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ABOUT HUMANITIES LABS

What are Humanities Labs?

Embracing the spirit of laboratory experimentation more familiar to the sciences, Humanities Labs provide innovative opportunities for student research and engagement. They bring together faculty from the humanities and related disciplines in student-engaged research projects organized around a central theme. With the guidance of a faculty team, students who enroll in a lab turn the topics and skills learned in humanities courses into a project that connects with a public audience. Labs may focus on (but are not limited to) outreach to specific community populations, developing new approaches to familiar and urgent global challenges, or the presentation of academic research in digital formats. Humanities Labs promote skill-building, hands-on experimentation, and outcomes communicable to the Miami community and beyond.

How Students Can Join a Lab

Are you an undergraduate who wants to make the world a better place?

Humanities Labs are high-impact programs for students who wish to make meaningful connections between the classroom and the community. With the guidance of a faculty team, students who enroll in a lab turn the topics and skills learned in humanities courses into a project that connects with a public audience. Labs may focus on (but are not limited to) outreach to specific community populations, developing new approaches to familiar and urgent global challenges, or the presentation of academic research in digital formats. Projects are designed to benefit the students and the community while also advancing the research agendas of the faculty team.

All lab students...

  • apply the skills associated with studying the humanities to real social challenges.
  • contribute to the  research of Miami University faculty members.
  • demonstrate to future employers an ability to collaborate, problem-solve, and experiment.
  • fulfill the experiential learning requirement in the Global Miami Plan.
  • communicate to a real public audience.
  • have a meaningful impact on the Miami community and beyond.

To take a lab, you must

  • enroll in one or both of the full semester courses related to the lab. (Students who feel they have qualified through prior coursework may enroll in the lab with with permission of the faculty team).
  • enroll in the corresponding Humanities Lab sprint-course.
  • actively contribute their training and perspective to the lab project.
  • commit to collaboration with other lab members to accomplish the best possible project outcome.

How Faculty Can Propose a Lab

Humanities Labs provide the opportunity for faculty to broaden the impact of their scholarly research. They aim to bring together faculty from the humanities and related disciplines in student-engaged research projects organized around a central theme. Embracing the true sense of laboratory experimentation familiar to the sciences, Humanities Labs  promote skill-building, hands-on experimentation and outcomes communicable to the Miami community and beyond.

The Humanities Labs involve three related parts:

Theme

  • Faculty pairs are invited to propose a research theme, method, practice, or problem that would benefit directly from a collaborative and experimental approach. This topic should develop from a shared research interest that faculty approach from different disciplinary and methodological perspectives.
  • Examples of themes might be “Narrative,” “Democracy,” “Health Humanities”, and “The History of Big Data” although these examples are not meant to be prescriptive. (These examples are from Duke University’s Franklin Humanities Institute and Indiana University’s Experimental Humanities Lab.)

Courses

  • Each faculty member will commit to teach a separate course in their field during the same semester. Both courses are to be linked by their common research theme.
  • These courses may already exist. “Special topics” courses might also be an opportunity in the curriculum to develop a Humanities Lab course.
  • These courses will be offered simultaneously to facilitate interaction.
  • Department chairs will need to approve this teaching assignment and guarantee that it will be within load and will not require additional resources to cover the course.

Lab

  • The faculty team will also co-lead a one-credit humanities lab experience with students from either course that will put theory into practice through experimentation and a meaningful public project.
  •  The lab will run as an eight-week sprint course.

Labs might involve the following:

  • Curating an exhibition of objects in Miami University’s material collections related to the lab’s topic
  • Producing a series of podcasts addressing the lab’s topic
  • Developing a smartphone app that guides its audience on a tour of a site of cultural importance
  • Contributing to an ongoing digital mapping or digital humanities project
  • Interacting with a community that could be directly affected by the lab’s topic
  • Producing a digital archive of oral histories or primary sources about the lab’s topic
  • Developing a performance or collaborative publication.

Each faculty member will be awarded $2500 in professional expenses. Each Humanities Lab will also be awarded $5000 in lab fees to support materials, production, travel and other expenses associated with student participation in the lab project. Teaching Labs are funded initially for one year but should be envisaged as a sustainable program that could potentially result in multi-year investigations about important topics in the humanities.

Interested faculty are strongly encouraged to meet with the Humanities Center’s Associate Director (Pepper Stetler) to discuss ideas for the program. Applications should be no more than two single-spaced pages and should also include faculty applicants’ CVs.

Applicants should submit a proposal that explains:

  • the lab’s topic, its relevance to current issues in the humanities, and how it would benefit from this collaborative and experimental approach;
  • the courses taught by each faculty member and their contribution to the overall goal of the lab;
  • the one-credit lab, including the approach, activities, and intended outcome(s), possibly including a schedule and timeline of lab meetings.
  • a note of endorsement from the department chair specifying how the proposed course fits into the applicant’s teaching load.

Successful applications will demonstrate: 1) a persuasive and coherent description of the topic and its relevance to current research in the humanities; 2) the creative and innovative qualities of their project; 3) a well-defined plan for the lab including how the lab funds will be used; and 4) an excellent plan for inventive outcomes that contribute to pioneering new research and teaching methods in the humanities.

Please submit your final application via email to humanitiesgrants@miamioh.edu by the deadline. Please type “HUMANITIESLAB” in the subject line of your message. Your message should contain your application document in the form of a PDF attachment named "[your last names] HUMANITIESLAB_Application.pdf."

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TOUR THE HUMANITIES LABS

Urban Architecture Lab
Lab members will help a Cincinnati neighborhood recover its roots.
Jeffrey Kruth (Urban Design), Elizabeth Keslacy (Architecture History), Nishani Frazier (History), and John Blake (Center for Community Engagement in Cincinnati).
Visible Religion Lab
Participants will identify and counter bias against religious minorities.
Rosemary Pennington (MJF) and Liz Wilson (Comparative Religion)
Virtual History Lab
Lab participants will draw from documentary sources in Miami’s Special Collections to produce an augmented reality project for the fiftieth anniversary of the Rowan Hall protests of 1970.
Andy Rice (MJF) and Eric Hodgson (AIMS)
Performance Lab
Performing Social Justice features student-engaged research and experience-based projects that utilize performance as a methodology of engaging vital social issues and enacting social change.
Ann Elizabeth Armstrong (Theatre) and Katie Johnson (English)
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