Humanities Col(LAB)oratives – Application Instructions

Deadline: Tuesday, February 13, 2024 11:59pm


This program, funded by a NEH Challenge Grant, Advancing Research Collaboration in the Humanities, offers faculty in the humanities, humanities-oriented social sciences, and fine arts the opportunity to work collaboratively through a 3-year long Humanities Col(LAB)orative organized around a central humanistic theme or topic. A LAB can receive up to $30,000 per year, for a maximum of $90,000 over a three-year period, contingent on successful annual reviews by Hall Center leadership. This competition will run once every three years.

Traditionally, humanities research has been dominated by a single scholar mode instead of a laboratory model for research production. The latter is inherently collaborative, interdisciplinary, and involves faculty and students in the research process. The Humanities Col(LAB)oratives program will employ a laboratory model to support cooperative, interdisciplinary humanities-oriented research on a core theme/topic that involves faculty at all levels, graduate students, undergraduate students, and where appropriate, staff and postdoctoral fellows.

The goals of a LAB should be:

  • To engage researchers at all career levels on a topic of humanistic significance
  • To model new forms of collaboration in humanities research
  • To demonstrate the impact that integrated research can have on undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities
  • To produce new research methods, forms of inquiry, dissemination models, and/or scholarly and wider community engagement models in humanities research

All LAB participants will serve as mentors and collaborators for others in the group, and each will actively participate in the research process. While the overall research mission of the LAB must be humanistic in nature, LAB participants can be from any discipline. The LABs will serve as models for how collaborative humanistic research can contribute to our understanding of topics that are of scholarly and/or public concern and demonstrate how mentored, intergenerational research can be implemented in the humanities.

LABs are encouraged to partner with other campus units to achieve the research goals. For example, LABs that have a digital humanities component are encouraged to collaborate with the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities (IDRH); LABs concerned with community outreach and engagement might engage with the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. Activities with other campus units can be part of core LAB activities or complementary programming; incorporating a plan for such partnerships will strengthen an application.

DEADLINE: February 12, 2024 at 11:59pm


At least one KU tenure-track faculty member in a humanities-oriented discipline must serve as the LAB director. Multiple co-directors are acceptable.

The LAB must be oriented around a topic, theme, or question of relevance to the humanities. The theme must lend itself to interdisciplinary exploration and have the potential to engage students, faculty, and staff at KU.

Each LAB must include the following categories of participants:

  • Faculty at KU
  • Graduate students at KU
  • Undergraduate students at KU

LABs may also include KU staff, postdoctoral fellows, or partners outside of KU, as appropriate. LAB membership should reflect a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The number of participants and scope of the topic should be sufficient to create interdisciplinary scholarship by all participants and meet the LAB program goals but not so large as to be cumbersome and exceed the funding level. The number of participants must be justified by the LAB co-director(s).

While this list is not exhaustive, expected expenditures for a LAB consist of:

  • Summer salary or course buy-outs for faculty
  • Student hourly or GRA/UGRA appointments for graduate and undergraduate student participants
  • Travel
  • Supplies and materials purchase
  • Collaborator/consultant fees for non-KU employees involved in the LAB

While the core activity of a LAB will be research-oriented, we recognize the importance of teaching to both developing faculty research and engaging students in the research process. Therefore, LAB activities may include teaching elements, so long as the research impact of teaching activities is described in the application.

The application process requires the submission of annual benchmarks for the 3-year funding period of each LAB. Director(s) are required to submit progress reports to the Hall Center each year, detailing that benchmarks have been achieved, explaining if benchmarks have been altered, and describing what the next year will entail. Continued funding of the LAB is contingent upon submission and approval of these reports.

Applicants for LABs may work with the Hall Center's Research and Grant Development Office to develop their proposals and are encouraged to contact RGDO staff for assistance. The level of assistance applicants will receive is based upon beginning to work with RGDO staff a minimum of 8 weeks before the application is due.

For resources and information useful to the development of LAB applications, as well as proposals in response to other competitions, visit:

APPLICATION PROCESSAll application materials must be submitted through the Hall Center Competitions Portal. Paper submissions will not be accepted.  For an application to be verified as complete, applicants must:

1. Create an account or log in to an existing account.

2. Select the Apply Now button next to this competition. 

3. Complete the Applicant Information form in the Portal. The applicant must be the Director or one of the co-directors of the LAB.

