This year I was lucky to be able to attend the European Summer University in Digital Humanities (ESU) at Leipzig University in Germany. This was the 9th time this event takes place. During two weeks around 60 participants and almost 30 instructors and speakers from all over the world get together. Participants get to attend one out of many possible workshops (40 hours each in total), lectures, poster presentations and, of course, many dinners and excursions.
I have been to similar summer schools before, but none has had the same effect as this one. The organisation was simply unbelievable. But the most important aspect, I think, is that you don’t neccesarily come here one time, you can apply every year if you want to and take a different class. This creates much more than a learning opportunity: it creates a community. People who were there for the second or third time already knew each other and felt safe to share ideas and experiences. The regular social activities and flawless planning contribute to boosting this community creation.
Being in the field of Digital Humanities for some years I’ve come to appreciate how important networks are for the creation of knowledge. I sometimes have the impression that in Medieval Studies people don’t neccesarily realise this. Many usually create networks almost exclusively with dead people though their writting; and they are really missing out. When you are surrounded by smart and open people who feel part of a community, ideas have a different development as when you sit alone with your books in front of the computer.
It is great that something like the ESU exists.