CIRCA:Stanford Humanities Lab


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Stanford Humanities Lab is a center for "Trans/Post-disciplinary study" located in Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. According to SHL, by ignoring and crossing the disciplinary lines, new discoveries and fascinatine new projects can emerge from this collaborative space. As the name implies, emphasis is placed on the collaborative, team-based, experimental nature of research. SHL believes that there is no other way to be a researcher in our contemporary society, since developments in biological and health sciences, digital culture and global society have pushed the nature of questions being asked in the academic sphere toward a more interconnected approach.

The SHL website also includes a list of courses that are a result of research done by the Lab or which are related to the aim of the organization. For example, Stanford students can choose from courses such as "Human and the Machine," "Digital Humanities: Literature and Technology", "History of Computer Game Design: Technology, Culture, Business" among others.



Stanford Humanities Lab is guided by the following agenda:

animating archives - regenerating, bringing to life, and fostering new modes of interaction with the storehouses of human, cultural, artistic, scientific achievement - our focus is on the question of the relationship of the human past to efforts at conservation and preservation

building bigger pictures - putting specialized in-depth research into the context of big human questions; questions, for example, of rapid social change and innovation, the ethical implications of information technology, the character of distributed digital communities, the politics of digital citizenship, the past, present, and future of intellectual property

enabling co-creative collaboration - developing successful models of teamwork, learner-centered models of training (thinking through doing), and collaborative authoring tools and processes

building bridges - establishing innovative partnerships between industry, museums, foundations, and high-level university-based research


This is an affliate program with SHL with same guiding principles as the Lab itself. It aims to explore the changing and complex relationship between humanity and technology. However, it is also able to match corporate needs with academic research. In order to do that, Standford established a set of policies regarding Industry affiliation. While private companies can pay fees ranging from $10,000 to $75,000 per year to gain access to HumanTech lab and researchers, the university clearly states that "unlike sponsored projects, Affiliate membership does not convey specific project deliverables, nor are membership fees subject to Stanford University's negotiated indirect cost rates". Therefore, HumanTech does not guarantee any specific result or product as the ultimate end to the affiliation, as it would influence the quality of work being done and put the lab in a conflict of interest.


A variety of diverse, inderdisciplinary projects have and are contue to come out of SHL. Most projects are represented in a website, links to which are found on the Lab. A selection that may be of interest to students in HuCo:

Artificial Eyes - Investigating the relationship between natural science and art in the early modern period, reconstructing observational instruments and the skills required to use them.

AsianAmericanArt - A study and interpretation of visual art production by individuals of Asian ancestry in the United States from the mid-19th century to 1965.

Berlin - Temporal Topographies :: A multimedia, web-based research project that investigates the historical and cultural layers of a city space.

Body Language - A multimedia project that investigates body language in Russian and Soviet society through the 20th century.

Court Records :: A web based research and teaching environment using court records about ordinary people and everyday disputes from Brazil and colonial Mali.

Changing All :: A new 2004-05 project focusing on ongoing changes in the grammar and function of all in conversational American English, esp. its use as an intensifier, and its use to introduce quotations.

Crowds :: A collaborative research project that examines the importance of the crowd in the modern era.

dpResearch :: A digital performance journal. (2001)

Historinet :: Developing a software system for intelligent search of a scholarly archive of digital data, representing the stream of recorded events of a personal scholarly life.

How They Got Game :: A project exploring the history and cultural impact of interactive simulations and video games.

How The West was Shaped :: Constructing a computer model to bring dynamic conceptions of space into historical research and pedagogy, starting with railroads in the 19th century North American West.

Philosophical Stages :: Experimental pedagogy at the intersection of philosophy and drama with both traditional and new media.

The Rosetta Screen :: A literary-themed artwork to be installed in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Public and University Library in San José, CA

Thinking Aloud and Looking aHEAD at Museum Learning :: A project that seeks to develop a head camera and research protocol to study how people learn in humanities museums.

Traumwerk :: A web-based collaborative authoring environment designed to explore, experimentally, some classic issues in the humanities.

Virtual Mandala :: A project located at the confluence of the historical process in which a system of thought adapts itself to another culture and the development of new technology discourse.

OPENsource Lab

Founded in 2007, this is a space to discuss, learn, share and develop open source software. Stanford also holds a regular series of workshops, such as weekly Drupal training, for example, to allow people of various skill levels to come together and share their knowledge. OPENsource Lab website also functions as a space for news and events happening around campus that relate to open source software. The organizers of OPENsource Lab hope to expand this work into other areas such as "software development, university policy work, open access publishing". Several key open source software has come out of Stanford, such as Sakai, an online collaborative learning environment, Protege, open source ontology editor and knowledge-base framework, and Open Journal Systems,,a content management system for publishing open access academic journals. Other projects include: Deme/ Lingo LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) Open Culture Blog Simbios SULinux The Stanford SRP Authentication Project

OPENsource Lab provides a directory of free, open source tools that can be useful to any researcher, including desktop applications and web publishing and collaboation tools.

Partners, sponsors, donors

The Stanford Humanities Lab enjoys "durable and wide-ranging support from, and rich collaborative relationships with", a variety of bodies and organizations both within and outside the University.


Cisco, MondoBiotech, Innovation Center Denmark, Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, DaimlerChrysler, Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), Herman Miller, Inc., The Seaver Institute, Stanford President's Fund, Stanford Office of the Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education, Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford School of Engineering, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Wallenberg Global Learning Network,


Stanford Humanities Center, SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture), HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), Institute for the Future, Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL), Stanford Media X,

Museums, Performance Spaces, Cultural Centers, and Libraries

Canadian Center for Architecture, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Krannert Art Museum (U. of Illinois, Champaign), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Stanford University Libraries, San Francisco Fine Arts Museum (De Young Museum), The Wolfsonian-FIU, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Department of Special Collections, University of Arizona Library


Stanford Humanities Lab
OPENsource Lab
Office of the Vice Provost of Research, Stanford

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