American Council of Learned Societies spotlights UMBC’s CoLab as an interdisciplinary leader

Published: Feb 2, 2024

A group of CoLab college students stand around a computer CoLab
“It’s been amazing to watch the students collaborate and learn from each other,” says Ben Daniels, Ph.D. ’22, geography and environmental systems, graduate research assistant, and a CoLab team leader.

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has chosen UMBC’s Interdisciplinary CoLab for its “Undergraduate Spotlight” series. ACLS is a nonprofit federation of 80 scholarly organizations that has supported and amplified American scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences since 1919. Over the last six summers, UMBC’s CoLab has provided students with an innovative team-based applied learning opportunity through a three-credit paid internship in narrative-based research. 

ACLS writes, “Unlike traditional group work in a college classroom, wherein majors from the same discipline are all trying to master the same material, CoLab projects require students to use their own skills and appreciate the skills of others.”

Professional research experience

CoLab gives interdisciplinary student teams a professional research experience while learning how to tell effective stories and create valuable public-facing results for community partners. “I wasn’t aware of the [Baltimore Immigration] museum prior to my internship,” shared CoLab alum Johanna Alonso ’20, English, about her team’s project “Baltimore: The Second Ellis Island. “I think the real benefit of the CoLab is that it exposes students to people, places, programs, and projects we may never have encountered otherwise.”

Co-directed by Carole McCann, professor and chair of gender, women’s, + sexuality studies, and Donald Snyder, a principal lecturer in media and communications studies, UMBC Interdisciplinary CoLab is a partnership between the Provost’s Office, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, and the Office of Summer, Winter, and Special Programs.

“ACLS is a very prestigious national academic organization,” says McCann, “so for it to highlight CoLab as an innovative program is a big deal.” 

After participating in the 2021 CoLab focused on BLM and Civil Rights Oral Histories, Deysi Chitic-Amaya ’23, media and communication studies, said, “I want to be able to approach future projects with a more open-minded perspective that may help to produce something new and innovative.”

Read more about students’ CoLab experiences and the application process.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Scroll to Top