Although academia often brings to mind ivory towers, silos, and depth without breadth, most of us actually flourish when we have a chance to exchange ideas. A research community takes shape when colleagues have a chance to gather in conversation-conducive, trust-affirming spaces over the course of several meetings. A research community allows ideas to float and reflections to resound, resulting in serious and sustained study and deliberation. The members of research communities experiment in co-creation, whether through collaborative writing, editorial projects, commentary on works-in-progress, shared mentoring of and engagement with graduate students, or co-hosting visitors and events.
The Humanities Commons aims to support research communities by funding research residencies around announced themes, by supporting research clusters around faculty-directed interests, by organizing working groups that address common challenges across the humanities, and by providing collaboration spaces for informal meetings.
Research Residency Program
Research residencies convene a group of faculty to work together on an area of shared concern that contributes to larger conversations in the School of Humanities. Annual residency topics are selected by the Humanities Commons in consultation with the Dean and the Advisory Board and are linked to other ongoing pedagogical or public projects that draw a substantial cross-section of the School together around a common theme.
The current research residency program, under the direction of Professor Carol Burke, addresses war, which is also the topic of the current cycle of the Humanities Core Course, UCI’s freshman humanities program. The War Research Residency aims to create synergy and build connectivity among faculty research, general education, and graduate training in the School of Humanities. Future residencies might pursue project-based work around a theme such as desert culture and ecology, with an emphasis on building partnerships across campus and with institutions in the region. We plan to announce a new residency program for 2015-16 in the spring of 2015.
Research Clusters allow several groups of faculty from multiple departments to define focused areas for sustained study and then apply for funding and meeting space. More lightly structured than Residencies, the Clusters aim to foster a range of new ideas throughout the School, wherever they might be taking shape. Cluster funding through the Humanities Commons can be used for lunch meetings, to bring in a speaker, or to supplement a conference.
Identifying subfields and research questions that do not belong to a particular department, Clusters encourage new groupings that may grow into longer-term partnerships or provide briefer bursts of inspiration and pollination. The first research cluster cohort, funded in 2014, includes Creative Economies, Early Cultures, Geographies of Conflict and Intervention: Feminist Approaches to Humanitarianism in Transnational Contexts, Late 19th c US History and Literature, Latin American Studies: Across the Hemispheres, Queer Media | Queer Approximations, Science, Technology and Race (STAR), South Asia and the World: Global Histories, and Local Texts and the Transformative Logic of Capital.
Like residencies, the topics for working groups are set by the School. Working groups, however, are focused on developing and evaluating new tools of research and dissemination rather than pursuing particular research themes or areas.
Future working groups might address humanities advocacy, alt-ac scenario analysis, public humanities and civic engagement, and trends and impasses in academic publishing. Whatever their focus, Working Groups address proactively and with a sense of inventiveness the challenges facing the humanities in the twenty-first century. Working Groups aim to fashion practical solutions for emerging problems while also making critical sense of the changing humanities landscape. Outcomes might include white papers and policy recommendations. If you are interested in helping the Common develop a particular area, please let us know.
Formal and informal research groups can sign up to use one of the Commons meeting rooms. HG1309 and HG1311, facing directly onto the Gateway courtyard, are dedicated Collaboration Spaces. Each room is equipped with an oval table, white boards, large easel notepads, markers, countertop space, and 6 chairs. HG 1311 has a telephone that can be used for conference calls.
In addition, the Humanities Commons Library (HG1012), furnished with couches, easy chairs, a coffee table, and a small meeting table with chairs, is available for gatherings (up to 8 people) that would benefit from a parlor setting (from parloir, to speak).