Community-Based Learning and the Potential of Digital Humanities

Duke Farm

Through faculty-led digital projects, Learning Innovation engages Duke PhD students in fellowship programs to advance their professional development in digital teaching and learning design. Giulia Ricco, a Learning Innovation Bass Fellow (Online Apprentice) explored the potential of digital humanities in a Bass Connections project under the guidance of Dr. Robin Kirk, co-director of the Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. Ricco shared her insights on the project and how it has shaped her vision for innovative teaching.

The online apprenticeship with Learning Innovation showed me how incorporating digital scholarship as part of our course requirements can help students understand the value of humanistic research.

Ricco’s project provided an opportunity to work with undergraduate students to document the relationship between gardening, human rights, and displacement in Durham, NC, using digital pedagogies (GIS mapping, visualization, interactive video, and co-creating digital archives content). The project includes a publicly accessible website that features students’ research on two historic garden clubs and one community garden in Durham.

Group photo at the Duke Gardens

The content of these webpages is all original. Students conducted the majority of oral interviews and collected archival information that was not part of a collection, but dispersed around various county libraries and personal residencies.

A collaborative Instagram account shows how students engaged with the class themes while developing their research projects.

By using digital platforms such as social media, students are actively building channels of communication with the people affected by the issues that are studied in the classroom. In my future career I will incorporate digital assignments in my syllabi to teach students about the role of humanities in the non-academic world.


Beginning Fall 2019, Learning Innovation will work with a new cohort of PhD Fellows. Learn more about the Bass Digital Education Fellowship for PhD Students.

Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Author: Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Sophia collaborates with faculty to provide pedagogical and academic technology consulting, training, and project management, for campus-based and online initiatives. She consults on innovative teaching practices across academic disciplines, and works with faculty on course planning, course design and development, and assessment strategies. Her research interests include global online education, instructional design, faculty development, distance education, and international learners.