Rice faculty encouraged to apply for digital humanities projects grants

Librarians and faculty from Rice University, George Washington University, Davidson College and Prairie View A&M University are partnering on a two-year, $500,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant that will enable them to award competitive jump-start grants of $5,000 to member-institution faculty pursuing digital humanities projects.

Rice's Lisa Spiro, left, and Melissa Bailar are co-principal investigators on the “Resilient Networks to Support Inclusive Digital Humanities” grant. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

Rice’s Lisa Spiro, left, and Melissa Bailar are co-principal investigators on the “Resilient Networks to Support Inclusive Digital Humanities” grant. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

The initiative resonates with several Rice strategic initiatives, according to Rice co-principal investigators Melissa Bailar and Lisa Spiro, including facilitating interinstitutional collaboration, creating opportunities for undergraduates to work on substantial research projects in collaboration with faculty and graduate students and promoting digital humanities. The deadline to apply for the first round of grants in “Resilient Networks to Support Inclusive Digital Humanities” is Oct. 14.

“There is growing appreciation for the significance of digital methods to areas of humanistic inquiry as well as to the importance of developing a critical understanding of the impact of the digital on culture,” said Spiro, executive director of digital scholarship services at Fondren Library. “We see these opportunities for research coming out of the growth of digital humanities.”

The jump-start grants are awarded as stipends or research accounts (depending on stipulations of the member institutions) to faculty who are developing projects that would benefit from the expertise of a network of digital humanities faculty, librarians and students. Awarded faculty will be expected to lead at least one workshop session. Each awarded project will also receive support for two students to work on the project at a later date, though the students may be at a member institution different from that of the faculty. The projects will be matched with librarians from member institutions and are expected to share findings, methodology, data and any software developed as part of the award, according to the application requirements.

“We’ve seen this uptick in digital humanities research going on because there are more resources available,” said Bailar, associate director of the School of Humanities’ Humanities Research Center and professor in the practice of humanities. “It used to be that is was very hard in the humanities to secure the kind of funding necessary to hire programmers or seek out expertise located at other institutions. Now we’ve seen a recognition of the value of that kind of work.”

Full-time tenured, nontenured and nontenure-track faculty with continuing appointments at the member institutions are eligible to apply. The grants are geared toward faculty in the humanities or faculty engaged in humanistic research broadly construed.

The Mellon grant will also provide funding for faculty to receive training and for graduate students to receive stipends to work on digital humanities projects as well as to host related events at Rice, Bailar said.

The collaboration with George Washington University and the other institutions grew out of Bailar and Spiro’s relationship with Geneva Henry, dean of libraries and academic innovation at George Washington, who previously served as executive director of digital scholarship services at Fondren Library.

For more information and to apply for a jump-start grant, go to http://library.gwu.edu/resilient-networks/jump-start-packages.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.