CFP: Humanities Lab, beginning 2020-21

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Deadline: January 27, 2020

* See examples of recent and past Lab projects in this blog post or Box document *

The Franklin Humanities Institute is soliciting proposals for a new Humanities Lab to begin in the 2020-21 academic year. The new Lab will receive funding for 2-3 years (contingent on successful annual reviews). Jointly funded by the FHI and the Office of Global Affairs, the Lab should have global reach, broadly defined: for example, it can be focused on an area outside the US (like previous labs – Haiti, Global Brazil), on a topic with international or comparative dimensions (e.g. Social Movements), or on historical and cultural phenomena that cut across national and other geopolitical formations (e.g. From Slavery to Freedom). If it were a US based project, we would expect some understanding of the US in the world, whether transoceanic, pluriversal, internationalist, or part of a system of globalization. Projects that address earlier historical periods (in which terms like global and nation may be anachronistic) and diverse modes of world-making are encouraged. A PDF version of this CFP can be accessed here.

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. Along with possible connections to scholars and thinkers outside the US,   including those working in languages other than English, we welcome collaborations with journalists, artists, curators, designers, translators, architects, writers, activists, musicians, and other intellectuals who bring humanistic expertise to engagements with a variety of publics. We strongly suggest careful thought on how graduate students may be included in Lab activities. Though the FHI Labs do not require curricular “output,” new courses that may be taught or co-taught in the Lab are encouraged, as are co-curricular projects such as Story+. Working in complimentary relationship with the Humanities Unbounded Department-based Labs, we are seeking projects that range across departments and, if appropriate, schools.

Support for the Labs

The Lab will be provided with $50,000 in funding annually. The Lab’s budget should cover the cost of 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 and no more than one course per person, 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 is provided with a space designed to foster collaboration and to multiply learning opportunities through exposure to a 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 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 a Lab Manager, a member of the FHI staff who will be shared among our Labs, and 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, no more than one Lab co-director should be at the Assistant rank.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should include the following components:

  • A 2-page intellectual rationale, describing the Lab’s central research objectives and their cross-national, cross-regional dimensions;
  • Brief descriptions (1/2 page each) of 2-3 potential projects 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. See a list of possible Lab project models here. Please also feel free to discuss preliminary ideas with FHI Associate Director Christina Chia (
  • A list of faculty participants (co-directors and core affiliates). Co-directors must sign the proposal.
  • An outline of the budget categories in which the lab plans to use its $50,000 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.
  • 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 Monday, January 27, 2020. 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