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Scientific Hackathon on Environmental Data - Digital Humanities Explores Weather and Climate

Dürre in einem Maisfeld
Photo : AdobeStock/Scott

What potential does environmental data offer for the Digital Humanities? How can digital methods contribute to the analysis of weather and climate in the humanities and media studies? Can they be used to explore the present and history of the human-environment relationship? These are the questions of a three-day hackathon that will take place at the University of Potsdam starting on May 31. More than 60 scientists want to open meteorological and climatological data such as satellite images, maps, diagrams, but also literary and journalistic texts, video clips and visualizations for new readings, novel applications and a broader audience. Titled “Environmental Data, Media and the Humanities” - #EcoHack for short - the hackathon brings together experts from the digital humanities, design, media studies and the arts. It is organized by the Potsdam Network for Digital Humanities and the project “Weather Reports - Wind as Media, Model, and Experience” together with the Fellows Dr. Liliana Bounegru from London, Simone Fehlinger from Paris, and Dr. Jonathan Gray from London.

With guests from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Denmark, Italy, the United States, Latvia, Belgium and France, researchers in Potsdam will work in several teams on different projects. These include the visualization of weather forecasts with film material from (extreme) weather archives, video and sound installations for the medial treatment of the topic “forest,” but also the computer-based research of ecocritical literary texts. The hackathon format, which is geared towards the experimental testing and development of prototypes, will serve to jointly find new approaches and explore possibilities for future collaborations.

The hackathon is funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Henriette Herz Award, which the University of Potsdam received in 2019. “Thanks to the funding, we can now continue our series of Henriette Herz Hackathons,” says Prof. Dr. Peer Trilcke, spokesperson for the Digital Humanities Network founded at the university in 2017. “Last year we already held a hackathon on Jewish cultural heritage with Potsdam’s Moses Mendelssohn Center. An event with broad international resonance! We want to further develop and sustainably profile hackathons as an innovative research format in the Digital Humanities,” says Trilcke.

“The overwhelming response to the current event shows us how great the need is for exchange at the intersection of digital humanities and environmental data,” says Prof. Dr. Birgit Schneider, Professor of Knowledge Cultures and Media Environments at the University of Potsdam. “Especially in light of climate change, the urgency of the topic becomes clear. Global warming makes weather increasingly unpredictable, both on a spatial and temporal scale. This is beyond immediate comprehension, so data here offers access to this new reality. The humanities and media sciences now face the challenge of developing their own approaches to this reality,” says Schneider, who together with Prof. Trilcke, Dr. Anna Busch, Dr. Maximilian Gregor Hepach and Daniil Skorinkin, Ph.D., forms the Potsdam organizing team.

Henriette Herz Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
The one-off Henriette Herz Award supports universities in Germany in developing concepts for the strategic recruitment of outstanding international junior researchers. The award flanks the Henriette Herz Scouting Program, with which the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has been providing new access to the Humboldt Research Fellowship since 2020. In this innovative tool for attracting outstanding international junior researchers to Germany as a research location, researchers from German institutions apply to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as scouts: once selected, scouts then have the opportunity to propose up to three outstanding international junior researchers for Humboldt research fellowships.

Information on the hackathon:
Information on the Henriette Herz Scouting Program:

Time: 31 May to  2 June 2023
Location: Haus der Brandenburgisch-Preußischen Geschichte, Am Neuen Markt 2, 14467 Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Peer Trilcke, Spokesperson of the Digital Humanities Network at the University of Potsdam and Head of the Theodor Fontane Archive, Telephone: +49 (0)331 20139-6, E-mail: peer.trilckeuni-potsdamde
Prof. Dr. Birgit Schneider, Spokesperson of the Network for Digital Humanities at the University of Potsdam and Professor of Cultures of Knowledge and Media Environments, Telephone: +49 (0)331 977-1873, E-mail: birgit.schneideruni-potsdamde

Media Information 26-05-2023 / No. 054