Towards an inclusive & active
South African community of practice
in Digital Humanities &
Computational Social Science




Image - Learners at University of Limpopo participating in a Data Carpentry workshop learning about good data practices and data analysis in R

What is ESCALATOR?

Humanities and Social Sciences research and education are in dire need of strong coordinated interventions to enable the pervasive adoption of digital research methodologies and practices. Over the past few years several capacity development initiatives were implemented within various institutions and communities, but South Africa still lacks a national, integrated active community of practice in this space.

In order to bring large scale adoption of digital research methodologies and practices to the Social Sciences and Humanities the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) established the ESCALATOR project. SADiLaR is a national centre supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR). ESCALATOR will consist of a national digital champions program in combination with an orchestrated capacity development and awareness raising initiative.

Ad hoc activities have the tendency to create excitement and interest, but leaves participants neglected, disempowered, and disappointed as they often lack the social / research networks and skill to make use of opportunities and resources that were taught or discussed. With every new intervention, it seems as if community have to be built from scratch if an ad hoc capacity development approach is followed.

The proposed program will ensure the sustainability of the community by contributing to the development of leaders at the public universities and research centres. Through the interventions, both champions and other community members will build skills and confidence in using digital tools and methodologies in their own research and teaching. The program will align closely with other institutional, regional, national and international digital capacity and community development as well as infrastructure initiatives.