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2021 Plant Humanities Summer Program

July 6–August 13, 2021, hosted virtually | Three weeks of virtual instruction in plant humanities, followed by three weeks of digital training and team projects for publication on the Plant Humanities Lab. Apply by April 15.

Course Leader: Dr. Yota Batsaki

Course Team: Dr. Anatole Tchikine, Dr. Ashley Buchanan, Taylor Johnson, Courtney Randolph

Applications due April 15.

The third year of the Plant Humanities summer program will be fully digital. Continuing with the successful experiment of the previous year, the first part of the course will introduce students to the emerging field of plant humanities, drawing on botany, history, art history, the history of science, literature, indigenous studies, and environmental studies. In the second part of the course, participants will receive training in digital skills and the use of special collections. By the end of the course, participants will have integrated and applied these two approaches by working in teams to create interactive plant narratives for the Plant Humanities Lab, an innovative digital space that Dumbarton Oaks co-developed with JSTOR Labs.

During the first part of the course, daily seminars will explore aspects of plant humanities from the Renaissance to the present. The first week will focus on the roots of botany in Renaissance natural history, including new practices of observation and collecting and the rise of institutions such as the botanical garden, the museum, and the herbarium. In the second week we will explore botany as a colonial enterprise, alongside developments in taxonomy, theories of evolution, and environmental thought. In the third week we will turn our attention to plant-human interactions in the Anthropocene, ranging from invasive species and climate change to contemporary artists’ engagement with plants in their interrogation of race, gender, ethnicity, and violence.

Seminars will be supplemented by guest lecturers from distinguished scholars, including Janet Browne, Peter Crane, Erle Ellis, Rosetta Elkin, Ned Friedman, and Romita Ray.

The fourth week will be devoted to workshops on digital tools that employ textual, visual, spatial, and network analyses such as text mining through Voyant, image comparison and annotation utilizing IIIF manifests, mapping overlays and plugins through Geojson and Leaflet, and network visualizations using D3. During the final two weeks students will work in teams, supported by the instructors, to develop interactive essays for the Plant Humanities Lab. Students will draw on digitized rare and unique materials from the Dumbarton Oaks collection, BHL, Global Plants, and other digital databases to craft engaging narratives and visualizations about the fundamental influence of plants on human cultures. To create their essays, participants will use Juncture, a new, open access, visual essay tool developed by JSTOR Labs specifically for this project.

All participant work will be credited, and students will receive a stipend of $1,500.

Admission Requirements  

Priority will be given to undergraduate and graduate students with special interests (demonstrated through coursework or research projects) in the fields of history of science, environmental studies, digital humanities, art history, and/or botany. However, we also welcome applications from candidates who may not already possess skills in digital humanities or the use of special collections but seek to develop these skills.


Prospective candidates are invited to submit by email, as a single PDF, (1) a résumé; (2) a statement of interest describing how the summer program will contribute to their professional and intellectual goals, and (3) an academic transcript. Candidates should also arrange for two letters of recommendation to be emailed to the program directly by the referees. All application materials should be emailed to with “2021 Plant Summer Program” in the subject line.  All application materials must be received by April 15, 2021Selection criteria will include (but not be limited to) a demonstrated need for the program and the candidates’ present and future research objectives. International candidates are eligible to apply for this virtual program. For further information, please contact