I’d like to propose a discussion session on the whole issue of collaboration across institutions. William Pannapacker recently wrote in the Chronicle about the potential value of creating partnerships between research institutions and teaching colleges. He mentions one good example as his starting point. There are other kinds of examples such as the collaboration between Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore. What are the best examples out there and why have they worked? What are the impediments to creating cross institutional projects and alliances and how are they best negotiated? Can such collaborations grow organically, from the ground up so to speak, through small scale collaborations between individual researchers, or do they require institutional level initiatives on a much larger scale? If there are collaborations between small colleges and large universities, how can we make sure that the institutional cultures, visions, and priorities of the smaller players are equal partners in the project? How are cross-institutional projects of any sort best sustained over time so that they don’t die off once individual faculty members go in different directions.
I am in the process of working on a collaborative venture with Harrisburg University and my own institution, Messiah College. We are hoping to bring together a number of different institutions in the Central PA region–the strong liberal arts colleges in the regions, state cultural institutions, possibly Penn State regional campuses–on larger scale Digital Humanities work than we can accomplish working in isolation. I’m hoping there will be others interested in discussing what has worked or might work or wouldn’t work during the course of such a venture.