Franklin Humanities Institute Seeks Proposals for Humanities Lab Projects


Deadline: January 20, 2017

Info session December 8, 2016 – 12-1:30pm

The Franklin Humanities Institute is soliciting proposals for a new Humanities Laboratory to begin in the 2017-18 academic year. The new Lab will receive funding for 3 years (contingent on successful annual reviews). Interested faculty are highly encouraged to join us for an information session on the Humanities Lab model and lessons learned from previous Labs at noon on Thursday 12/8 (Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall – C105, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse). Light lunch provided – RSVP to by Monday 12/5.

Program Description

In 2010, Duke University’s Franklin Humanities Institute became a pioneer in rolling out a new architecture of multiple humanities laboratories. The shared community design of the labs brings faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and other stakeholders together in vertically-integrated research, pedagogy, and practice. Lab co-directors are empowered to align their teaching to their research in a variety of structures involving apprentice-style learning, collaborative decision-making, and diverse forms of deliverables. FHI Labs since 2010 have included the Haiti Lab, GreaterThanGames, BorderWork(s), Audiovisualities, the PhD Lab, the Global Brazil Lab, and the Story Lab. The Mellon Foundation’s Humanities Writ Large (HWL) grant supported most of FHI’s Labs in the first five years.

The FHI begins a second wave of humanities lab development at a time when outside of Duke University, as Inside Higher Ed noted this past summer, humanities labs primarily exist in “early or experimental stages on a handful of campuses.” Furthermore, FHI humanities labs are now part of a burgeoning culture of collaborators at Duke, from the arts and technology labs in the department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies to the Innovation Co-Lab to Bass Connections teams. Beginning in the fall of 2016, new FHI humanities labs are coalescing in diverse post-Humanities Writ Large frameworks, notably the mobile and multiply-affiliated Social Practice Lab directed by Pedro Lasch, and the FHI Health Humanities Lab, co-funded by the Provost and the Chancellor of Duke Health, operating within a sister institute, the Duke Global Health Institute.

In this context, this year’s call for proposals for a new Humanities Laboratory departs in a few ways from the CFPs of the Humanities Writ Large era. We invite proposals in which the articulation of the Lab theme or concept is interwoven with an operative vision. Will the lab be fully localized at FHI, or will it connect to another Duke or Durham or even a global site or program? Does it have a strategy to allow faculty, grad students, and undergrads to base their primary work in the lab, rather than doing it as “extra” work? Are there target fields of impact, and how might that impact eventually be assessed? Will the lab plan to seek additional sources of funding during its term at the FHI, or funding to continue past the 3-year FHI commitment? This is a vision exercise, but we encourage prospective lab co-directors and core faculty associates to be strategic and realistic about resources of all kinds – time as well as money. We have also attached an outline of Lab project models as possible inspirations.

Support for the Labs

The Lab will be provided with a total of $50,000 in funding for each of three years depending on successful outcomes assessment annually. This total will cover both core operations and programming. A Lab’s operations budget may include faculty course releases (limited to a maximum of two courses per lab per year, contingent on Department Chair and Divisional Dean approval), graduate participation in vertically integrated research teams, undergraduate salaries, student staff assistance with programming, and associated costs. Programming budget would cover visiting speakers, public events, Lab research projects, and related expenditures. The Lab is provided with a space designed to foster collaboration and to multiply learning opportunities through exposure to the diversity of approaches to a coherent field of engagement: Lab faculty and students use this as a home base for activity connected to the Lab mandate.

The FHI will provide administrative support for the Lab in the following areas: budget and financial transactions, multimedia communications, facilities, and technology maintenance. The Lab will be expected to handle its own event and program logistics through graduate or part-time staff assistance, in coordination with the FHI staff.


Each Humanities Lab proposal should identify two to three regular-rank (tenured/tenure track, POP, and research) faculty members who will serve as the Lab’s co-directors, and two to three additional core faculty associates, including representatives of Duke’s professional schools or the other University Institutes. The co-directors can be comprised of faculty from the humanities, arts, and interpretive social sciences, or humanities/arts/interpretive social sciences faculty along with faculty from other Schools. To avoid over-commitment of junior faculty time and effort, no more than one Lab co-director should be at the Assistant rank.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should include the following components:

  • A 2 to 3-page narrative of the Lab project: its research and teaching objectives, and how these relate to the faculty conveners’ on-going scholarly and pedagogical practice; its potential intersections with other disciplines, schools, and Duke programs, including programs at other global sites; its intended fields of impact and how this impact will be assessed.
  • A list of 3-4 possible research projects and learning opportunities for undergraduate students and how you plan to implement them (e.g. as group independent studies, shared projects across multiple Lab-affiliated courses, etc.). Please see possible models in the “FHI Humanities Lab in Practice” document for reference.
  • A list of faculty participants (co-directors and core affiliates).
  • An outline of the budget categories in which the lab plans to use its $50,000 annual funding (e.g. Course release, $19,000. Please indicate any additional funds that the Lab will be able to draw upon (e.g. through existing projects and grants) or plans to raise funds from external or other Duke sources.
  • Additional materials:
    • Approval letters from the appropriate Department Chair and Divisional Dean for any Lab faculty member intending to request a course release.
    • Letters of support from the Department Chair and Divisional Dean for Lab co-director at the Assistant rank.

Complete proposal should be submitted electronically to by 5:00 PM, Friday, January 20, 2017. Approval/support letters from Chairs and Deans may be submitted separately to the same email address.

Questions? Please email FHI Associate Director Christina Chia at