Inside Sussex Humanities Lab

So it has been a month since I joined the University of Sussex and the question I keep getting asked is ‘what is the Sussex Humanities Lab?’ And I don’t think I’ve all that useful in helping people understand it because I keep giving different answers every time I’m asked the question, so here is an attempt to pull those answers together and to provide an inside look into what is proving a super place to work.

So, first, the official line (borrowed from our website):

Our vision is to ensure that information scientists and literary theorists, media scholars, designers, and practitioners, social scientists and historians, collaborate to serve the fundamental roles of humanities research – to explore the human condition and its evolution, and the social and material worlds we make. We wish to make the humanities fit for purpose in a digital age.

Second, and probably more importantly, the Sussex Humanities Lab is about people. Lots of people. We have a director and co-directors from media, history, performance, and social science. We have a project manager. We have core associates from informatics and the library. We have six faculty (including me!) and six research fellows hanging off from that (including one in the library, which I’m super pleased about!). We have a bunch of funded doctoral students. And we have a whole host of other associates and interested parties. And most of us have started at the same time, many of us coming from other places. That is, twenty odd people around the table trying to find common ground, combine skills and experience, and make better research.

On that table, the third thing the Sussex Humanities Lab is is a space that ties together all these people dotted around campus. In and around that space we have a plaque…

IMG_20151002_083723Walls, a table, chairs, and a blank canvas (that always makes me think ‘Dentist’, but hey)…

IMG_20151002_083753A kettle you can set the temperature of (good for tea nerds)…

IMG_20151002_083933Coffee…

IMG_20151002_084043Some kit…

IMG_20151002_084015Some more fancy looking kit that I presume will become interesting/useful later…

IMG_20151002_084031Some tools to make physical things with…

IMG_20151002_084126The obligatory stack of wires, lights, and humming…

IMG_20151002_083951Swag…

IMG_20151002_084103A little library…

IMG_20151002_084201A fancy audio-visual-server stuff (including, a lighting rig that can programmed to do stuff, a 4k TV, a PS4, a sub-net).

IMG_20151002_084242And a welcome slice of outdoors…

IMG_20151002_083805

Which is all to say that the Sussex Humanities Lab is many things: it is an ambitious vision, it is a bunch of great people, and it is a space to meet, work, and be creative in. Which I happen to think is pretty awesome.

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