Digital humanities master's program organizes the first DH Alumni Day
In November 2023, the College of Humanities master’s in digital humanities organized the first DH Alumni Day. The event brought over 15 DH alumni back to campus to present to current and prospective students and one another what they are doing now and how their masters in Digital Humanities have helped them on their career and academic paths.
Since the master’s in Digital Humanities began in 2017, 34 students have received this unique interdisciplinary degree and gone on to do a variety of things. The DH Alumni Day invited back all the alumni of the DH Master’s program to discuss what it means to study for a master’s in Digital Humanities at EPFL and what kinds of careers are available with this degree.
There were presentations from PhD alumnus Fabian Moss, assistant professor for Digital Music Philology and Music Theory at Julius-Maximilians University Würzburg; and from Master’s alumnus Ludovica Schaerf, who is getting her PhD at the University of Zurich in Digital Visual Studies; Rémi Petitpierre, who is at EPFL for his PhD in Digital Humanities working on the Lausanne Time Machine; Paola Yela Bello, an information management and data science officer at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and Robin Szymczak, who works as a data scientist at Peerdom, a startup in Bern.
Some of the other alumni present at the event included Hakim Invernizzi, a data scientist at Digitec Galaxus AG; Giacomo Alliata a PhD student at the Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+) at EPFL; Marion Kramer, a digital analyst at RTS; Anton Sherstiuk, an integration developer at CHUV; and Yuanhui lin, a web developer at the startup Quanthome SA.
These alumni gave advice for current and future DH students, not just about the academic rigor of the program itself, but also about ways for students to nurture their creativity in and out of the classroom.
“Play, get rest, go on vacation, sleep, and find your passions and follow them, even when you’re supposed to be writing or doing something else,” said Moss, whose presentation has the clickbait-y title of: 10 secret rules for a degree in DH – you won’t believe number 7!
The alumni also discussed what led them to choose the program in the first place. For Yela Bello, who had done a bachelor’s in management engineering in Colombia and wanted to use her skills for humanitarian work, her reaction when she discovered the existence of the DH master’s at EPFL was “this is it!”
After the presentations, Kathleen Collins, the Section Deputy for the DH Master’s and organizer of the event, moderated a lively discussion where alumni shared experiences about working in different parts of Switzerland and Europe and how to move into a PhD after getting a master’s in DH. There was also conversation about whether the program needed more humanities courses, and agreement about the benefit of taking classes with UNIL students and appreciating their different perspectives.
For the current master’s students, it was no doubt an interesting experience to see the many future paths available for graduates of the EPFL DH Master’s program.
As Schaerf said in her presentation: “If you think DH doesn’t exactly fit you, you might go a little bit up, a little bit sideways and you will always find something that is super interesting.”