Call for Proposals: HUMANITIES LABs, BEGINNING FALL 2024 

Apply by Friday, February 2, 2024

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The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute is soliciting proposals for 1 or 2 new Humanities Labs to begin in the 2024-25 academic year. The new Lab(s) will receive funding for 2-3 years, contingent on successful annual reviews. Interested faculty are highly encouraged to join us at an information session (sign up here): in-person on Monday 1/8/24 at 12:30pm or by Zoom on Friday 1/19/24 at 9:30am. 

We invite proposals centered on collaborative, interdisciplinary faculty research in the humanities around a theme, a geographical area, a historical period, a genre, a concept, a paradigm, or another well-defined object of your choosing. While the call is open to all topics, we are particularly interested in projects that align with FHI priorities. For example, we welcome proposals that:   

  • Intersect productively with ongoing FHI projects such as Entanglement (on race, health, and climate), as well as a new initiative coalescing around Black Archives

  • Enhance areas of studies in development at Duke, such as Disability Studies, Trans Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Critical AI/Machine Learning Studies

  • Engage substantially with earlier historical periods, such as ones addressing Religion and Secularism or Political Theology.

As a focal point, we ask that each proposal include plans for a faculty/grad seminar on the topic of the Lab. We also encourage collaborations with journalists, artists, curators, designers, translators, architects, writers, activists, musicians, and other thinkers and practitioners who bring humanistic expertise to engagements with a variety of publics, including those outside the US and/or working in languages other than English. We are also open to proposals that involve faculty or students from Duke’s professional schools (Law, Nicholas, etc.) in humanities-centered inquiry.


Applicants may propose Lab budgets of $25,000 to $40,000 annually. The Lab’s budget should cover the cost of both core operations and programming. Operations budget may include faculty course releases (limited to one course per lab per year, contingent on Department Chair and Divisional Dean approval), graduate assistantships, undergraduate salaries, student staff assistance with programming, etc. Programming budget could be used for short-term residencies, visiting speakers, public events, Lab research projects, and related expenditures. 

The Lab spaces at the FHI’s Smith Warehouse home are designed for flexible programming, from smaller public events to class meetings to group collaborations. To encourage intellectual cross-pollination across the FHI, each Lab may be asked to share space with other FHI programs that are thematically related. 

The FHI will support the Lab in budget and financial management, HR/payroll, facilities, and computer/AV maintenance. The new Lab will receive programming and logistical assistance from an FHI staff member as well as graduate assistant(s) hired by the FHI. Other members of the FHI staff may also be available for more specialized services, for example consultation on scholarly publishing and digital projects, as well as occasional videography.


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 affiliates. 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. Affiliated faculty may be drawn from Arts and Sciences as well as Duke’s professional schools, other University Institutes, the Library, or the Nasher Museum. To avoid over-commitment of junior faculty time and effort, we recommend that no more than one Lab co-director be at the Assistant rank.


Proposals should include the following components: 

  1. A 2-page intellectual rationale, describing the Lab’s central research objectives; 

  1. Brief description (1/2 page) of a faculty/grad seminar embedded in the Lab; 

  1. Brief descriptions of 1 to 2 other potential projects (1 paragraph each) that the Lab might undertake in pursuit of these research objectives, e.g. publications, exhibitions, digital or multimedia projects, collaborations with individual or institutional partners, curricular and co-curricular projects, etc. We encourage you to conceptualize at least 1 major project that would span the life of the Lab. For models and ideas from past Labs, feel free to contact FHI Associate Director Chris Chia (  

  1. A list of faculty participants (co-directors and core affiliates). Co-directors must sign the proposal. 

  1. An outline of the budget categories in which the lab plans to use its $25-40K annual funding. 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. 

  1. 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 Friday, February 2, 2024. Approval/support letters from Chairs and Deans may be submitted separately to the same email address.

Questions? Please email

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