What is MiddLab?

One way to unite the many schools and scholars that make up the Middlebury universe is to locate content channels that cross institutional boundaries.

It may be difficult for a visitor to Middlebury's site to grasp the relationship between Monterey and Middlebury, or to figure out what Midd is doing in Oakland. But let's talk for a second about France.

Consider the pervasiveness of language study and area studies throughout the Midd universe. How many different institutions at Midd contain faculty, students and staff who work with French, France, and the Francophone world? Between language studies, literature, summer schools, study abroad, and international students, we're talking about a pretty large group of individuals that cuts across all of Middlebury's institutions. Creating a channel to which they can all contribute will make it possible for site visitors to see these connections organically, and not simply by virtue of the explanation of an org chart.

First, there are several scholars working at Midd right now on topics related to the terroir of Vermont maple syrup. Topics investigated range from the relationship from soil types and maple syrup flavors, and how producers might communicate those differences to consumers; to relationships between sap/
syrup chemistry and the bedrock type underlying the sugarbush. We think a Maple Syrup Blog might expose some of this fascinating (and geeky) work to a wider audience, while reinforcing a sense of place and some of Midd's most fundamental themes. The same approach might be taken with any number of other unifying concepts around campus, such as Romance (romantic comedy film studies, English literature, student health) or Sustainability  (environmental studies, economics, facilities, Midd's wind

There are many ways of organizing this sort of content. The one we propose here is called MiddLab.

We see MiddLab as a way to draw together essentially every kind of activity that takes place in a lab- from the biology labs in Bicentennial Hall to the language labs in Monterey. The best way to think of MiddLab is as a cross-instutional, cross-disciplinary, research-driven Web publication that will bring together research from throughout Middlebury and present it in a thoughtfully organized, compellingly connected way.

MiddLab is the broadest strategic recommendation we've developed, with potentially the largest implications for the future of content at Midd.

- White Whale Web Services, May 2009