Interview with producer of Digital Humanities Day

February 9, 2021

Interview with producer of Digital Humanities Day

What can you do with a humanities or social sciences degree? What does it mean to study the liberal arts in the current moment?”

These questions come up often in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, so we were excited to see the Digital Humanities Day announcement for February 20, from 11am-1pm PT.  The online event (supported by the Husky Seed Fund and Mary Gates Endowment) will feature keynote speeches and panel discussions with “30 successful professionals who studied humanities/social sciences subjects at UW, and are now working in a range of careers.”

Photo of Yogasai Gazula, smiling in a red shirt, blurry background
Digital Humanities Day producer, Yogasai Gazula, 2021

We caught up with Yogasai Gazula, the international studies major and Mary Gates Research scholar who is producing Digital Humanities Day, to learn more about why YOU should attend.

Honors: What made you decide to build this event? 

Yogasai: Getting involved in undergraduate research with Professor Walter G. Andrews during my first year at UW made me realize the potential of the liberal arts for offering new possibilities to create meaningful societal change. 

Professor Andrews, who supported me in pursuing this project, wrote in his essay, “Killing the Cats,” that if it is not considered strange that scientists do not believe that they can work in “physics without mathematics, or chemistry without physics,” etc. then, why is it strange to suggest that humanities scholars could take microbiology or computer science into account, or that scientists could be aware of or contribute to humanistic concerns? This highlights the importance and urgency of an interdisciplinary education that centers the humanities.

For me, figuring out how to integrate my passions and interests with a future career in order to create a positive impact was the result of conversations with many people, who introduced me to different ideas and issues that I further explored on my own. I envision Digital Humanities Day as an opportunity for students to see how they can combine their interests to create a meaningful path for themselves. 

However, since the liberal arts are not vocational, it can be difficult to articulate how one’s major translates into a career. Therefore, the point of this event is to inspire students to think about the possibilities they never knew existed for applying their humanities training.

Honors: How did you identify your panelists?

Yogasai: I reached out to alumni and current students  whose work exemplifies the role of the humanities in addressing different problems, for example, the application of linguistics in the biology domain, the intersection of communication and art, international studies and cybersecurity, languages and digital history, filmmaking and disability rights, and much more. Therefore, this will hopefully give students an idea of how they can begin to explore their own interests to address current issues. 

Aleenah Ansari and Julia Tesch are each smiling, surrounded by profile text you can find on the Digital Humanities Day website
Screenshot of panelist profiles for two UW Honors alumni doing great, very different things.

Honors: What would you say to students who are worried they can’t succeed without a degree in a STEM major?

Yogasai: The power of the liberal arts is that the possibilities are endless! While that is very exciting, it can also be daunting since students might not know where to start. Exploring the different areas that sound interesting and talking to people who are doing that work is the first step to learning more about yourself and what inspires you! All of the panelists for Digital Humanities Day are excited to share their advice and experiences regarding how they navigated the same journey. So, Digital Humanities Day can be that first step for students! 🙂 

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FUN FACT: Approximately 3 out of 100 Seattle-campus Huskies graduate with Honors each year, and 1/3 of the Digital Humanities Day Panel are UW Honors alumni.