The “Life of a Lab” roundtable will bring together lab leadership from six different institutions to give a cross-sectional view of DH Labs and the salient and transient concerns they face as they develop from embryonic to established. The labs vary widely in many aspects including their lifespans, funding structures, physical spaces (or lack thereof), pedagogical models, intellectual and project foci, and target audiences. We hope this will allow all attendees to find something useful in the session.
One of the major issues we will discuss is funding. Some of the labs are internally funded, others are grant funded, and several are unfunded or provisionally funded as yet. We will discuss the ways different funding models affect the ability of the labs to define and accomplish goals, find both literal and metaphorical space on campus, and serve their communities. One of the lab leaders, whose lab largely runs through a grant, will think about the advantages and disadvantages of being grant-funded and, therefore, largely uninstitutionalized.
The represented labs developed out of and serve a variety of disciplinary and pedagogical formations. We will discuss the effect this has on the programming, research, and infrastructure of the different institutions, and how the varying concerns of different labs intersect with overarching strategies for funding, leadership, and space. Additionally, we will talk about the ways these labs incorporate workers (student and otherwise) into their missions, and how they seek to both replicate and break out of their traditional pedagogical and methodological discourses.
Of course, strategies that work at one school may not translate to another, so we have included centers from a diverse slate of institutions: technical and liberal arts, state and private, large and small, and of varying levels and different kinds of sociocultural diversity. Several of the labs exist, willingly or unwillingly, outside what might be considered traditional humanities lab models. A leader at a prominent lab will grapple with the ways the established physical space of his lab influences student outreach and development while another participant, working to establish a brand new lab, challenges the necessity and desirability of a separate department and central space in the first place. Several panel participants from technical schools will think through the issues of developing a DH center at an institution dominated by STEM, while another will will discuss some of the challenges of bringing together research communities that identify as pursuing digital humanities, digital scholarship, and computational social science. The final panelist will discuss opportunities for redefining his lab's space and identity through a variety of pop-up and pilot labs.
Ultimately, this roundtable will not be about providing answers for the attendees, though all of the participants have been involved in the implementation of a variety of solutions in their roles in lab leadership. Rather, we hope to have a conversation in which we and the audience can think through the infinite intricacies of developing sustainable, diverse, and intellectually robust spaces for dh in the academy.