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U-M HistoryLabs Development Fund

The Department of History invites teams of graduate students and faculty (roughly 2-4 members total) to apply for a seed grant from the U-M HistoryLabs Development Fund (DF) to forge a partnership in planning and implementing a new HistoryLab course in our department. The lead faculty member must have a budgeted appointment in the Department of History.

About U-M HistoryLabs

Our HistoryLab program is a major curricular initiative that promotes collaborative and project based experiential learning at every level, bringing together a team of U-M History faculty, graduate ,and/or undergraduate students. Labs are multi-generational, collaborative projects and can be taught at either the undergraduate or graduate levels. HistoryLabs are also designed as a central component of the department’s broader “U-M History in the Public Service” mission: to present research and scholarship through innovative platforms; to address new and broader publics both within and beyond academia; to develop creative learning environments; and to diversify our graduate and undergraduate students’ portfolios as they transition to future job searches.

What we have seen already is that HistoryLabs can provide a crucial value-added component to our more traditional modes of training, equipping our students with compelling narratives about their training and impressive finished projects that help them stand out in crowds of other applicants. The outcome of a HistoryLab may range from a digital exhibit, a physical or pop-up exhibit, a walking tour, blogs or podcasts, an electronic archive, teaching modules for your classes, a community or K-12 outreach program, or whatever else you can imagine as long as the class is conceptualized as a team-based project—with some kind of peer review, staggered deadlines, and modes of collaborative research and writing that push beyond single-authored papers.

The common features of HistoryLabs include:

  1. team-based experiential learning
  2. student-faculty research collaborations and
  3.  communicating scholarship and research findings to new audiences defined by the team

Please note, too, that we very strongly encourage projects from all geographic, thematic, and temporal fields across our large department. Any historical subfield can generate an innovative electronic archive, podcast, blog, exhibition, policy resource, or collaboration with an outside partner (e.g., a museum or public arts program). Above all, our blueprint for HistoryLabs is meant to be highly flexible, with maximum creative latitude for individual PhD students and faculty to develop their own spins on the basic concept. In order to diversify and expand this program, we will look very favorably on applications from non-US and pre-modern teams of colleagues.

Development Fund Awards

HistoryLab Development Fund grants range from $3,000 to $5,000 per project, payable directly to the graduate student collaborator(s) at an hourly rate of $22. (Unused funds return to the general HistoryLab account.) The amount of the award is contingent on whether the graduate student(s) will primarily focus on planning and course development before the semester begins, or if the graduate student(s) also will work as consultants/lab supervisors to the course itself (the full $5,000, with a limit of 10 hours per week during the semester).

The HistoryLab Development Fund is designed to provide professional development opportunities for graduate student partners and ensure the successful launch of a new HistoryLab course. On the faculty side, participation involves a commitment to collaborative mentorship of the graduate student partner(s) in building a new Lab—and, in turn, the faculty supervisor receives extended graduate student support in designing and implementing an innovative new course.

The HistoryLab Development Fund enhances graduate students’ career prospects not only by bolstering their digital and public-facing profile, cultivating technological and multimedia skills, highlighting their ability to work in collaborative environments, and learning transferrable skills that may be woven into future job applications, but also by providing them with a highly innovative course syllabus and teaching modules that can be included in a future statement of teaching philosophy and/or portfolio of classroom experiences at U-M (well beyond the usual GSI models).


Please note that an application to the HistoryLab Development Fund also serves as an official proposal to teach a new HistoryLab course in the near future (please specify a timetable). Proposals will be reviewed on a biannual basis on December 1 and March 1 by the History Administrative Team twice in consultation with the public engagement and career development coordinator. If you have questions, ideas, or concerns—or would like to share a draft application for feedback—please feel free to contact the