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Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Director of Digital Humanities and Professor of English, Michigan State University
Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Remote instruction...has the potential to make education available to more people only if they can access it. [Students] need robust internet access and technological capabilities

Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Key Interview Takeaways

Institutions are saying they require all members of its community to give up something for the institution to survive. However, institutions need to genuinely support the people that make up the institution.

Universities have lost the confidence of the public that they serve. They have turned into a credential system instead of providing a social good to the public. That loss of trust has dangerously corrosive effects on students. Institutions are more worried about the bottom line if students do not come back in the fall versus the impact on the community. The values are misaligned. COVID and BLM have highlighted the fissures that were already there. ​

Attempting to replicate the face-to-face classroom through video cameras doesn’t work as well as you wanted it to. It is time for higher education to be ready to look at what digital pedagogy can do well and for institutions to reach a mature relationship with technology. Instructional Design has an opportunity to create a collaborative relationship instead of a service relationship.​


Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Digital Humanities and Professor of English at Michigan State University. Prior to assuming this role in 2017, she served as Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication of the Modern Language Association. Among other projects in that role, she oversaw the development of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. During that time, she also held appointments as Visiting Research Professor of English at NYU and Visiting Professor of Media Studies at Coventry University. Before joining the MLA staff in 2011, she was Professor of Media Studies at Pomona College, where she had been a member of the faculty since 1998. Fitzpatrick is author of Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (NYU Press, 2011), and The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006). She is project director of Humanities Commons, an open-access, open-source network serving more than 23,000 scholars and practitioners in the humanities. She is also co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons, where she has led a number of experiments in open peer review and other innovations in scholarly publishing. She serves on the editorial or advisory boards of publications and projects including the Open Library of the Humanities, Luminos, the Open Annotation Collaboration, PressForward, and thresholds. She currently serves as the chair of the board of trustees of the Council on Library and Information Resources, and as Vice-President/President-Elect of the Association for Computers and the Humanities.