Southern Illinois University Edwardsville welcomed the second-ever cohort of Community-Oriented Digital Engagement Scholars (CODES) to campus during a welcome reception Tuesday, Aug. 15.
“It is so exciting to welcome these students because it means that that this program is becoming established and that we are building a strong community,” said Jessica DeSpain, Ph.D., director of CODES, professor in the Department of English, and the co-director of the IRIS Center for Digital Humanities.
CODES is an innovative program that gives students firsthand experience using twenty-first century skills, including the ability to collaborate effectively, communicate in digital modes, and interpret the complexity of large-scale problems. The program is an alternative general education pathway for students who are Black, Latinx, Pell-eligible or among the first generation in their families to attend college.
The 25 CODES scholars will take their education beyond the walls of the classroom and into the St. Louis region. This year’s scholars will be working with the Missouri Botanical Garden and will explore the institution’s history of enslavement, retrace the erasures of Black and Brown residents who lived in the area that is now Shaw Nature Reserve, and study the indigenous knowledge and cultural context underlying specimens in the Garden’s extensive collection.
“We worked hard to find the perfect team of students who could work well together, who are dedicated to community work and who show a lot of promise for all the things that are so key to the program,” continued DeSpain. “We are so excited to welcome them for that reason and to build on that promise.”
In addition to DeSpain, Provost Denise Cobb, Ph.D., and Library and Information Services Interim Dean Eric Ruckh, Ph.D., addressed the scholars and their families at the reception with excitement for the transformational journey ahead.
The CODES program is funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.