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The American Council of Learned Societies, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has appointed a National Commission of Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. It is currently engaged in research and development in order to establish perspective and a better focus for the project. The Commission plans to report on its findings in early 2005 and will use a listserv in order to communicate with its audience of scholarly communities and their societies, university provosts, federal funding agencies, and private foundations.

The Commission, chaired by John Unsworth, dean of the Graduate School of Library Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is charged to:

XXXX-Describe and analyze the current state of humanities and social science cyberinfrastructure
-Articulate the requirements and the potential contributions of the humanities and the social sciences in developing a cyberinfrastructure for information, teaching, and research
-Recommend areas of emphasis and coordination for the various agencies and institutions, public and private, that contribute to the development of this cyberinfrastructure.

As scholars in the humanities and social sciences use digital tools and technologies with increasing sophistication and innovation, they are transforming their practices of collaboration and communication. New forms of scholarship, criticism, and creativity proliferate in arts and letters and in the social sciences, resulting in significant new works accessible and meaningful only in digital form. Many technology-driven projects in these areas have become enormously complex and at the same time indispensable for teaching and research.

For their part, scientists and engineers no longer see digital technologies merely as tools enhancing established research methodologies, but as a force creating environments that enable the creation of new knowledge. The needs of humanists and scientists converge in this emerging cyberinfrastructure. As the importance of technology-enabled innovation grows across all fields, scholars are increasingly dependent on sophisticated systems for the creation, curation, and preservation of information. They are also dependent on an economic, legal, and policy environment that encourages appropriate and unimpeded access to both digital information and digital tools.

It is crucial for the humanities and the social sciences to join scientists and engineers in defining and building this infrastructure so that it meets the needs and incorporates the contributions of humanists and social scientists. With the establishment of its Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the ACLS is helping to promote and provide a system of access to technology and new sources of data for scholars across all disciplines.

For more information, please visit Also on the web site are instructions for subscribing to the listserv if you wish to remain up-to-date on the developments.


Citation: , " ACLS goes Hi-Tech," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited May 2004]. Online:


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