studiolab Living and Learning Communities Grant, 2019

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Awards up to $210,000

Application Deadline – Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 12 pm CST


The Center for the Humanities is pleased to announce, as part of our five-year initiative aimed at transforming humanities PhD training, a funding opportunity for tenure-track and tenured faculty. Generously supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Redefining Doctoral Education in the Humanities (RDE) studiolab Living and Learning Communities Grant will be awarded to an organizing team of two to three faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to pilot a yearlong interdisciplinary seminar. The humanities studiolab we envision draws inspiration from both the studio and the laboratory as pedagogical spaces. Its participants—a humanities scholar-in-residence, a two-year pre-doc/post-doc fellow, and an interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students—will work and (if personal situations allow) live together in the newly renovated Lewis Center. It is our hope that the studiolab will advance a new model for a learning community that undertakes innovative work in the humanities and trains post-docs and PhD students to be prepared for rewarding and important careers within and beyond the academy.

We seek proposals for a two-semester graduate course (fall 2020–spring 2021) that focuses on a theme or problem, and also develops capacities, beyond specific disciplinary skills, that are often neglected in graduate training: quantitative and digital skills, collaboration, writing for multiple audiences, public presentation, project management, and humanities pedagogy beyond the research university. Applicants are encouraged to think broadly and creatively about ways to explore and redefine what is possible in teaching and learning in the humanities at Washington University.

Fall 2018 will be the first of three funding cycles for this grant. One studiolab grant will be awarded per cycle. All three of these vertically organized studiolab communities will be piloted, one each year, in the newly renovated Lewis Center at 721 Kingsland Avenue, just off the Delmar Loop. This complex will provide housing for graduate students in the humanities and the arts, as well as housing for visiting humanities faculty and artists/scholars-in-residence, studio space, and a multipurpose exhibition/performance venue. The center consists of approximately 70,000 usable square feet, 20,000 square feet of which has been allotted for nonresidential use and 50,000 for residential space. With the move-in date scheduled for fall 2020, the renovation of the Lewis Center gives us an extraordinary opportunity to think about “space” and “community” as constitutive parts of the RDE initiatives we hope will transform graduate training in the humanities at Washington University.

As the studiolab is an ambitious and experimental model for transforming humanities doctoral education, it is designed with the following markers and consultative resources:

          1. To ensure a successful living and learning community in the Lewis Center, the grant funds a year of development (spring 2019–summer 2020) preceding the opening of the studiolab. This substantial lead time will give the awardees an opportunity to assemble their team over the course of a full academic year. Planning goals include:
                    a. Developing a two-semester studiolab syllabus.
                    b. Selecting a pre-/post-doctoral fellow recruited from within Washington University who will be appointed during his or her final year of graduate school to assist faculty in the development phase and, in the following year, will serve in a post-doctoral capacity as the studiolab coordinator or project manager.
                    c. Securing a humanities scholar-in-residence from outside Washington University whose duration is to be determined and budgeted by the faculty organizers. We encourage applicants to envision their humanities scholar-in-residence as someone who not only has thematic or topical expertise, but experience with scholarly collaboration and innovation, as well as with public community engagement.
                    d. Hosting at least one external consultant from a humanities lab at another institution.
                    e. Recruiting an interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students, including during recruitment weekend and first-year orientation.
          2. With the studiolab, we aim to bring a more public face to the humanities work we do. For this reason, the concluding project of the studiolab must be public facing. We encourage applicants to consider the range of forms that this might take, including performances, exhibitions, documentary films, and publications in popular and academic venues.
          3. Over the duration of the grant, awardees will work closely with the RDE PI and Advisory Committee to ensure that support is consistent and, when necessary, to allow for revisions to be made during the studiolab’s development and implementation. In addition, we will work with the awardees to learn from the expertise generated from humanities labs at other institutions. In the creation of our studiolab, models included University of Michigan’s Humanities Collaboratory, American University’s Humanities Lab, the University of Chicago’s Chicago Design Lab, and the Nexus Digital Research Co-op, among others. The awardees will invite at least one external consultant from these institutions or others for an advisory visit in the year preceding the studiolab and for a final evaluation visit at the close of the studiolab.

