The Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship

Frequently Asked Questions 


What is the Freedman Center?

The Freedman Center is a partnership between the College of Arts and Sciences and the Kelvin Smith Library. Established in 2005, with over 2,700 square feet of highly functional workspace and state-of-the-art equipment, the Freedman Center harnesses the power of modern technology and combines it with the driver of academic creativity.

The Freedman Center consists primarily of three service areas, but also offers special programs:

  • Digital Library Services
  • Multimedia Services
  • Special Programs

For the College of Arts and Sciences the Freedman Center is evidence of the College's commitment to the evolution of education and the integration of information technologies in its curriculum and research practices. For the Kelvin Smith Library, the Freedman Center is the culmination of a ten-year vision for a center that provides faculty, students, and staff with the ability to utilize both analog and hardcopy information sources in digital works, presentations, and research.

Helpful staff is on hand to guide you through your project and teach you how to use the latest technology whether you are creating a PowerPoint presentation or full media CD-ROMs and interactive DVDs. You will not only walk away with a completed project, but with the skills to do it again.

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What is the Freedman Fellows Program?

The Freedman Fellows Program exists to assist faculty with imagining, planning and developing digital scholarship projects.  In 2007 the Freedman family provided the Freedman Center and Case Western Reserve University and endowed fund of $250,000 to support future Freedman Fellows Programs.  Included with this gift was support specifically for a combined effort with the Baker Nord Center for the Humanities to explore how the Freedman Fellows Program can also encourage the use of new technologies in the research that the faculty does on campus—specifically, providing immersive instruction in the tools that would benefit their scholarly pursuits.

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When is the Freedman Fellows Program?

The call for proposals is in February. Proposals due in March.  Awards are announced in April.  The program continues through the year with several events to be scheduled throughout the year.  Details will be posted on this site.

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Who can apply?

Full time faculty at Case Western Reserve University.  If a research group is interested, A faculty member who is leading the group may apply. Former Freedman Fellows can apply, though special consideration is given to first-time applicants to engage as many new faculty as possible.

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Can I meet with someone to discuss this?

Yes. If you have questions or concerns, please email Charlie Harper or Jennifer Green. It is strongly encouraged that all applicants schedule a meeting to discuss potential proposals.

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What is the Freedman Fellows award amount?

The funding model is flexible, providing a pool of funds that can be used to support projects of varying size.  Proposed funding requests can range from $1K to a maximum of $15K.

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How many Fellows will there be?

This depends on the number of applicants, the quality of their proposals, and the amount of the funds requested.

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What is Digital Scholarship?

To quote Christine L. Borgman, "Scholars in all fields are taking advantage of the wealth of online information, tools, and services to ask new questions, create new kinds of scholarly products, and reach new audiences." (from Scholarship in the Digital Age: AZ 195 .B67 2007). Or, perhaps, from a Digital Humanities perspective: "Digital humanities is not a unified field but an array of convergent practices that explore a universe in which print is no longer the exclusive or the normative medium in which knowledge is produced and/or disseminated." (Digital Humanities Manifesto)

For instance, a scholar who is interested in the works of Gertrude Stein might use several software applications to analyse Stein texts for word choice, word recurrence, patterns of sentence structures, patterns of phrases, patterns of word relationships, and so on. This sort of analysis has the potential for providing important insights into the meaning of Stein texts, as well as excavating artistic approaches to the creation of the texts that might change understanding of certain texts. This exact process was used by Tanya Clement at the University of Maryland in her work with Stein's novel, "The Making of Americans," a work largely dismissed as a failed experiment. This example, however, is only one of many possible examples. Astronomers model the movement of objects in space, dental faculty model the physiology and three-dimensionality of the human face, engineering faculty model the flow of wind and water, geology faculty model planetary geodynamics, epidemiologists look at the occurrence of lead-base paint on houses across geographic areas, and religion faculty model the interior of temples and the process of religious iconography and systems.

In short, digital scholarship is the practice of pursuing scholarly activities whose outcome is transformed by the very nature of the method by which it is carried out (using digital tools); or scholarly activities that utilize digital tools or technologies to change the methods by which a corpus of data can be engaged by other researchers or a general audience. Digital scholarship also includes the use of tools and environments that support digital scholarly activities, supporting and advocating for research uses or experimental development of tools and projects, and support the digital dissemination of outputs.

A suggestion is to also review previous Fellows work.

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What do you mean by corpus of data?

A grouping of data on which you propose to perform your scholarly research or teaching activities. This ideally will be an intellectual grouping or arrangement of materials by some criteria relevant to the project you intend to carry out. A corpus of data can include actual data sets (spss, survey results, gps and arc gis files), digital texts, digital images, databases, and more.

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What do you mean by copyright concerns?

Project proposals must directly address copyright concerns and articulate a plan to identify and secure the appropriate right to use the materials in your corpus of data in the ways necessary to fulfill the proposed project outcomes.  More information on Copyright can be found at

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How may the award be spent?

Awards are made to support the expenses arising from innovative scholarly or creative projects that meet the Freedman Fellows criteria. The required budget should illustrate: the extent of planning you have dedicated to your proposed project and the level of thought that has the project has been given; a justification of how you will use funds to carry out the the project and reach its goals.  Funds may not be used for purchasing a teaching release.   Any equipment purchases will be purchased by KSL and will remain Freedman Center property at the conclusion of the fellowship.

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How do I set up an account for my award?

If the award recipient does not have an account to receive funds, or wishes to create a specific account into which funds can be placed, the recipient will need to speak to a Departmental Assistant or Departmental Accountant for instructions on how to create an account. An award letter will be provided for this purpose. If the recipient would like the monies to be available for more than one fiscal year, he/she should notify the person responsible for creating the account in his/her department to ensure that the created account does not expire within one fiscal year. The recipient may need to fill out a University Review Form.

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What level of support can I expect?

Specific details will be set up per project, but generally Faculty can expect support by KSL staff to advise and help coordinate the technology aspects of the project.

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  • Freedman Fellows 2011 Announced
  • Freedman Fellows Program 2011
  • Freedman Center Fellow Program 2010
  • Freedman Fellows 2009 Announced

Kelvin Smith Library | 11055 Euclid Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44106-7151 | 216-368-3506