THATCamp comes to Union


By Matt Olson

From today, Sept. 26 through tomorrow, Sept. 27, Union will be the host of The Humanities and Technology Camp, or THATCamp, an “unconference” that specializes in linking the humanities and technology into one informal gathering. THATCamp’s website describes an unconference as “a highly informal conference … at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee.”

The event is sponsored by the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium, which consists of Union, Colgate University, Hamilton College, St. Lawrence University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Skidmore College.

THATCamp started in 1998 at George Mason University and was sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. There are a few general “guidelines” for THATCamp. First, the sessions are all collaborative; “there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program.”

The humanities and technology come together as a juxtaposition of different disciplines. The humanities comprise the study of language, linguistics, literature, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, ethics and other disciplines, according to the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act.

The conference is free for all undergraduates, Union staff and the first 50 Union faculty registrants.

Notable events hosted by Union faculty and staff include the “Music and Electrical Engineering Bootcamp” by Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Palma Catravas, Lecturer in Choral and Orchestral Music John Cox, and Professor of Music Dianne McMullen.

The program will show how “music and Electrical Engineering provides an interdisciplinary experience for students.”

THATCamp hopes to hold a conference that is both “non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary.” Individuals from all different educational backgrounds are encouraged to participate in the many seminars and activities that the Camp has to offer.

Traditionally, THATCamp receives anywhere from 25-150 registrants, with an average of 75 per conference. The college’s campus community is encouraged to become involved in all the Camp’s events.

There will also be an exhibit on “Humanities and Engineering” in Schaffer Library that will be curated by the library’s Head of Technical Services Annette LeClair. THATCamp has held over 100 unconferences in its history.

The event will end Friday night with a drink reception in the Nott Memorial.­­



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