New Digital Humanities Club Integrates Arts and Sciences

By Abigail Cloutier

A new student organization at Youngstown State University aims to integrate technology and the arts. 

The Digital Humanities Club is advised by Rachel Faerber-Ovaska, adjunct professor of French and German, and Linda Strom, associate professor in the English department.

“I had noticed that a lot of my students were interested in and gifted at using digital tools and digital media to do creative stuff,” Faerber-Ovaska said. “Dr. Strom and I thought it would be cool to kind of help the students work together.”

The club hasn’t been meeting long, but the members are already collaborating on several ideas. 

“There’s this immense fertility of ideas,” Faerber-Ovaska said. “When you put creative, differently thinking students together, it’s like creativity on steroids. You can do so much more with a group of people than on your own.”

The club meets biweekly in DeBartolo Hall, home of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. 

The students discussed creating augmented reality projects on campus, which would “add a digital dimension and another layer of reality,” according to Faerber-Ovaska. 

The projects ranged from creating an interactive map to track the Penguin Shuttle to digitizing the Penguin Positivity boards on campus through QR codes.

Katie Keller, a junior history major and the secretary of the Digital Humanities Club, said she appreciates that the club teaches students digital applications and new approaches to learning. 

“Like most people my age, I’m pretty well versed in ‘basic’ tech usage,” Keller said. “[But] digital humanities can be applied to just about every career field. Today, we’re living in the digital age, and I say we should use that to our advantage and utilize our resources.”

Though digital humanities represent an intersection of science and humanities, Faerber-Ovaska said it’s more about students that aren’t STEM-oriented learning about how to apply digital tools and technology to their own field.

“Yes, STEM and coding play a part,” said Faerber-Ovaska. “But the idea with digital humanities is that we’re taking those tools and making them our own, so people in humanistic disciplines can use these tools for our own purposes. It’s like we’re getting an extra superpower.”

Advisor Rachel Faerber-Ovaska (left) and Vice-President Vijay Konka (right) discuss an idea at a Digital Humanities Club meeting.

Vijay Konka, a junior biology major and the vice president of the club, joined the club as a creative outlet before he attends medical school.

He wanted to use skills he gained from working with film in high school. 

Konka ultimately wants the club to improve the quality of campus life. 

“That’s why I pushed to work with the Penguin Shuttle. I feel like that’s something we can look back on and be proud of,” Konka said. “The students have a better life and better experience in college because of something we all did together.”

He said he hopes to accomplish the Penguin Shuttle project by the end of the academic year and that the collaboration with parking services will allow more students to use the shuttle service and avoid walking to some campus destinations in inclement weather. 

“It’s all about the Penguins,” Konka said.