Research Infrastructure Working Group

Kelly Anne Brown


Rebecca Egger
The Townsend Center for the Humanities
UC Berkeley

Molly McCarthy
UC Davis Humanities Institute
UC Davis

Irena Polić
The Humanities Institute
UC Santa Cruz

Amanda Swain
Humanities Commons
UC Irvine

The UCHRI working group on Research Infrastructure involves humanities institute/center leadership from across the University of California in a three-year research project on research infrastructure in the humanities. What is research infrastructure generally, and how do we understand it specifically for the humanities? How do individual campuses within the University of California system recognize research infrastructure, and where are the limitations in this understanding for the work of the humanities? How do other institutes across the United States and internationally understand research infrastructure, and how might this contribute to a broader vision of what humanities infrastructure could become? As part of a multi-year and multi-based site research project, the working group will build upon these guiding research questions through domestic and international site visits.

As part of the site-based research, the working group visited two US-based research institutes in Fall 2017, with another US-based visit planned for 2019, and will visit two international institutes in 2019 and 2020. The visits include two separate informal focus groups: one with faculty and one with staff, with the conversations covering topics as varied as research administration, collaboration in the humanities, the role of the humanities center on campus, connecting with diverse constituencies, staffing, space, and communications, and funding/development plans for the future.

Through these meetings, the working group will compile a snapshot of how different audiences create, understand, and utilize a humanities-specific research infrastructure. The working group is also creating a bibliography of research infrastructure-related readings and resources, all of which will inform their focus groups and, ultimately, a public-facing product documenting the work.

Participant Bios

The Research Infrastructure working group (from left): Amanda Swain, Irena Polić, Kelly Anne Brown, Rebecca Egger, and Molly McCarthy

Kelly Anne Brown, associate director of UCHRI, manages a diverse portfolio of projects, including the UC-wide competitive grants program, Humanists@Work, and Horizons of the Humanities, among others. She holds a BA in English from Lewis & Clark College and a PhD in literature from UC Santa Cruz, where her scholarship centered on modernist publicness and interwar art and performance. Her professional background includes experience in public policy and administration, with a focus on children and family issues at the city, county, and state levels of California government. Her recent scholarship addresses issues of professionalization, the work of the humanities, and the future of graduate education.

Rebecca Egger has principal responsibility for implementing all programs at the Townsend Center. She serves as the Center’s liaison with campus departments and faculty members engaged in humanities-related projects, as well as with off-campus constituencies. After earning her PhD in English from Cornell University, she was Assistant Professor of English at the University of Michigan, specializing in modernist literature and visual culture. She has been at UC Berkeley since 2001; prior to joining the Townsend Center, she was Director of Academic Administration for the Division of Arts and Humanities.

Molly McCarthy is the Associate Director of the UC Davis Humanities Institute. With a Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University, McCarthy is dedicated to supporting humanities scholarship at UC Davis that has an impact on the social, economic and cultural vitality of California and beyond. She is the author of The Accidental Diarist: A History of the Daily Planner in America (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and has written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Boom: A Journal of California, among other publications. A former journalist, McCarthy was awarded the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Reporting as a staff member at Newsday.

Irena Polic is the Managing Director of The Humanities Institute and a passionate advocate for the humanities in the public sphere. She studied philosophy, literature, and linguistics and is a UC Santa Cruz alumna (BA and MA in Linguistics). She returned to UC Santa Cruz in 2008 to help lead the effort to reimagine the humanities research infrastructure on campus. Prior to that, Irena worked at the UC Humanities Research Institute at UC Irvine where she managed special research projects and organized workshops, seminars, and art exhibits with international collaborators. Irena was profiled in the UC Santa Cruz Review Magazine in 2012 and selected as the Outstanding Staff Member for UC Santa Cruz in 2017. She is an active member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, UC Humanities Network, and the National Humanities Alliance.

Amanda Jeanne Swain is the executive director of the UC Irvine Humanities Commons, which cultivates individual research, develops connections among scholars, and encourages exchange with organizations in the community. As a scholar and a higher education administrator, her work has been grounded in generating resources for research and programming and in conveying knowledge and insights produced by scholars to broader academic and public audiences. Amanda received a PhD in Russian and East European History from the University of Washington. She has published articles in, among others, Cahiers du Monde Russe, Ab Imperio, and Perspectives in History. Amanda also has ten years’ experience in cultural nonprofit management, including as executive director of the Arizona Humanities Council.