What Is a HASTAC Scholar? Please Join Me in Welcoming Our Next Cohort!

What Is a HASTAC Scholar? Please Join Me in Welcoming Our Next Cohort!

Welcome new HASTAC Scholars! It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory—-“Haystack,” we say. 

HASTAC is an alliance, a network, a community, and not a formal organization in a traditional sense.  HASTAC is shaped by the contributions of its network members.  As HASTAC Scholars, you are welcome to play as small or large a role as you wish.  We hope you will make it an incredibly fruitful two years, and end with a fine online portfolio of your own contributions as well as many rich network “alliances.”

What about “collaboratory”?  What does that mean? The word “collaboratory” was coined by computer scientist William Wulf in 1989 as a “center without walls, in which the nation’s researchers can perform their research without regard to physical location, interacting with colleagues, accessing instrumentation, sharing data and computational resources, [and] accessing information in digital libraries.”  The National Science Foundation (NSF)  began to fund “collaboratories” early on.  When they heard that an interdisciplinary group of us were meeting together, they offered us funding and NSF headquarters to host our first meeting.  It was at that meeting that we came up with a name that carefully does not define any one discipline or project but, instead, stakes out that we are an “alliance’ (a network, a community) across many different institutions.  A collaboratory. 

How can you contribute?  First, HASTAC is the world’s first and oldest social network, begun in 2002 (before Facebook or even before MySpace) and it thrives due to the contributions of its members and the respect of community members for one another and HASTAC’s mission.

You HASTAC Scholars have a special place in the network.  We hope you will post your ideas, your projects, what you do in your classes (as students or instructors), what programs (public or private) your institution or program are putting on.  We hope you will both take advantage of and let others in the network know about opportunities such as job openings, conferences, panels, special journal issues, research initiatives, grants.  It’s a great way to find partners and write proposals together. Let us know about your professional goals, the ways you are remixing your own learning and thinking ahead to various possible futures. 

One of our mottos:  “Difference is not our deficit. Difference is our operating system.”   This is not the same as “diversity” where “uniformity” is tacitly defined as whiteness or masculinity.  It says that, if all the same kinds of people–with shared experiences, backgrounds, cultural identities, and disciplines–are working together on the problem, the solutions will be lacking.  Period. Lacking“Difference is our operating system” because, without difference, systems malfunction. 

And one of our chief methods: collaboration by difference. Seeking out people with different backgrounds, cultures, languages, disciplines, races, genders, ideas, methods–all that is what makes our work stronger and better, both more innovative and more concerned with issues of social justice and the equitable, creative use of technology for a better society.  Working together across differences is, we believe, what makes HASTAC strong and unique and enduring. 

We’ve been deemed the “world’s first and oldest academic social network” and we’re growing strong when many other efforts fail.  We have nearly 16,000 network members now. We welcome you to this community.

Imagine big!  Imagine bold!  We welcome your contribution.  And we are excited to see how you will shape your experiences as HASTAC Scholars together.


Here are some basic facts about this exciting new and continuing cohort:

  • New Scholars this year: 129
  • Continuing Scholars: 129
  • Total Scholars this year: 258
  • Percentage undergraduates/graduate students among incoming Scholars: 11% undergraduates, 22% MA, 63% PhD


What is a HASTAC Scholar?


On the most fundamental level, to be a HASTAC Scholar means that someone in a position of some authority and responsibility at an institution of higher education has entrusted you to represent your institution in a public forum.

HASTAC, to date, has not had to charge dues to individuals or institutions.  Instead of collecting dues from institutional members, we count as members any institution that supports at least one student (graduate or undergraduate) as a HASTAC Scholar.  We consider institutional “dues” to be roughly $300 and we want institutions to use a network model, dedicating those funds to supporting a student who then contributes to the HASTAC network on behalf of that institution, including intellectual, scholarly, technical, creative, or other work that student might design there.

Being a HASTAC Scholar is a big responsibility—and an honor.  HASTAC Scholars always list this honor on their CV and we hear over and over that, at job interviews, people want to talk to HASTAC Scholars about their experiences as part of a network of graduate and undergraduate leaders.  

What you get out of your experience as a HASTAC Scholar will be commensurate with what you contribute. 

HASTAC Scholars Are Communicators

It is significant to be, as we say, the “eyes and ears” of your institution—to report on what various students and faculty members are publishing (their books and articles), where they are giving conference papers or invited lectures (so you can help arrange informal HASTAC meet ups), what conferences or workshops your institution is sponsoring, what courses are being taught, what innovations are being used in classrooms at your school, what new online tools, methods, theories, ideas, practices, and pedagogies you, your professors, and your fellow students are exploring.

HASTAC Scholars Projects 2016-2017:

  • Very well attended Twine webinar – nonlinear tool for storytelling, teaching, and pedagogical projects- video available on YouTube channel
  • Interview project that started in 2015- profiles of Steering Committee members done by HASTAC Scholars- https://www.hastac.org/collections/hastac-interviews ]
  • Twitter chat on Misinformation and fake news
  • Collaborative book review on Structuring Equality

HASTAC Scholars (Proposed, Possible, Imagined) Projects 2017-2018:

  • Additional Steering Committee member interviews
  • Public Humanities twitter chat (11/09) 
  • Digital Archives webinar /potentially series/
  • A collaborative book review project of Tara McPherson’s Feminist in a Software Lab
  • Many upcoming tool webinars on Github, TEI Publisher, Podcast-making software, and Max (Cycling ’74)
  • Watch, live tweet, contribute to our live-streamed series, The University Worth Fighting For
  • What else?  What do you imagine? What will you contribute?


Make the HASTAC Website Your Own

There is so much you can do on the HASTAC website.  You can start your own group, for example, and invite in just a few people, or a whole class—or the world. 

We invite you to become a leader.  How?  By contributing.  Every year, we hear a new voice, someone who understands how to write in public and who begins to gain an audience, who starts a project, a movement.  Go for it!

If you are teaching, here’s a perfect opportunity to teach your students how to write responsibly in public.  Here’s an example of a course for which we created a public-facing, user-friendly version through the “Group” function on the HASTAC website: https://www.hastac.org/groups/race-and-gender-theory-undergraduate-humanities-classroom

Comments are not moderated—but you can only leave a comment if you are a HASTAC network member.  It’s free.  We are scrupulous about how we use your data.  And we expect everyone to treat one another with respect—even when we disagree vehemently.

Collaboration by Difference

One method we champion at HASTAC is “collaboration by difference.”  We believe that by working with people from other disciplines and across all the various cultural and technological and national, racial, gender, sexual, religious, ability, and other divides, that we are stronger, better.  “Difference is not our deficit; it’s our operating system” is one of our many mottos.  Anyone is free to write about anything or advertise any event on the HASTAC site as long as it is “HASTACy”:  you can browse around and figure out what that means–and you will help to define it this year.


HASTAC Scholars Director, Kalle Westerling

HASTAC Scholars is directed by a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center, CUNY,  Kalle Westerling,  Kalle is a doctoral student in the Theater Department at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.  His fellowship means he works part-time Directing the HASTAC scholars and then full-time writing his dissertations.  (Yes, that means he works 1.5 jobs at a time!)  He is there to help–but please make sure to use his time wisely and respectfully.  He has to finish his dissertation too!

Legacies:  Past, Present, and Future

We want your time as a HASTAC Scholar to be as creative, powerful, inspiring, meaningful, and purposive as you can make it.  We hope you will contribute to the legacy of the hundreds of HASTAC Scholars who have gone before you.  We hope you have a wonderful year as part of the network that you will help to shape.

WELCOME!  Let’s think about how we can create a better future together!

6 responses to “What Is a HASTAC Scholar? Please Join Me in Welcoming Our Next Cohort!”

  1. We so hope you will use this network to find people doing work similar to your own, to share ideas, to find partners in reserach, to post opportunities and use the HASTAC site to learn about other ones.  Welcome!