NOTE: The demographic questions in the application form are optional. We would appreciate your responses as they allow us to chart demographic data and better comprehend the communities we reach and serve through this competition and award program. This information will not be used for determining awards. 

4. Complete the Budget and Justification form in the Portal.  Please see Budget Notes at the end of this section.

5. Upload the following materials as 3 separate PDF or Word files:

  • 2-page CV for each confirmed LAB participant. Ensure that the CV for each participant defines their status (faculty, staff, graduate student, undergraduate student, etc.). Upload as a single file.
  • 10-page narrative, double-spaced, that describes the following:
  • Core topic or theme of the proposed LAB and its importance to the humanities in general and public discourse;
  • Detailed goals and benchmarks for the LAB over the 3-year funding period, broken down by year;
  • Description of any events, workshops, activities, or courses related to the LAB topic;
  • Description of confirmed LAB participants and justification for their participation, including the credentials of the LAB director(s) to undertake the project objectives. If certain participants are not confirmed, for example undergraduates, as this is contingent upon a research course enrollment or other circumstance, please explain the type of participants who will fill those roles and how those participants will be identified;
  • Dissemination plans of research produced within the LAB and sustainability plans past the 3-year funding period, if applicable.
  • 3-page double-spaced research mentoring plan, detailing how all faculty, staff (if applicable), postdocs (if applicable), and students will work together to create mentored, intergenerational research that benefits each individual and the overall mission of the LAB.

Please note: The Portal's Budget and Justification form will require that you provide specific details of the planned expenditures and justifications for how the requested funding will be used to advance the project. Please calculate the budget for the full 3-year funding period, breaking down expenditures by year in the justification section.

Allowable budget categories are:

1. Salary, Wages, Fringe, and Course Buy-out:  Faculty or Staff Salary. Applicants can request summer salary for KU faculty participants. The amount of summer salary requested is not to exceed the equivalent of two months of academic year salary per KU investigator. Academic year salary for faculty is not allowed. Staff who have significant duties related to the LAB may have a portion of their 12-month salary bought out by LAB funds (this includes postdoctoral fellows). Students appointed as official research assistants (GRA or UGRA) will be considered salaried participants. Include tuition payments for research assistants, if applicable.

Hourly Wages. Applicants can request hourly compensation for KU students throughout the calendar year.

Fringe Benefits. Calculate fringe for faculty at 28% and for graduate students at 7% of requested salary.

Course Buy-out. Faculty or academic teaching staff may buy out academic year courses. This should be calculated based on the College's course buy-out structure. (See:

2. Consultant Fees: Any non-KU participant in the LAB is considered a consultant. If requesting funds to pay consultants, be prepared to summarize what each consultant will do and how that work will advance the collaborative project.

3. Travel: Travel expenses may be paid for both KU and non-KU collaborators.  In the Justification, be prepared to explain how the proposed travel will advance the collaborative research project.

4. Supplies and Materials: Applicants should list all supplies and materials for which funding is being requested.  In the Justification, be prepared to explain why these supplies and materials are needed to advance the collaborative research project.

5. Other Costs: In the Justification, be prepared to explain why these items are needed to advance the collaborative research project.


The Hall Center Director appoints an interdisciplinary panel of KU faculty with successful grant and publishing track records to select awardees.  All applicants can access feedback from the selection committee via the online competition portal following the conclusion of the competition.  


Recommendations for funding will be based on the following criteria:

  • Significance of the contribution the LAB will make to humanistic scholarship;
  • Appropriateness of theme to a LAB research model;
  • Quality of conception and definition of the LAB's theme;
  • Potential for the LAB to serve as a model for collaborative research in the humanities that includes scholars at all levels;
  • Potential for the LAB to produce new research methods, forms of inquiry, dissemination models, and/or community engagement models in humanities research;
  • Likelihood that 3 years of funding will produce significant results for both individual researchers and for the LAB as a collaborative;
  • Importance of the LAB's intended outcomes;
  • Impact of the LAB's activities on undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities;
  • Evidence that all LAB participants are strongly committed to the project.


Applicants should direct all questions about the Humanities Col(LAB)orative Program to Assistant Director Andrew Hodgson (