Monday, September 03, 2012

Humanities Laboratory

Something I am anxious to see happen -- perhaps as a joint venture of Public Good Project and the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) -- is a humanities laboratory, affiliated with a college or university, where people from different aspects of humanities collaborate on various genres of intentional communication. With the advent of digitally-supported knowledge production through and around institutions of higher education, scholarship as a communal endeavor affords a vast new interface between the institutional and the public. Using laboratories to apply this knowledge to social situations makes academic ideas and conversations available to the many dimensions of civil and tribal self-organizing now underway. Indeed, such endeavors are essential to activist media tomorrow.

I draw this to readers attention for the purpose of emphasizing the value of communications studies, which goes hand in hand with learning the skills of investigative research I've discussed previously. While my advanced degree is in humanities and leadership, my collaboration with investigative researchers and communications specialists has instilled in me an appreciation for these aspects of scholarly activism.

While this is a demanding task, the humanities laboratory/communications studio concept explored in the Prepared to Lead cinematic documentary proposal, as well as the archival digitization project at CWIS -- the catalysts for this plan -- demonstrate the connection between archiving and curating knowledge and its effective application. We have yet to garner any funding for either, but we hashed out the vision and strategy, and that's a start. We also went through the process of submitting a formal proposal to Sundance Institute, which is a demanding but educational protocol.

As I told my associates, sometimes good ideas need time to develop. We also discussed the benefits and challenges of collaborating with educational institutions in order to access resources we'd never likely muster on our own.

For the digitization project, I scoped out federal government grants to cover the professional services required, and the paperwork alone is daunting. My conclusion was that absent a private donor, our best bet to move forward on communications development was to explore partnering with a college or university.

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