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Wayne State research group awarded $60,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-up Grant for digital storytelling project

April 21, 2014
Project Leaders Felecia Lucht, Krysta Ryzewski, Julie Koehler, Sangeetha Gopalakrishnan, Alina Klin
and Laura Kline 

A six-member interdisciplinary Wayne State University research group with expertise in language, literature, anthropology and instructional technology has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Digital Humanities Start-up Grant for its project, Ethnic Layers of Detroit: Experiencing Place through Digital Storytelling. The group received the award maximum of $60,000 to support 18 months of digital humanities research and development.

NEH Digital Humanities Start-up grants are awarded to support innovative projects that contribute to the implementation of digital technologies in humanities research and teaching. The 2014 funding cycle was highly competitive and only 12 percent of submitted proposals were successful. This is the second NEH Digital Humanities grant received by Wayne State faculty; the first was received in 2008. 

“It's a major accomplishment for this interdisciplinary Humanities Center Working Group to have been awarded a fully funded NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant,” said WSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Senior Associate Dean Donald Haase. “This is not only a real boost to the innovative Ethnic Layers of Detroit Project, but also an excellent example of WSU Humanities faculty identifying, applying for and receiving significant federal funding.”

The project is a student-centered initiative that will focus on documenting the overlapping layers of ethnic and cultural histories in the city’s downtown neighborhoods through the integration of humanities research, digital media and mobile technologies. Funds will be used to hire advanced WSU students to assist with the creation of multimedia narratives related to downtown cultural heritage sites over the 18-month funding period. 

The project’s output will be a collection of digital community stories publicly available via a free mobile and multimedia web portal. As an interactive and digital mode of engagement, the geolocational aspect of the project will allow mobile users to learn about Detroit’s cultural history at places where they can explore virtually the connections between peoples, practices and the urban-built environment. 

As a pedagogical tool, the project will be integrated into research and experientially based learning activities in several WSU classes taught by the research team leaders. 

The resulting digital stories will act as a platform to engage students and the wider public with the fabric of community lives that comprise the colorful, dynamic history of Detroit. 

Project Leaders: 

Sangeetha Gopalakrishnan, Foreign Language Technology Center, NEH co-principal investigator
Alina Klin, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (Polish); NEH project co-director
Laura Kline, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (Russian); NEH project co-director
Julie Koehler, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (German); NEH project student assistant
Felecia Lucht, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (German); NEH co-principal investigator
Krysta Ryzewski, Department of Anthropology, NEH principal investigator

A complete list of NEH grant recipients is available here

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.

  • Contact: Rasheda K. Williams
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  • Email: rasheda.williams@wayne.edu
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