Penn receives $7 million gift to create Price Lab for Digital Humanities

It’s an exciting time for digital humanities studies at Penn. The School of Arts & Sciences (SAS) has announced plans to establish a new research lab dedicated to the emerging field.

Funded by a generous $7 million gift from alumnus and SAS Overseer Michael J. Price and his wife, Vikki, the Price Lab for Digital Humanities will be the centerpiece of the “Humanities in the Digital Age” initiative of SAS’s recently released strategic plan, and will provide the technological hardware and technical support staff necessary for a robust program that reaches across the University.

Penn is already active in the emerging field of digital humanities—the term used to describe the humanities discipline employing digital and computer technology to transform the way that we get information and how humanists work.

Faculty and students at the University are digitizing rare manuscripts and making them available to a wider audience. They are also using digital illustrations to render computer drawings of archaeological objects from dig sites, doing cutting-edge research using geographical information systems, interactive maps, 3-D technologies, and more.

The Price Lab will support a wide range of innovative research projects in history, arts, and culture. It will be a hub for communication across departments, centers, and schools at Penn and with other universities and institutions, and provide the infrastructure, technology, and technical support researchers need to evaluate and incubate complex interdisciplinary scholarship.

James English, the John Welsh Centennial Professor of English and director of the Penn Humanities Forum, says the Price gift “moves Penn immediately into a position of consequence in the digital humanities.” English expanded the Penn Humanities Forum three years ago with the launch of the Digital Humanities Forum, which explores new techniques reshaping the humanities.

“We already have extraordinary assets on campus, including some brilliant scholars with major digital projects underway,” he says. “The Price Lab gives us the resources to coordinate the various vectors of existing digital humanities research to support major new initiatives, and to launch innovative new curricular and fellowship programs. We are already moving forward on all fronts.”  

The Price Lab will facilitate collaborations with the Penn Libraries; the Penn Museum; the Digital Media Design program in the School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Center for Visualization of Digital Information; the Penn Institute for Computational Science; Penn Medicine’s Cartographic Modeling Lab; and SAS's Linguistic Data Consortium.

Digital Humanities