Digital Innovation Lab to be involved in new Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative

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Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative expanded with Mellon grant

A $1.39 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will expand digital humanities in a transformative way at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including the hiring of new faculty and the support of graduate students in this emerging field.

Digital humanities is an area of research, teaching and knowledge creation at the intersection of computing and humanities. It is interdisciplinary and embraces a variety of topics, ranging from curating online collections to mining information from large data sets.

The grant will help UNC create the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, a $5 million effort that will explore the application of cutting-edge digital technologies to humanities research, teaching, graduate training and public engagement.

The new initiative will build on the work of the Digital Innovation Lab, co-directed by Robert Allen, James Logan Godfrey Professor of American Studies, and Richard Marciano, professor in the School of Information and Library Science. The lab was launched last summer in the College of Arts and Sciences and is affiliated with the college’s American studies department. Marciano will head the initiative’s infrastructure taskforce.

Among other things, the new Mellon grant will help support the following in digital humanities:

  •    Targeted hiring of three tenure-track faculty members;
  •     Joint faculty fellowships with the Digital Innovation Lab and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities;
  •     Graduate and postdoctoral fellowships;
  •     Grants for developing new courses;
  •     Workshops for faculty and graduate students;
  •     A graduate certificate for Ph.D. students.; and
  •     Exploration of an undergraduate minor in data studies.

“Digital humanities is not just about individual scholars using computers in their research,” Allen said. “It represents a potentially transformative change across all the ways we work as academics: from the questions we ask, to the kinds of people we work with; from the ways we communicate knowledge to our peers and our students, to the ways we relate to the world beyond the University.”

UNC’s 2011 Academic Plan calls for a renewed investment in both interdisciplinary research and engaged scholarship that benefits the public good. The Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative also supports the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, UNC’s plan to help Carolina become a world leader in launching University-born ideas for the good of society.

For a story on the creation of the Digital Innovation Lab, and examples of ongoing projects, visit and “Going to the Show,” a digital humanities collaboration between Allen and UNC’s Wilson Library, was awarded the 2011 American Historical Association’s Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History.

College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr, (919) 962-4093,

Originally published at UNC News. Additional reporting of this announcement can be found at: