Goucher College receives National Endowment for the Humanities grant
Goucher College will create the Collaborative Humanities Laboratory to enhance the study of visual, material, and historical culture using a $149,961 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant. Goucher was one of only five institutions nationwide to receive a grant from the NEH’s Humanities Initiatives at Colleges and Universities.
Goucher College will create the Collaborative Humanities Laboratory to enhance the study of visual, material, and historical culture using a $149,961 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant. The laboratory will be a physical and virtual storytelling space where students across disciplines gather, curate, produce, and present original scholarship centered on images, objects, and artifacts. The NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Goucher was one of only five institutions nationwide to receive a grant from their Humanities Initiatives at Colleges and Universities, and this is the first major NEH grant for Goucher in 20 years.
The college’s Art and Artifacts Collection and the Special Collections and Archives materials, which include manuscripts, rare books, and artifacts, will be used for the applied, object-centered research that will take place both in a physical lab as well as in an online format. Additionally, through an ongoing archaeological excavation of artifacts found on the college campus, the Hallowed Ground Project will investigate the untold stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the land prior to the college’s existence.
“I am absolutely thrilled that we will have the opportunity to embark on what has, until now, been a much-discussed vision: to engage our students in hands-on work with Goucher’s extraordinary collections through student-curated exhibitions in the Collaborative Humanities Lab,” says April Oettinger, professor of art history and visual culture. Oettinger is also the director of the Visual and Material Culture Program and the director of the Sweren Wogan Institute for the Study of the Book at Goucher College. “This innovative project will enhance the study of the humanities at Goucher through object-based, experiential learning.”
The Collaborative Humanities Laboratory aims to engage students in telling the stories of objects and to share these stories with the broader community. As a physical and online space that enhances student learning by exploring found objects, the laboratory aims to advance humanities at the college and foster a dialogue with the greater Baltimore community and the wider world.
“This prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities grant underscores the academic excellence Goucher is known for and will help support the interdisciplinary, hands-on, collaborative research that our students experience with faculty and other scholars,” says Kent Devereaux, Goucher College president. “The laboratory also offers a distinct opportunity for Goucher to create a space for digital scholarship in the humanities that will be shared with a larger community online.”
The Collaborative Humanities Laboratory will provide a physical and online space for faculty, staff, and students to connect with Goucher’s interdisciplinary curriculum. The project is closely tied to the new visual and material culture major, which brings together art history and preservation to examine the role of images, objects, architecture, and the built environment not only as reflections of history but also as agents that make history.
This is not the first time that Goucher College housed a curated collection of artifacts. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Goucher College, then known as the Woman’s College of Baltimore, was home to a prominent museum that contained nearly 100,000 objects, including numerous natural history specimens, a wide range of ethnographic artifacts, art objects, and historical books, as well as two Egyptian mummies.
For more information on the Visual and Material Culture Program at Goucher, visit https://www.goucher.edu/learn/undergraduate-programs/visual-and-material-culture/.