The Digital Innovation Lab (DIL) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was officially launched by the College of Arts and Sciences in October 2011. The DIL serves as a key nexus of digital humanities activity on the campus. Although its reach and collaborations within the university extend well beyond the College of Arts and Sciences, the DIL is administratively housed within the Department of American Studies. This makes it one of the few digital humanities centers benefitting from synergies that can be realized only within an academic department: faculty research, community engagement, graduate research and training, undergraduate teaching, and curriculum development.
The Lab’s agenda is organized around three interrelated areas of concentration:
- combining the project-focused organizational model of the laboratory with the social model of the network to stimulate digital humanities work as public goods: digital projects, products, tools, and applications that are (1) of special social and cultural value, (2) can be produced for free public use (or at a minimal marginal cost), (3) are scalable, (4) are reusable and repurposable, and/or (4) serve multiple audiences/end-users within and outside of the University.
- facilitating humanistic research and community engagement with large-scale data sources, and, in the process, guiding the humanities’ transformation from enterprises predicated upon data scarcity and remoteness to those that assume data hyper-abundance and ubiquity.
- developing, testing, and documenting best-practice models for faculty and graduate student work in public humanities that integrates community engagement, digital technologies, and inter-disciplinary inquiry.
The focus of the DIL’s work aligns with a major emphasis in the university’s new academic plan on engaged scholarship and with the implementation of new promotion and tenure policies throughout the university that will take into account scholarly engagement with non-academic audiences, the use of digital technologies in research, and interdisciplinary collaborative scholarly activities.