Universiteit Leiden

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Anna Loh

Angus Mol, new LUCDH director: 'We want to be a point of contact'

Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities (LUCDH) has had a new director since 1 February. Associate Professor Angus Mol wants to connect people and knowledge in his new role.

'We all know that rapid digital developments can no longer be ignored in our research and education,' says Mol. 'Look at the developments in AI. This isn’t like the “old, familiar” digital revolution of the 1990s; it’s a turnaround in what we do for science and society. That we can grasp this at the Faculty of Humanities and work with it, that's what we want to contribute to as LUCDH.'

In practical terms, Mol wants to introduce researchers and students to digital working methods that go beyond the everyday. ‘We want to make sure that students are at least introduced to these research methods and theories,' Mol explains. 'In addition, we want to make it possible for people to really develop a deep specialisation in this field. We need to set that up as efficiently as possible, without having to pump a lot of extra time and money into it.'

Building bridges

The Faculty of Humanities is particularly well suited for this, he argues: 'Many people don’t realise it, but it is precisely as humanities that we are strong in thinking about technology such as AI and working with it. For example, the databases that linguistic scientists, such as at LUCL's predecessor, made available back in the 1980s contributed to the large language models that Silicon Valley is now rolling out. So all that knowledge is available here, but we are a long way off knowing exactly who is doing what and working out how to find our way around this interdisciplinary landscape.'

As director, he therefore wants to consider new teaching and research strategies that improve this connection. In addition, new facilities should contribute to this goal. 'We will of course have the Huizinga Humanities Hub, with an AI and digital lab, a new digital skills workshop space, the media lab, and podcast and video rooms available to every staff member and student. This will strengthen the collaboration with Journalism and New Media, for example, while we also make visible as a faculty the great things we have here.'

Point of contact

Mol himself can already be found regularly in the existing lab in the P.J. Veth building. 'People can always come there if they have questions or want to talk about what AI or other digital methods can mean for their research,' he stresses. 'We really want to be a point of contact for that, so we can collaborate even better on this topic. It would be great if we could make AI a humanities research topic! Then we could really have one profile as faculty and university with one vision that we promote.'

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