State University of New York at Oswego (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 2453-2461
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.0704
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
Colleges and universities have a central institutional role in establishing legitimate fields of inquiry as academic disciplines. Academic disciplines are not simply areas of intellectual investigation - they are defined fields of study that have been sanctioned as legitimate objects of focus and activity within these specific organizations of learning and research. Academic disciplines are thus not the same as more general fields of knowledge or inquiry -- they exist in organizations. Universities as organizations, furthermore, incorporate at least in part the normative features that govern other institutions. The managerial and administrative norms that direct other establishments in contemporary society are thus also present in universities.

Knowledge management, which is an area of computer and information science that can be used in the administration of organizations in general, can serve as a source for analogical insights that can help us understand the formation and regulation of academic disciplines. As the name implies, "knowledge management" concerns the identification and structuring of information assets that potentially benefits an organization. Knowledge management systems thinking has two functions that can aid in understanding the birth and management of disciplines in universities today. The first function is largely descriptive: the establishment of disciplinary features in a taxonomy can clarify what a discipline is. Taxonomies (or ontologies) serve more generally in knowledge management as structured data that can be used by a system. The second function is largely normative: a university "ought" to include a particular discipline since its inclusion in the curriculum might give the institution a "comparative advantage" over other establishments. This advantage is often expressed as a form of capital, which can be one of the results of information management. The kind of capital created by academic subjects that are sanctioned by universities can be termed "disciplinary capital." Disciplinary capital works with other types of capital (mostly identified by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu) to give academic subjects a role in defining and guiding institutions of higher learning. This paper will describe how the rationalizing aspects of knowledge management systems thinking can help transform an emerging area of inquiry, Digital Humanities, into an institutionalized subject of explicit knowledge that has disciplinary capital. The disciplinary capital of the Digital Humanities, in turn, can act to increase the intellectual, cultural, social, and economic capital of universities.
Universities, Academic Disciplines, Information Systems, Interdisciplinary.