The PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge at the Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) provides an arena in which PhD and MFA students involved in the humanities and interpretive social sciences can learn about new digital scholarship, engage with its challenges, and see its promise for their own research and professional lives within or outside the university.
Innovations in the digital, informational, and computational fields are generating new forms of pedagogy and shaping novel modes of scholarship. They are widening our collaborative communities and expanding the publics with whom PhD and MFA candidates will engage. In the PhD Lab, we seek to balance the practical and the conceptual by allowing participants to prototype projects and receive peer feedback to enrich their understanding of the potential of digital scholarship.
Launched in fall 2012, the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge is a relatively new FHI initiative. In the virtual and physical space of the Lab, graduate students can learn not only the skills needed to work comfortably in digital environments, but also various approaches, philosophies, and motivations for exploring and applying such skills.
The PhD Lab is comprised of graduate students from a range of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and arts. PhD Lab Scholars come from all three Universities in the triangle area: Duke University, North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Lab’s mission and structure are driven by the students, and thus while the broad aims of the Lab will remain stable, the specific goals will change from one year to the next.
The PhD Lab meets regularly every two weeks, and scholars meet informally in the interim between meetings to work collaboratively on e-portfolios, projects or events.
In 2013, the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge became a founding member for the Praxis Network. The Praxis Network features graduate programs at the University of Virginia, Michigan State University, CUNY Graduate Center, University College London, and Duke University, as well as undergraduate programs at Hope College and Brock University. The partnership is one of three complementary projects in the Scholarly Communication Institute’s current work on rethinking graduate education.
The PhD Lab is supported by the Duke Graduate School, the Duke Provost’s Office, and (beginning Fall 2014) the Mellon Humanities Writ Large initiative, along with the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. The FHI also serves as the Lab’s institutional home.
The core commitment of the Humanities Labs is to engage undergraduates in advanced research alongside faculty and graduate student mentors/collaborators. Organized around a central theme, each Lab brings together faculty and students from the humanities and other disciplines in interdisciplinary, “vertically integrated” research projects. Lab participants work in physical spaces at the Franklin Humanities Institute that are designed to foster both formal collaboration and informal exchange. Shared technological resources enable the Labs to experiment with new research methods, new lines of inquiry, and new ways of engaging with public audiences at Duke and beyond.