Advocacy Work at ACH

Last year, the ACH Executive Council expanded the mandate of our committee on Outreach to include advocacy work on issues that matter to our members.

Fortune: Your career is moving more and more towards service to others.First, we were pleased to contribute funding to the 4Humanities initiative, which aims leverage the energy and expertise of the global DH community in demonstrating the value of humanities and cultural heritage work in the digital age.

Next, an open call through DH Answers, Twitter, and the Humanist list yielded a great deal of community input on two subjects: the value of open access content and open source software — particularly in the case of projects funded by public agencies — and the importance of careful planning for sustainability of digital work.

Based on community feedback, ACH crafted two powerful letters, to the National Endowment for the Humanities and (in collaboration with SDH-SEMI) to SSHRC. These agencies are the two major public funders of digital humanities work in the US and Canada. Our letters advocated the requirement of data management plans similar to those recently instituted by the NSF and NIH. We received a positive response from NEH Chairman Jim Leach, who described requirements subsequently announced as part of NEH's new Digital Humanities Implementation Grants — and shared the news that similar data management plans will become a part of ODH's Start-Up grants and other programs.

Among future areas of attention for the Outreach and Advocacy committee of ACH are matters of open access, and of proper attribution of credit for effort by our members in collaborative projects and on standards bodies.

Our involvement, along with other representatives of ADHO organizations, in the information-gathering phase of the FairCite initiative speaks to this latter concern. To address the former, this winter we issued a public response to a set of US White House RFIs, having to do with public access to federally-funded data and research outputs. ACH strongly advocated open access to federally-funded research and research publications, and the requested the inclusion of representatives from humanities agencies in crucial conversations about research for the public good. Our work in this area will continue.

Most recently, ACH participated in a widespread, ultimately successful, protest of proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation that would have gravely endangered free, open, and innovative online communication in the digital and public humanities.

We wish to serve as strong advocates for causes that matter to ACH members and to the broad digital humanities community. Stay tuned for further opportunities to provide your input: transparent, public agenda-setting for ACH is a major priority of our newly-elected leadership. In the meantime, please contact any of our Officers or Executive Council members with your ideas.

By Bethany Nowviskie

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