You might be surprised to see humanities connected to a space that is usually reserved for science, the laboratory. But this innovative combination is precisely what defines our work as a research-driven incubator for social change. In the Humanities Lab, our approach to knowledge production is fundamentally collaborative, enabling teams of students, faculty, and community partners to ask new questions, follow research-informed leads, and together act on the most pressing social challenges we face today.
Humanities + Laboratory = new ways of knowing, doing, being
Humanities Labs are premised on the belief that technology alone will not resolve contemporary public health, civil rights, and environmental crises. At the Lab, questions posed in the humanities disciplines–questions about history, culture, ethics, story-telling, and power–are essential for developing healthier, more sustainable, and more just futures. Humanities frameworks empower us to focus not only on what we can do but on what we ought to do. Research informed by history, culture, and ethics requires an inclusive approach. Humanities Labs bring diverse (and often historically excluded) stakeholders together to formulate inquiry-driven action. Humanities Labs foreground the connectedness of humanity in the web of life as a teaching and learning philosophy, and in this way enable collaborative approaches that go beyond traditional academic boundaries and build bridges to new ways of knowing, doing and being.
With these commitments in mind, Humanities Labs are:
Transdisciplinary: Each Lab is taught by a team of faculty, librarians and collaborators from different disciplines and professions, on and off campus. Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the Labs come from humanities, arts, science, and professional programs throughout ASU. Even the Humanities Lab leadership is collaborative!
Transnational: The social challenges we face today–from the climate crisis, to the Covid-19 pandemic, to racial injustice and more— exceed national boundaries and are better understood when we research histories and responses from around the globe and from Indigenous nations, including those within Arizona and the Southwest.
Translational: Humanities Labs integrate local to global community partners as key architects in the formation of research questions and the translation of research into action. From within this lively laboratory, diverse student teams create “impact outcomes” such as public art, social media campaigns, white papers, op-eds, and mobile apps.
Transformational: Students transform by learning how to engage in collaborative research with the goal of taking informed action. Faculty transform by learning to design collaborative, inquiry-based, and publicly engaged curricula. Community partners transform by participating in research design and the creation of impact outcomes.
What is missing from all of this?
The Humanities Lab welcomes your ideas for new Labs designed to address what you see as our most urgent social challenges. We welcome your collaboration, experience, point-of-view, and networks of passionate classmates, colleagues and community partners. We also welcome your financial support as we work to advance our mission to transform our world through collaborative, inquiry-based and research-informed action.
Humanities Lab Co-Directors
Heather Switzer and Juliann Vitullo