College of Arts & Letters creates Research Innovation Labs to foster and inspire interdisciplinary work 

Author: Mary Kinney

ISLA Labs Header Final

With a desire to foster interdisciplinary research and answer the world’s most pressing questions, the College of Arts & Letters has created the Research Innovation Labs. 

Curated by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA), the labs will take two forms — Humanities Research Labs and Strategic Theme Labs.

“We launched the Research Innovation Labs to create an infrastructure for exciting, groundbreaking transdisciplinary scholarship in the college, said Kate Marshall, associate dean for research and strategic initiatives and director of ISLA. “We saw an opportunity to fund groups of faculty and students who share a desire to tackle big questions in new ways.”

The Humanities Research Labs will allow researchers to ask these “big questions” as they pertain to subjects like Africana studies, American studies, history, liberal studies, philosophy, and theology.

The Strategic Theme Labs will aim to answer questions that align with the University’s campus-wide strategic themes of poverty, democracy, and ethics. This lab is open to all college disciplines.

“The University's strategic framework places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary work, and faculty in the arts, humanities, and social sciences are well positioned to be leaders in responding to that charge,” said Sarah Mustillo, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “We are committed to investing in people who want to think big about how to bridge boundaries across disciplines to address pressing problems.”

Labs must have two principal investigators within Arts & Letters, but not within the same department or program. Each lab must also have three additional collaborators, who must have affiliation within Notre Dame.

Each research lab will last for two consecutive years, and the lead faculty will be awarded two course releases, a $15,000 grant per year, and access to a new Project Studio space in the ISLA office located on the third floor of O’Shaughnessy Hall.

Proposals will be evaluated based on four criteria — interdisciplinarity, collaboration, excellence, and impact. Marshall said successful applicants will be able to show how their approach and configuration of knowledge have the potential to create something new and have a lasting societal impact.

“We are also welcoming proposals that have a strong public component to their research, and are building support structures for that work at ISLA,” she said.

Applications include a form, project narrative, list of PIs and collaborators, budgetary information, and CVs for each PI. It must be submitted through ISLA’s submittable portal by February 13, 2024. Final decisions will be announced in March.