Where Inquiry Meets Action

Tackle grand social challenges with the Humanities Lab

Welcome to the

Humanities Lab

Arizona State University continues to be one of the most innovative universities in the country. The new Humanities Lab is consistent with that ranking because it changes the way faculty and students approach instruction and research. The Humanities Lab provides students with the opportunity to engage in hands-on research on compelling social challenges of interest to today’s students while working with others who are also invested in making a difference. To accomplish this goal, the Humanities Lab has designed a flexible, experimental space in Durham Hall and also in the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 7 (ISTB7) to promote collaboration and team-based activities including huddle spaces and rough tables for building models, making posters, etc.


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Our Focal Areas

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Social Justice

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Health and Wellbeing

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Human Impact of Economic/ Technological development

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Education Exigencies

Explore our current, future, and past labs

If there is a social challenge you’d like to see addressed in the future, send us your suggestion. Contact the Humanities Lab.

Current and Upcoming Lab Courses | Past Lab Courses

What's happening in the Lab.

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Series encourages open discussion about gun violence

As the students discuss what they’ve learned, instructors Sarah Lindstrom Johnson, an associate professor in Arizona State University’s T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, and James Blasingame...

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Where the Humanities Are Not in Crisis

SINCE NYU PROFESSOR John Guillory’s book Professing Criticism: Essays on the Organization of Literary Studies appeared last fall, perusing the ensuing debates has been like eavesdropping on a tiff among academic stars. Critique of the book has...

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ASU Humanities Lab students present climate change research to government officials in Washington, D.C.

A group of Arizona State University students got a glimpse into climate change and United States foreign policy this spring. 

Why the Humanities Lab?

Most of the really big challenges we face are not fundamentally about technology, science, economics, etc. They are human challenges that have been with us for a very long time and therefore require human-centered inquiry as part of the search for a solution.

Yet, often the humanities disciplines are not included in such discussions. Therefore, the Humanities Lab brings the humanities to the table by emphasizing the study of values and the way we understand the world around us.

Merging the humanities with diverse disciplines helps us to see the grand social challenges more holistically and therefore puts us in a better position to conceptualize solutions.

What Students and Faculty Have to Say.

Melissa, bachelor's degrees in history and English writing, rhetorics and literacies

"Although the majority of my academics lies within the humanities division, I've always had an interest in the 'science' side of things, particularly relating to tech - such as coding. As someone who wants to become an intellectual property attorney, I found it important to receive a holistic education and experience during my time here. For that reason, I spoke to my adviser at The College, and he connected me with an organization here on campus called SolarSPELL, which provides offline, online digital libraries for third world countries. These small databases become a source of information for these communities, and while working as a Metadata Fellow, I was given the opportunity to help craft these databases, working with copyright and legal information to ensure content use."

Amalie, bachelor's degrees in Spanish and biological sciences

When Amalie Strange shares with people that she majored in both the sciences and humanities, she said she often receives weird looks and questions about the combination of academic paths. But to Amalie, the two paths benefited each other well. "The tools that I've used to write an essay about literature have ended up helping me when I write about science to make it more exciting, interesting and have more personality. Then the analysis that I've learned through science writing has also helped me write about literature and really get to the central core of what a text is about," she said. "So they've actually ended up helping each other a lot more than I ever expected." Amalie said studying literature helped her learn about different perspectives and made her sensitive to the plight of others. She is continuing her science career path, now pursuing her PhD in animal sciences at ASU, and said she's excited to collaborate with others in her field. "I definitely have to say that my humanities background has helped prepare me for that with collaboration and everything. I'm really excited to start to use that in a professional way."

Micah, bachelor's degrees in English (literature), French and political science

Micah McCreary is a self-proclaimed overachiever, which helps explain how after transferring to Arizona State University, he ended up pursuing three degrees––English (literature), French and political science––one minor in Asian languages (Chinese) and one certificate in international studies. "People will tell you all the time that being bilingual is a really big step up in society. I guess I didn't realize until I was bilingual and then trilingual that it's actually even more of an advantage than you think. It doesn't just open up job opportunities or those sort of utilitarian things. It also opens up your mindset and your ability to embrace other people in other cultures," McCreary said. To those considering a humanities degree, McCreary says to remember that your opportunities are close to endless. "I think that stereotypes are unfair to humanities students. Don't let that get in your way — pursue it with zest and vigor."

Tom, master's degree in philosophy

Tom Fournier wondered whether 57 years old was too old of an age to return to school. But just two weeks into an introductory logic and philosophy course, he was hooked. After a few more beginner courses, he began his master's degree in philosophy from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "My advice to humanities students is don’t let the STEM trend weaken your commitment to the humanities, especially in light of our current global situation," Fournier said. "The humanities are relevant now more than ever. STEM might be the engine propelling much of our modern society, but the humanities have the steering wheel."

Tiffany, bachelor's degree in history, minor in global studies

Tiffany Schwartz graduated in spring 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in global studies. She says she never once doubted her decisions in her education because they were driving her toward a challenging and rewarding career path. After spending a summer traveling, she jumped into graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C., the following fall semester to pursue a master’s degree in international and intercultural communication with a focus in international peace and conflict resolution. In studying international relations, she hopes to promote progressive, productive dialogue between groups and to build bridges between borders. "My background in the humanities and social sciences allowed me to enter the international sphere with a comprehensive knowledge of a number of regions and cultures as well as a solid theoretical basis in the many facets of international studies," Schwartz said. "This experience showed me how much I love and value education, and one could argue that my experiences in Finland have been a significant influence in my endeavor for a Fulbright grant."