easily accessible to individual scholars? Join us for Scholarly Societies in the Humanities: New Models and Innovation for a panel discussion of these questions. This event will take place on Tuesday, March 5, at noon in Columbias Faculty HouseIt is free and open to the public.

Scholarly societies have long been central to the scholarly communication system in the humanities. Membership in a scholarly society has provided crucial networking opportunities for scholars. Societies publish prestigious journals, often using revenue from journal subscriptions to underwrite other activities. Yet the sustainability of these services is now under enormous pressure due to factors including the proliferation of social media, changes in scholarly publishing models, and reduced funding opportunities. In response, scholarly societies in the humanities are experimenting with new service models to reinvent themselves as 21st-century institutions.

The panelists have all been deeply involved in discussions about the future of learned societies:

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association. She is the author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, which was released in draft form for open peer review in Fall 2009 before being published in more traditional formats in 2011. She is also co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons and oversaw the launch ofMLA Commons in January 2013.

Robert Townsend is Deputy Director at the American Historical Association. He has served as the director of publications for the past 15 years. In addition to his work in the publishing area, he is the author or co-author of over 200 articles on various aspects of history, higher education, and electronic publishing and just published History's Babel: Scholarship and Professionalization in the Historical Enterprise.

Dianne Harris is Director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and Professor of Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Art History, and History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her most recent book is Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America. She is a past-president for the Society of Architectural Historians, for whom she also served as Editor-In-Chief for SAHARA, a major Mellon Foundation-funded digital humanities initiative.

This event is the third event this academic year in the speaker series Research Without Borders: The Changing World of Scholarly Communication. It is co-sponsored by the Scholarly Communication Programand the Digital Humanities Center at Columbia University. Follow the discussion live on Twitter at or by using the hashtag #rwob. To watch a live webcast of the event, and for more information about Research Without Borders, visit the Scholarly Communication Program website at

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