Part of our ongoing interview series with leaders and members of feminist-oriented labs and lab-like spaces, the following is our interview with Thea Lindquist (she/her) and Shelley Knuth (she/her), Co-Directors of the Center for Research Data & Digital Scholarship at University of Colorado, Boulder. The lab was founded in 2016 and launched to the public in 2017.
With which research area, or cluster of research areas, does the lab engage with? (be as specific or broad as you wish)
CRDDS is interdisciplinary and engages with all research areas. The center is a partnership between CU Boulder Research Computing and the University Libraries that focuses on social and technical infrastructure supporting data-intensive research as well as training and education offering skills for work— and critical engagement—with data.
What is a project, publication, community collaboration, or other output from the lab that you feel proud of?
Our broad and diverse educational offerings, from sponsoring events like the Feminist Lab symposium, Open Access week, and Data Feminism talk, trainings from workshops to multi-day data bootcamps, and credit courses and even a graduate certificate program in digital humanities. Many of these offerings are. available through multiple modalities. We seek to promote them to peoples who may not have found working with data and high performance computing welcoming or accessible or simply might come from disciplines that tend to make less use of computational approaches.
What is one way (or a few ways) in which the lab centers equity, inclusion, or justice in its methods, protocols, or approaches?
—Alternatively, what is one way (or a few ways) in which the lab decenters dominant methods, protocols, or approaches through its work?
The cross-disciplinary and professional engagement between the University Libraries and Research Computing is one of our greatest strengths as a center and has meant that nontraditional users on both sides have been exposed to new ideas and offerings.
When working with postdoctoral researchers and graduate and undergraduate fellows and collaborators, we commit to mentorship plans that incorporate the values and practices highlighted in the bills of rights mentioned below as much as possible. We also seek to undertake and promote projects that advance social justice and community involvement. Currently we are working towards expanding the Digital El Diario project to promote archival justice and historical recovery and recruiting and highlighting scholarship from historically underrepresented groups through open publishing and minimal computing. Center staff are involved with organizations like Women in HPC, the only international organization working to improve equity, diversity and inclusion in high performance computing. These are just some examples.
What is one internal (within the lab) challenge that you have encountered while devising, following, maintaining, or revising these methods/protocols/approaches? Is there a specific occasion that comes to mind in which an internal challenge presented itself? How did the lab work through it, or if it’s ongoing, what has been useful to think with?
Given that we are two different organizations that exist within our university, sometimes we have to navigate different terminologies, different processes, and different cultures, which can sometimes lead to internal challenges. One specific example occurred early on, when the research IT group and the Libraries data management team were discussing “metadata,” which had very different connotations for each group! These types of situations have been largely mitigated through open communication and a realization that we are all approaching these conversations with different backgrounds but similar goals and good intentions.
What is one external challenge that you have encountered while devising, following, maintaining, or revising these methods/protocols/approaches? (e.g. in terms of the lab interfacing with its broader institution or community). Is there a specific occasion that comes to mind when an external challenge presented itself? How did the lab work through it, or if it’s ongoing, what has been useful to think with?
Being as broadly interdisciplinary as we are, we navigate not only internal but also external culture challenges. Sometimes working more formally with campus partners and navigating the labyrinth of processes in the university setting injects unexpected complexity into situations. For instance, something as routine as collecting data on collaborative offerings—trying to figure out how to gather the data while trying to keep it simple and honor the processes of all involved has sometimes been a challenge. However, we have been able to work through it with clear policies and a lot of communication.
Where have you found lab inspiration and resources? Which labs, authors, and makers would you love to signal boost?
- Postdoctoral Laborers Bill of Rights: https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:26741/ collaboratively authored by the Postdoctoral Laborers Group and outside reviewers
- Collaborators Bill of Rights: https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:12069/ by Tanya E. Clement, Douglas Reside, Brian Croxall, Julia Flanders, Neil Fraistat, Steve Jones, Matt Kirschenbaum, Suzanne Lodato, Laura Mandell, Paul Marty, David Miller, Bethany Nowviskie, Stephen Olsen, Tom Scheinfeldt, David Seaman, Mark Tebeau, John Unsworth, Kay Walter
- Student Collaborators Bill of Rights: https://humtech.ucla.edu/news/a-student-collaborators-bill-of-rights/ by Haley Di Pressi, Stephanie Gorman, Miriam Posner, Raphael Sasayama, and Tori Schmitt, with contributions from Roderic Crooks, Megan Driscoll, Amy Earhart, Spencer Keralis, Tiffany Naiman, and Todd Presner
- CLEAR Lab Book: https://civiclaboratory.nl/clear-lab-book/
- AORTA Anti-Oppressive Facilitation for Democratic Process: http://arts-campout-2015.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2019/02/AORTA_Facilitation-Resource-Sheet-JUNE2017.pdf
- Data Feminism: http://datafeminism.io/ by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein