Panel to Explore New Models For Scholarly Societies in the Humanities
NEW YORK, February 15, 2013 –

In an era of networked communication, how can scholarly societies in the humanities remain vital and relevant to their members? Which service models can sustain societies when inexpensive communication tools are easily accessible to individual scholars? Join us for “Scholarly Societies in the Humanities: New Models and Innovation” for a panel discussion of these questions. This event will take place on Tuesday, March 5, at noon in Columbia’s Faculty House. It is free and open to the public.

Scholarly societies have long been central to the scholarly communication system in the humanities. Membership in a scholarly society has provided crucial networking opportunities for scholars. Societies publish prestigious journals, often using revenue from journal subscriptions to underwrite other activities. Yet the sustainability of these services is now under enormous pressure due to factors including the proliferation of social media, changes in scholarly publishing models, and reduced funding opportunities. In response, scholarly societies in the humanities are experimenting with new service models to reinvent themselves as 21st-century institutions.
The panelists have all been deeply involved in discussions about the future of learned societies:
Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association. She is the author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, which was released in draft form for open peer review in Fall 2009 before being published in more traditional formats in 2011. She is also co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons and oversaw the launch of MLA Commons in January 2013.
Robert Townsend is Deputy Director at the American Historical Association. He has served as the director of publications for the past 15 years. In addition to his work in the publishing area, he is the author or co-author of over 200 articles on various aspects of history, higher education, and electronic publishing and just published History's Babel: Scholarship and Professionalization in the Historical Enterprise.
Dianne Harris is Director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and Professor of Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Art History, and History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her most recent book is Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America. She is a past-president for the Society of Architectural Historians, for whom she also served as Editor-In-Chief for SAHARA, a major Mellon Foundation-funded digital humanities initiative.
This event is the third event this academic year in the speaker series Research Without Borders: The Changing World of Scholarly Communication. It is co-sponsored by the Scholarly Communication Program and the Digital Humanities Center at Columbia University. Follow the discussion live on Twitter at or by using the hashtag #rwob. To watch a live webcast of the event, and for more information about Research Without Borders, visit the Scholarly Communication Program website at


The Scholarly Communication Program (SCP) supports the global reach and impact of research produced at Columbia University. Its mission is to explore and raise awareness about new research tools, methods, and support services that are available to Columbia faculty, students, and staff. In pursuit of this mission, the SCP hosts events and workshops, curates news and resources on our Web site, and engages in innovative scholarly communication initiatives on campus and in the wider academic community. The SCP is an initiative of the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, which is part of Columbia University Libraries/Information Services.
The Digital Humanities Center (DHC) offers extensive information and technology services to support teaching, learning, and research in the humanities. The DHC brings together people, equipment, and information resources in an environment where users can work collaboratively, individually, or in consultation with staff.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources:

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