The Public Humanities Labs Initiative is a scholarly and pedagogical project that aims to integrate Humanities skills and expertise into public facing and/or community curated projects addressing topics of cultural, social, and intellectual importance.

A student writes with a feather pen and ink.

These projects may involve storytelling, oral history, historical analysis, public writing, digital humanities, ethical inquiry, medical humanities, archival work, and many other areas of knowledge.

Public Humanities in the News

Rebecca Bennette
(Credit: Seven Days Magazine )

Professor of History Rebecca Bennette was featured in a September 2023 Seven Day’s article, A Middlebury College Professor Uses Graphic Novels to Breathe New Life Into the Study of History. The article highlights Bennette’s efforts to make history more accessible and relevant for today’s students—and how the general public can benefit.

Current Projects

As practitioners of public humanities, students experiment with different forms of public scholarship designed to translate their intellectual output to a broader community beyond the classroom. In doing so, they learn to combine serious intellectual rigor with commitment to civic awareness and responsibility. Some Labs classes include the opportunity to develop students’ Humanities coursework into projects co-created with community interlocutors.

Course Overview

Students enrolled in classes with Public Humanities Laboratory will see firsthand how skills they are developing in the class can be mobilized and tested in productive new ways outside the classroom.

Projects may involve any and all of the following as students engage in work of tangible importance to their own intellectual development:

  • Mining Library Special Collections to create an exhibit or workshop about local history.
  • Collecting oral histories about immigration to Vermont.
  • Working with local museums to explore unexamined archives or create new archives.
  • Learning from journalists how to craft op-eds on issues of local and national importance.
Two women stare at propped up books.

Current Courses

From 2021 to 2024, the Public Humanities Labs Initiative at Middlebury College will operate with the help of a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc.

If you’re interested in teaching a Public Humanities Lab course, or simply learning more about this program, please contact contact Ian Barrow.

    Fall 2023

    Previous Courses

      Spring 2023

      J-term 2023

      Fall 2022

      Spring 2022

      J-term 2022

      Fall 2021

      Spring 2021