About Humanities Unbounded Labs

Humanities Unbounded funding enables us to embed active laboratory learning models in Duke's humanities and interpretive social sciences departments by weaving collaborative research and project-based learning into new curricular frameworks. We are now seeking proposals for the next two labs, each funded for two years, to begin in Fall 2020. Proposals are due Monday, October 21, 2019 and labs will be selected during the Fall semester to allow time for planning.

The English Department piloted this embedded lab model in 2017-18 through the Representing Migrations Humanities Lab, which continues in 2018-19. Two new labs came online in 2018-19: The MicroWorlds Lab, embedded in the History Department, and the Games + Culture Lab in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies. The labs that came online in 2019-20 are The BrainCultures Lab in the Program in Literature and The Ethnography Workshop in Cultural Anthropology.

The Humanities Unbounded Steering Committee is seeking ideas from departments that want to experiment with linking courses around collaborative, project-based work. This approach involves identifying related courses that would be embedded in or affiliated with a lab, as well as core research themes and streams, and possible activities, projects, and products. We will work with all interested departments to develop brief proposals that address why this opportunity would be good for your department, faculty and students. Collaboration with faculty in a separate department is welcome, but is not required.

How to Apply

Familiarize yourself with Duke Humanities labs in Humanities Unbounded and FHI.

Contact humanitiesunbounded@duke.edu to begin a conversation about your ideas as soon as possible.


  • All Duke faculty are eligible to participate in a humanities lab. Each lab proposal must include at least one tenured faculty member and have the support of the Department Chair of each lab convener. Two to four conveners are recommended.
  • The lab opportunity can be for a single department or can represent a partnership between two departments or a department and an interdisciplinary institute, initiative, or center. It can be a new undertaking, or can grow from work already taking place in or across departments (such as reading groups or research clusters).
  • Each department can submit only one proposal per year; it is important that the department as a whole is supportive of the idea, even though not all members of the department may be participating. 
  • Departments where there are current labs on Humanities Unbounded funding are asked to not apply for a second lab at this time as we want to make the opportunity available as widely as possible. 
  • Faculty members in departments where there are current labs, but who themselves are not part of the lab team, can participate in labs proposed by a different department.


Each lab will have funding to support a graduate assistant at the rate of $6,000 per semester (plus fringe) and will have operating funds in the $25,000 - $30,000 range, based on a proposed budget. Humanities Unbounded has a dedicated staff assistant to support the labs so as to reduce the impact on departmental staff. Space, equipment, and furnishing for the labs will be arranged according to the needs of the departments proposing and in consultation with Arts & Sciences Facilities Management and Trinity Technology Services.

We anticipate offering opportunities for two additional new labs each year through 2021-22.