Applications are now open for the 2023-2024 Praxis Program cohort. Applications are due March 1st, 2023. Consider spending some time with us next year!
If you’re interested in learning more about the fellowship or have questions about anything you read below, please consider attending the information session for the 2023-2024 cohort - Tuesday, January 31st, 2023 from 10:00-11:00 on Zoom. Please register to attend.
The Praxis Program is a unique and well-known training program in the international digital humanities, offered by the UVa Library’s Scholars’ Lab. This fellowship supports a team of University of Virginia PhD students each year as they explore various aspects of digital humanities together. Under the guidance of Scholars’ Lab faculty and staff, Praxis fellows conceive, develop, and share a range of digital humanities projects and activities over the course of the year. Our fellows blog about their experiences and develop increased facility with project management, collaboration, and the public humanities, even as they tackle (most for the first time, and with the mentorship of our faculty and staff) new programming languages, tools, and digital methods. Praxis aims to prepare fellows with digital methodologies to apply both to the fellowship project and their future research.
At times, Praxis teams have developed and launched specific, named projects. Our first two cohorts designed and built Prism, a digital tool for crowd-sourced humanities interpretation, visualization, and textual analysis. Our third and fourth cohorts re-imagined Ivanhoe, a WordPress theme enabling collaborative criticism through roleplay. Our fifth cohort explored sonification of humanities data with the project Clockwork. More recently, cohorts have worked on Dash-Amerikan, a social media ecology of the Kardashian family, and UVA Reveal, an augmented reality project that layers contextual information on contested public spaces on UVA’s campus, and Unclosure, a project that explores the possibilities that the public domain holds for research, pedagogy, and play. Students developed Land and Legacy, a critical history of UVA’s real estate development since the 1980’s, and Connection Established, an immersive examination of university teaching, life, and governance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, students shared Your Name Here, a project that aims to empower students with the coding skills and confidence to create a personal website that reflects who they are and what they value in public. As a part of their training with us, student cohorts have published a range of values statements. They have also designed and taught digital humanities workshops based on their own interests.
Beginning as a 2011-2013 pilot project supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to UVa Library’s Scholarly Communication Institute, the Praxis Program is now generously supported by UVa Library and GSAS. The Praxis Program is a core module of PHD+, a university-wide initiative to prepare PhD students across all disciplines for long-term career success. The work Praxis Fellows undertake over the course of their fellowship year may be submitted in partial fulfillment of the practicum requirement for UVA’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities.
The Praxis fellowship replaces recipients’ teaching responsibilities for the academic year. Fellows are expected to devote roughly 10 hours per week in the Scholars’ Lab. Fellows join our vibrant community and have a voice in intellectual programming for the Scholars’ Lab.
All University of Virginia doctoral students working within humanities disciplines, on topics demonstrably connected to the humanities, or working in adjacent fields are eligible to apply. The Scholars’ Lab particularly encourages and will prioritize participation of students who are women, Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQIA+, disabled, undocumented, international, first-generation, or from other under-represented groups. We will be working to put together an interdisciplinary and intellectually diverse team.
Applicants must be enrolled full time in the year for which they are applying. In addition, applicants must be capable of attending weekly in-person meetings in both the fall and spring semesters of their fellowship year (though we are flexible and can certainly accommodate travel needs). We will monitor public health to ensure such meetings are possible–we have successfully held the program remotely during the pandemic.
Applicants must still be drawing upon their regular funding packages as part of their doctoral program. I.e. students will typically be in years 2-5 of their program during the year the fellowship will be held. Students outside of GSAS or whose teaching would already be relieved through other sources during the fellowship year should reach out to Brandon Walsh to discuss their eligibility given their particular cirumstances.
N.b. - Praxis students are not expected to come in with particular technical training or experiences - we cover that over the course of the fellowship year! Prior experience with digital technology is only one part of an application and should not keep anyone from applying. Everyone brings something different to the team, and your strengths in critical thinking about media, collaboration, project development, and more could be great ways for an application to shine. Concerned students are encouraged to reach out to Brandon Walsh, our Head of Student Programs, to discuss their backgrounds or eligibility.
How to Apply
The application process for Praxis is simple! You apply individually, and we assemble the team, through a process that includes group interviews and input from peers. To start, we ask for a letter of intent (roughly 2 pages single-spaced). The letter should include:
- What brings you to us? - a description of the applicant’s curiosity in the program, (could include a description of proposed use of digital technologies in research if relevant, but interest and curiousity can be valid starting points as well);
- How do you work? - a narrative about how the applicant approaches collaboration and learning;
- What do you bring to the table? - summary of what skills, interests, methods the applicant will bring to the Praxis Program;
- What do you want out of this? - summary of what the applicant hopes to gain as a Praxis Fellow, both in the short and the long term;
- When can you meet? - your availability on the days and times we’ve identified for group interviews: Tuesday, 3/21 from 1-3 or Wednesday, 3/22 from 1-3 (you will only have to participate in one hour-long group interview). Shortly after these group interviews, we will notify applicants who advance to schedule follow-up interviews should we decide such a round is necessary.
In addition, we ask for a brief note (a PDF or screenshot of an email is fine) from the applicant’s department chair stating that they are aware the student is applying for the fellowship and support the application (given that the application can affect teaching rosters).
The best Praxis applications are the ones that go beyond listing the skills and research one hopes to bring or take away from the experience. Instead, focusing on weaving those elements into a narrative of how the program connects to your life plans and how you, in turn, connect to the spirit of the program.
Questions about Praxis Fellowships and the application process should be directed to Brandon Walsh. Completed application materials are due March 1st and can be uploaded through the GSAS application portal, which will open on January 15th. Please do consider this application to be part of a process - the beginning of a conversation about how we can work together. We highly encourage students to write to Brandon Walsh to discuss their interest in the program and how the Lab can contribute to their professional development. Together we can begin to discuss how the Lab can be a part of your time here, with Praxis or otherwise.