Eligibility, application and submission details

Eligibility – All Arts & Sciences tenured or tenure-track instructors of graduate students with a faculty appointment in the Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences are welcome to apply. The organizing team must consist of a minimum of two faculty members representing at least two primary departments.

Application Deadline – Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 12 pm central time.

Grant Amount – Up to $210,000.

Grant Period – The grant will fund activities between spring 2019 and summer 2021.

Application Requirements –

  1. Application cover page, including name, rank, department, contact details, signature of each applicant and of each department chair.
  2. A project title and summary, the latter of no more than 300 words.
  3. A project description (5-page limit; single spaced; 12 pt. font), which should include a description of the theme or problem that the seminar will investigate; a discussion of the capacities that will be foregrounded in the seminar and the new curricular design and/or teaching strategies that will be developed to meet these objectives in skill building; and a description of the public-facing project that will conclude the seminar.
  4. Lists of advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses taught by each of the applicants in the last five years—include course numbers, course titles, and the semesters in which the courses were taught.
  5. A budget and budget narrative, including a description and itemization of costs. The budget should include stipends for a scholar-in-residence, for a consultant to make an advisory visit prior to the implementation of the studiolab and an evaluation visit upon its conclusion, and for the pre-doctoral fellow (year 1), and salary and fringes for the post-doctoral fellow (year 2). Other acceptable expenditures can include resources such as books, apps, software, and equipment for teaching and training innovations, stipends for guest speakers, and modest subsidies for travel in conjunction with the seminar. Please be as specific as possible about the expenses you expect to incur. Funds may not be used for course relief, faculty salary, local meals, entertainment, or alcohol purchases.
  6. A timeline, which should account for the year of development prior to the opening of the studiolab in fall 2020.
  7. Evaluation and assessment plan, which describes how you will assess and judge the studiolab’s success.
  8. Curriculum vitae of each of the organizing faculty members.
  9. Letters of endorsement from the department chairs of each of the applicants acknowledging understanding of and compliance with the requirement that the organizing faculty members will teach a year-long graduate level seminar in fall 2020 and spring 2021. The proposed new course must have preliminary approval from the departments.

Submission Procedure – Submit the full proposal, including cover sheet, letters of endorsement, and CVs as a single email attachment to using the following naming convention for the application pdf:  Last name First name RDE StudioLab.  Deadline for submission:  12 pm, CST, Friday, January 15, 2019.

Project Selection –

Selection will be made by a subcommittee consisting of four members of the RDE Advisory Committee, the Dean of the Graduate School, and two external members recruited from humanities labs at other institutions. Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. The overall significance of the theme or problem to be addressed in the seminar.
  2. The potential of the seminar to offer innovative and substantive collaboration across disciplines in a way that engages all members of the studiolab community, and to culminate in a meaningful public presentation upon its conclusion.
  3. The appropriateness of the chosen means to achieve clear learning goals and projected outcomes with emphasis on plans to incorporate and develop the abovementioned skills considered essential to success within and beyond academia.
  4. The prioritization of bringing together a diverse cohort of graduate students with the understanding that the studiolab as a living and learning community offers a unique opportunity to develop a curriculum that not only is interdisciplinary and innovative, but also provides access to a broad range of skills and capacities aimed at a multiplicity of careers.
  5. A well-developed plan to draw from the expertise generated by established models for innovative doctoral education in the humanities.
  6. A well-developed plan for assembling the studiolab team and for recruiting an interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students.
  7. The likelihood of the studiolab generating long-term curricular change in the humanities.

Reporting – As the studiolab is the most ambitious and experimental of the four RDE initiatives, we will be in close contact with the faculty organizers at every stage of the studiolab’s development and implementation. We will require progress reports at the close of each semester from the faculty in charge of the studiolab. The outside consultant will return at the close of the studiolab for a final evaluation visit.  Faculty organizers are strongly encouraged to attend one of the RDE workshops in advance of the studiolab’s opening in fall 2020.

Timeline –

September 17, 2018: submission window opens

January 15, 2019: submission window closes

February 15, 2019: announcement of studiolab selection

Spring 2019: open search for pre-/post-doctoral fellow

Spring 2019: begin assembly of team and recruitment of graduate students

Fall 2020: studiolab opens

Summer/Fall 2021: final dissemination of results (public-facing presentation)

If you have any questions, please contact RDE principal investigator Jean Allman.