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HASTAC III: Foundations Funding Panel

As it turns out, I was never trained as a journalist...and it's showing, as my turn around time for blogging is one week rather than two hours. What can I say? Liveblogging is not my thing. All those disclaimers aside, the panel I signed up to cover on that second day of the HASTAC conference considered a lot of information that is well worth thinking about after the conference has officially ended. The participants of "Show Me the Money": Foundations Funding Panel gave very helpful and informative accounts of their foundations and their processes of funding projects.

Melanie Loots moderated the panel and it began with Jennifer Serventi from the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Serventi talked about the different types of grants that the Office of Digital Humanities offers, while also providing examples of past winners. She explained that the goal of the office is to make explicit the work of funded projects, publicizing their successes, but also paying mind to their failures - as obviously both are instructive.

Serventi described the various types of grant programs offered by the Office: Start-Up Grants, Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grants, Digging into Data, and Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities. She talked about past projects, including: Crowded Page, InPho, History Browser, Electric Broadway and Ashes 2 Art. Serventi revealed that the funding ratio is 10% as the bar is high for all approaches to scholarship, but it's important to keep in mind that NEH is not the only funder. NEH actually collaborates with some of these other funders for some of the grants listed above.  These categories and their processes are elaborated on in more detail in Serventi's slides, which she has been nice enough to let me host on Slideshare for this blog post, check it out here. The Office of Digital Humanities will be announcing its new awardees in the first week of June.


Next, the inimitable Cathy Davidson  talked about the Digital Media Learning competition, administered by HASTAC and supported by the MacArthur Foundation through an initiative launched in 2006. The 2009 awardees were recently announced (Ramsey's blog provides a great account of the events)! Davidson told the story of HASTAC's beginnings, which involved David Theo Goldberg and Davidson bonding over their similar responses during a traditional humanities conference, in which technology was posed as a horrible problem and threat. Started from that meeting in 2003, HASTAC knows that the issues that scientists face are far too big to leave only to scientists. Now with the DML competition, projects following along in this spirit, with very diverse approaches and interpretations, are being funded and rewarded. The topic for the next competition will be released in mid-August and applications will be due mid-October.

The next presenter was Camilo Acosta, talking about the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). CRUSA is a private, independent, non-political and non-profit Costa Rican foundation that funds projects that aim towards the development of Costa Rica. Acosta told a history of how CRUSA was founded and under what conditions. As USAID withdrew from Costa Rica in 1996, there was a need to create a new model and also to collaborate between these two nations, along with the elements left behind by USAID. Since then, CRUSA funds have increased against the odds and the foundation has evolved, changing its models of funding. CRUSA has now partnered with Amigos of Costa Rica and continues to fund initiatives taking place in Costa Rica.

During the Q&A session, Liz Dorland joined the panelists in fielding questions about funding resources. Issues that came up included the Humanities Resource Center Online, the importance of resubmitting and good writing for a successful application, not taking criticism too personally, not standing out in a pool for the wrong reasons, and making proposals that are most suited to a grant's prompt and its aims.

The session was ended with Dorland showing an in-depth tour of how to search for past NSF awards on the NSF website. The Report of the NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning released in June of last year was also suggested as some helpful reading.  


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