Announcing the Plant Humanities Initiative

Announcing the Plant Humanities Initiative

I couldn't be more thrilled to announce, in collaboration with Dumbarton Oaks, the Plant Humanities Initiative. This three-year project will combine scholarly programming from Dumbarton Oaks with a new research tool from JSTOR Labs to help foster the development of this exciting new academic field.

Last December, Dumbarton Oaks and JSTOR hosted a daylong workshop to discuss botany, primary sources and digitization. During the workshop, JSTOR Labs led a "design jam" to brainstorm potential ways to help plant researchers: you can see a short video of the ideas that emerged here. To get an idea which of those ideas seemed most exciting, we performed some quick paper-prototype user-testing at Columbia University's Center for Science and Society. Here are the two ideas (still very not-fleshed-out -- they're still just concepts) that, based on that user-testing, seem most exciting:

Naturalist Expeditions

Now, in collaboration with Dumbarton Oaks, and with generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we're going to take one of these concepts and make it a reality. We will select and refine the concept to build based on the input from an amazing Advisory Committee.

What's most exciting, to me, about this project, is that this new tool will be developed in close collaboration with its users. Dumbarton Oaks will host fellows whose work will include incorporating the tool into their research. (You might consider applying for these fellowships.) Taking an iterative approach and including the users in our design activities will help us to make sure that what we build is useful both for these specific researchers, and others as well.

I look forward to sharing our progress with you as we go, and most especially to sharing the tool when it's developed!