Humanities Labs are multi-year programs designed around a theme and intended to drive change and innovation in our undergraduate humanities curriculum through new courses and student research opportunities. A defining characteristic of a humanities lab is the team physically sharing a space and technology (digital, cartographic, etc.), creating a knowledge production environment typically associated with the sciences.
The first Humanities Lab at Duke began with the 2010-11 academic year – the Haiti Lab. In the 2011-12 academic year, the Haiti Lab was joined by two additional labs: BorderWork(s) and GreaterThanGames. During the 2013-14 academic year there are two labs - BorderWork(s) is in its final year and Audiovisualities is in its first year. For 2014-15, Audiovisualities will be joined by Global Brazil.
The Humanities Labs program brings together groups of faculty and students from throughout Duke University who share discipline-crossing research and pedagogical agendas rooted in the humanities. They are supported by a Library Humanities Academic Technology Consultant and Research Assistants trained in pedagogically oriented technologies. The Labs are located in, and additionally supported by, the Franklin Humanities Institute.
Each Humanities Lab is built around a theme or broadly defined idea as articulated by a core team of four to five faculty members from the humanities, interpretive social sciences, and other Duke schools and research units. Each lab (which can run for a period of 1 to 3 years) also encompasses an expanded group of faculty members, graduate assistants, and a team of undergraduates working on a set of shared research projects. Undergraduates can align their participation in the labs to their independent study projects or in relation to honors projects. In each year of each lab, participating faculty members design and teach undergraduate courses that build on or relate to the lab’s research project.
The Humanities Labs actively employ technology as a tool for research, research dissemination, pedagogy, and collection/archive development. The labs also draw heavily on the unique strengths of the Duke faculty in order to ensure that media and technology are objects of critical study in the course of each lab.
In simultaneously focusing the work of the labs on research and pedagogy, we are seeking to bring the innovative, interdisciplinary research the Franklin Humanities Institute has long supported more fully into the undergraduate experience of students at Duke and, indeed, to invite undergraduates to participate as researchers themselves, helping to define emerging and future areas of humanities scholarship. By drawing on faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from across the disciplines and schools, the labs seek to vitally supplement the humanities-driven research opportunities and pedagogical experiences of faculty and students across the full landscape of the university.