Announcing a new opportunity at Rutgers for Wikipedians interested in endangered languages

I’m pleased to announce a new opportunity at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, for a Wikipedian interested in improving articles about endangered languages!

As an encyclopedia written almost entirely by volunteers, Wikipedia is an incredible accomplishment. As of today, the English Wikipedia has just short of 5.6 million articles. But research has shown that coverage is not uniform across subjects. Unsurprisingly, the English Wikipedia attracts a lot of information from and about the English-speaking world while content about other languages is often underdeveloped or missing. That’s why I’m excited that Rutgers, through its Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures, is participating in the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program to help make coverage of these other languages more robust.

Through the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program, educational institutions empower Wikipedians who like to edit in particular topic areas by giving them remote access to databases, ebooks, and other research resources. Wikipedians gain access to high-quality materials to write about topics they’re already interested in, and institutions make a contribution to public knowledge in a particular field by broadening the impact of their collections.

The Visiting Scholar would gain remote access to Rutgers University Libraries’ 700,000 ebooks, hundreds of databases, and specialized collections. In addition, the Visiting Scholar would have access to resources through the Research Library of Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute, a Rutgers affiliate. Beth Mardutho promotes Syriac heritage and language, providing access to relevant resources in Syriac, Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, and Latin, as well as less common languages like Aramaic, Armenian, Coptic, Malayalam, and Turkish.

Rutgers University is a public, tier 1 research university in New Jersey. Founded in 1766 as Queens College, Rutgers-New Brunswick is the eighth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges established before the American Revolution. Today it is home to nearly 50,000 undergraduates and 20,000 graduate students, with campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden.

The Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) was established in 2008. Part of the School of Arts and Sciences, it offers a major and four minors through the New Brunswick campus. The Department provides instruction in languages such as Akan (Twi), Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Swahili, and Turkish, as well as introductory and specialized courses taught in English on a broad spectrum of topics, including literature, folklore and translation. With a diverse student body comprising of students from almost every conceivable ethnic, religious, and linguistic background, Rutgers provides many opportunities to explore the world’s languages and literary traditions from both global and personal perspectives.

Supporting this position at Rutgers is AMESALL Chair Charles Haberl. Asked why he would like to support a Visiting Scholar, he explained that “the phenomenon of endangered languages is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, and the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences uniquely recognizes it as such within its Core Curriculum. As the world’s largest encyclopedia, Wikipedia is a critical resource for our students as they seek to learn more about the world around them, and a Visiting Scholar can help improve the quality and quantity of the information available to them as they begin their research.”

Examples of topic areas relevant to this opportunity: the global phenomenon of language endangerment; endangered languages of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia; language ideologies; formal and informal language policies; linguistic engineering; linguistic nationalism; and ethno-linguistic minorities.

If you’re a Wikipedian interested to gain remote access to Rutgers resources for use in improving these topics, fill out the application here. For more information about the Visiting Scholars program in general, or to learn how you can get involved as a sponsor, see the Visiting Scholars section of our website.

Header image: File:Rutgers spelled out in hedge on College Ave campus New Brunswick NJ.JPGTomwsulcer, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


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