Experts spoke about the burgeoning growth of the digital age in academics in front of a crowd at Rackham Auditorium this past weekend.

Cathy Davidson, an English professor at Duke University, was the first of several speakers at the fifth annual Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory conference held Thursday through Saturday. This year’s event, titled “Digital Scholarly Communication,” focused on improving digital technology available to the students and staff of research universities, as well as adapting to the 21st century academia.

Davidson, co-founder of HASTAC — a nationwide network of scholars committed to maximizing the potential of new technology — spoke to the amphitheater of professors, activists and students about the institution of learning and how it must change to accommodate growth in the post-industrial age.

“We have great institutions that do a good job of preparing us for the 20th century,” Davidson said. “How do we rethink those institutions for the 21st century?”

Panels and presentations at the conference offered by a variety of professionals from schools such as Columbia University and Cornell University sought to investigate the nuances of the digital age.

Philosophy professor Daniel Herwitz, professor and director of the University’s Institute for the Humanities, said the University has become a significant player in the digital era. According to Herwitz, this period emphasizes the importance of student adaptability to technology.

Herwitz added the three most important qualities of students in the digital age are “the ability to think synergistically between different kinds of technologies, the ability to have a critical approach to complex social problems and the ability to negotiate global divides.”

LSA senior Paris Von Habsburg-Lothringen, a student member of HASTAC who helped coordinate the event, said she supports the University’s efforts at becoming a more digital community.

“Digital humanities allow people to connect across the various concentrations,” Von Habsburg-Lothringen said. “I see that there’s a lot of professors now who try to integrate technology into the classroom as a teaching aid and a way to improve learning.”

Correction appended: An earlier version of this story misstated Paris Von Habsburg-Lothringen’s involvement with HASTAC.

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