The University of Michigan is a center for innovation in key digital technologies that are or will become part of our daily lives. The Digital Studies Institute was established in 2019 to serve as LSA’s home for scholarship on digital technologies and culture, and to address the ethical, cultural, social, and aesthetic implications to these rapidly developing technologies from a liberal arts perspective. From its 2014 beginning as a pilot program within the Department of American Culture, the Digital Studies Institute (DSI) has grown into the largest, most comprehensive initiative for digital scholarship in higher education and is well-positioned to be the nation’s leader in the study of digital culture.
DSI’s impact area in research and public dialogue focuses on technology and social justice. The DSI addresses the impact of transformations in personal identity, instances of marginalization and unequal access, and the proliferating ethical challenges of digital spaces. Questions concerning the impacts of technology on race, disability, gender, sexuality, class, power, and identity are foregrounded in courses for undergraduates and graduate students, in an annual summer institute, and in a diverse range of public programs.
The DSI supports an undergraduate minor and a graduate concentration with offerings that address cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies, the blockchain, Wikistorming, podcasting, fake news, Instagram rhetoric, as well as creative and critical practices in digital culture, accessible design, and social media activism. Students have the opportunity to experience virtual reality authoring by both making and critiquing digital content, and learn to design digital and physical gaming components, as well as to explore the social and economic impact of their favorite genres. Courses prepare students to be informed users of technology and astute and pragmatic critics of our digital present and future.