Humanities

Humanities

SIF86 Social Sciences & Humanities: Advanced Research & New Forms of Learning (Humanities)

Project Manager: Ian Baucom with Alison Levine, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The purpose of this award is to create new knowledge, provide training for students, and engage the public, with initial foci on: 1. Religion, Politics, and Conflict; 2. Citizen Justice; 3. Global Religion; 4. Humanities Informatics.

BoV Approved: December 2016

Project Dates: 2/3/2017 – 6/30/2021

Funding Awarded: $2,000,000

Executive Summary

The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences sought funding for advanced research and new forms of experiential learning in the Social Sciences and the Humanities. These new forms of learning are Laboratories that focus on overarching themes of the moment and that aim to transform the production, communication, and dissemination of research in the social sciences and the humanities, while training graduate and undergraduate students in faculty cross-disciplinary research and in collaborations with local, national, and international partners. 

The research themes selected for this initiative are:

  1. Religion, Politics and Conflict
  2. Citizen Justice: Engaging Race in Digital Spaces
  3. Global Religion
  4. Humanities Informatics

Each Lab has a vision for activities to:

  1. Create new knowledge across disciplines and schools;
  2. Provide innovative training opportunities for post-doctoral fellows, and undergraduate and graduate students; and 
  3. Engage the broader public.

Current Status: Active

Progress

The overall goal of this project by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences was to promote advanced research and new forms of experiential learning in the Social Sciences and the Humanities. Specific goals were: 1. to create new knowledge across disciplines and schools; 2. to provide innovative training opportunities for post-doctoral fellows, and undergraduate and graduate students; and 3. to engage the broader public. The project accomplished these goals by establishing interdisciplinary, theme-based laboratories that would transform the production, communication, and dissemination of research in the social sciences and the humanities, while training graduate and undergraduate students in faculty cross-disciplinary research and in collaborations with local, national, and international partners.

This project was transformational to research in Arts and Sciences in ways that go beyond the individual achievements of each lab (these are themselves significant; details provided below). But beyond these labs, the SIF award provided a major step in the transformation of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences into an internationally-known hub of interdisciplinary excellence. This has been a key goal of Arts and Sciences for the past decade; the work is ongoing but we have made significant progress to which this award contributed. We have become known for interdisciplinary research groups in arts and sciences; this helps enhance our recruiting and retention efforts and has increased our ability to attract outside funding (currently at its highest level in ten years). The kind of work begun with this SIF grant is now ongoing in other labs that follow a similar model, supported by external philanthropic and foundation funding sources.

In addition to these shared goals, each of the four interdisciplinary labs that was established under this award achieved the following individual objectives.

1/Religion, Politics, and Conflict (RPC)

The primary achievements of the Religion, Politics and Conflict Lab were: to introduce new, UVa based models for the interdisciplinary (and cross-school) academic study of religion-related political conflict and of the consequences of such conflict (such as forced emigration, social dislocation). RPC nurtured interdisciplinary faculty working groups as well as new courses, programs, and research internships in this area. The team also introduced and field-tested unprecedented new diagnostic tools for predicting near-future religious stakeholder group behavior toward other groups.

2/Citizen Justice (CJI)

The Citizen Justice Initiative Lab used public scholarship to advance diversity in education by recruiting students, training teachers, and educating the general public about academic scholarship through digital platforms and projects. In addition to hosting a wide array of lectures, seminars, and workshops, the CJI produced an interactive map on the history of white supremacy; facilitated a series of arts workshops in response to the August 11th and 12th white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville; worked on a multi-part podcast series about Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia for the University’s Bicentennial Celebration; and curated a digital edition of Julian Bond’s speeches via “transcribe-a-thon” events.

3/Global Religion (GR)

The Global Religion Lab developed two new public-facing interdisciplinary research efforts at the University of Virginia: 1) Sanctuary Lab, which explores relationships between climate stress and sacred natural sites around the world, and 2) the Religion, Race & Democracy Lab, which supports teaching, research and public engagement on the entanglements of religion, race, and global democracy in our everyday lives. The lab has attracted funding from a wide array of internal and external grants to expand their pursuit to transform the study of religion both within the academy and for the public.

4/Humanities Informatics (HI)

The Humanities Informatics Lab (HIL) studied the contemporary and historical relationships between human culture and information technology, exploring questions of the management, control, and flow of information across multiple disciplines. It encouraged critical and all-too-rare dialogues between humanities scholars and those working in the fields of computer science, economics, urban planning, and data science (among others). HIL sponsored four interdisciplinary research groups—Human & Machine Intelligence (HMI), Network/Corpus, Smart Environments, and Surveillance and Infrastructure.