Isaac Pante named dhCenter’s UNIL Academic Director

Isaac Pante will serve as University of Lausanne (UNIL) Academic Director of the dhCenter starting in January, 2021.

Currently a senior lecturer in UNIL’s Department of Language and Information Sciences (SLI), and Scientific Advisor on Digital Transition for the UNIL Rectorate, Pante will also become the SLI’s new department head in January.

Pante takes over the center’s UNIL Academic Director position from fellow dhCenter member and SLI professor Michael Piotrowski. Together with EPFL Academic Director Karl Aberer, Piotrowski has guided the initial development of the dhCenter since its founding in 2018.

“It’s important to realize that the digital humanities are neither primarily about computer scientists applying their tools to the humanities and social sciences, nor about humanities scholars and social scientists observing the development of technology or giving engineers ethical advice,” Piotrowski says. Rather, he emphasizes that the field of digital humanities is “emerging through the encounter of computer scientists, humanities scholars, and social scientists interested in a common methodology to tackle old and new research challenges. And this is exactly what the dhCenter is about.”

Hybridization and decompartmentalization

Going forward, Pante and Aberer will work closely together to continue developing the dhCenter as an inclusive and stimulating environment for interdisciplinary collaboration in the fields of digital humanities and social sciences.

“The engineering sciences and the social sciences and humanities are still too often considered to be opposing at worst, and complementary at best. The academic world must take care to initiate and promote the full hybridization of methods and cultures from these different fields of knowledge,” Pante says.

“This implies that the social sciences and humanities should benefit from the methods and models of thought that have led to technical innovation. It also implies enriching and deepening informatics by shedding light on its historical, philosophical, and societal heritage. Above all, it means meeting and understanding each other, by merging the methods that underpin our identities as researchers. With the creation of the dhCenter, UNIL and EPFL have made their ambitions for institutional synergies tangible, and I am delighted to take part in this decompartmentalization as UNIL Academic Director.”

Piotrowski adds: “It was exciting to develop a vision for the dhCenter together with Karl and the staff, and I’m happy to hand over now to Isaac, who very much shares our vision.”

The dhCenter warmly welcomes Isaac Pante, and equally warmly thanks Michael Piotrowski for his commitment to scholarship and leadership in the social sciences and digital humanities.