Short for “humanities lab,” h.lab is dedicated to providing humanities students and scholars with hands-on access to new and emerging computational technologies in order to foster technological innovation in the humanities while also empowering substantive, informed public engagement concerning the ethical and existential implications of these new technologies.
New computational tools and methods are radically altering education and scholarship in the humanities and in higher education generally. The future of the university is more open than it has been in centuries. At the same time, because most scholars in the humanities lack hands-on experience with these emerging technologies, we are missing opportunities to make our own research come alive in new ways and to contribute meaningfully to public conversations about the future of technology and what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world. If we want to participate meaningfully in the discovery — indeed the invention — of the future of the humanities, we must embrace new forms of scholarship focused on technological experimentation and creative design.
Humanists face challenges to engaging these new tools. There is still pressure in many corners of the academy to stick with traditional media technologies and methods of research and publication. At the same time, these new tools can be very difficult to learn and adapt to humanities research; most are highly specialized, math- and programming-intensive, and oriented toward commercial markets.
We must find creative ways to provide scholars and students in the humanities with both access to these new tools and opportunities to experiment with them -- to learn by doing. This is not only the most effective way to bring real technological innovation to the academic humanities but also the most meaningful way for scholars in the humanities to contribute to public discourse concerning the ethical and existential implications of these new technologies.
H.lab is a initiative of the College of Arts and Sciences of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. It is both local and distributed: on the one hand, serving students and faculty of its college and university; on the other hand, connecting and collaborating with colleagues around the world.