Each year the Project Vox team prepares an annual report for our advisory board and key stakeholders at Duke University. In our efforts to share the processes of our work, we want to share sections of our report with our audience. We are excited to share the the tremendous efforts made by the student team members this academic year.
Key Accomplishments this past year:
- Publication of a new philosopher entry on Nísia Floresta
- Feasibility study and research for a new philosopher entry on Germaine de Stäel
- Research and writing for a themed entry on “Poetry and Philosophy”
- Remote collaboration with international faculty, graduate, and undergraduate team members
- Completion of a Duke undergraduate Bass Connections tutorial course based on Project Vox
- Redesign of the Teaching section of the Project Vox website based on user feedback
- Student presentation on Project Vox at the Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase
Research and Student Engagement:
27 Team members, including students, faculty, staff, and one post-doctoral fellow
12+ Disciplines represented by team members
7 Institutions represented by our team members and contributors
This year’s team (our largest to date) included twenty students. As always, while faculty and staff provided leadership, mentorship, and training, the students ran the project: coordinating the team’s work; researching, writing, and publishing entries; updating our website; and helping us to realize this year’s goals. This year the team piloted a credit-earning course that provided formal instruction in research, writing, publishing, and collaboration for Project Vox; incorporated more student research and writing into the site; researched new topics and figures; and worked on remote teams to research and publish a new philosopher entry. We were also delighted to be invited to present at the 2023 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, where student team members shared what it meant to be part of a global initiative to reform philosophy.
Our Project Vox Classroom
This year Project Vox continued its engagement with interdisciplinary research and undergraduate mentoring in philosophy and art history. The Du Châtelet and Sor Juana entries were updated to include more research on these philosophers’ portraits: essays written by students in Duke Professor Susanna Caviglia’s undergraduate art history class (fall 2021) were edited and added to the Project Vox site by the Images Lead (summer 2022).
In fall 2022, two seasoned Project Vox graduate students translated our team’s approach to collaborative research and publishing into a formal course. This 300-level tutorial introduced undergraduates to methods of research, writing, and citation in art history and philosophy; tools for documenting their research (e.g., Box, AirTable, Zotero); and strategies for writing about philosophy for a general, interdisciplinary, and online audience. Through collaborative and independent assignments, students developed the foundation for a future Project Vox entry on the historical relationships between poetry and philosophy.
This training in images research came in handy in spring 2023, when a small team of Duke undergraduate students researched, described, and prepared images for the Nísia Floresta entry. Other team members began researching images for a Germaine de Staël entry (anticipated 2024 publication). Through careful research, coordination, and a little luck, a team member visited the Maison Auguste Comte (Paris, France), where she secured images related to Staël as well as a portrait of Floresta (included in this year’s entry).
This year we also began exploring how to build new forms of publishing and research into Project Vox’s workflows. The 2022 Story+ team’s visualization of Wikipedia-based philosopher networks raised questions about how to replicate and sustain this kind of work. That team’s Project Manager, who was also the incoming AY2022–2023 Project Manager for the Project Vox Team, worked with the co-directors and the Technical Lead to draft potential workflows for sharing downloadable JSON datasets. She also conducted a Wikipedia editing session with the project team, demonstrating how to make more women philosophers discoverable on Wikipedia by making simple metadata edits that connected these philosophers to the famous men they influenced and vice versa.
Cross-Institutional and Multilingual Collaborations
This year marked the first time an entirely remote team developed a Project Vox entry (Nísia Floresta). In summer 2022, following last year’s approval of Floresta for a future Project Vox entry, students and faculty at Simon Fraser University and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro began researching and drafting sections of the entry. Throughout fall 2022 and into January 2023, Project Vox’s Managing Editor communicated regularly with the Research Lead for the Floresta entry to help ready the working draft for external review. The Managing Editor did light copy-editing before sending the draft to external reviewers and then coordinated a lay-editing process with the Project Vox team to assess organization, content, and readability of the entry. Team members’ feedback, combined with translation assistance from a Duke student fluent in Portuguese, was invaluable for navigating the new challenges of publishing an entry on a philosopher who herself wrote in multiple languages.
In addition to helping coordinate work with the remote team, the Managing Editor served as local Research Lead, guiding Duke undergraduate students’ preliminary research on philosopher Germaine de Staël. The students selected core texts or sets of texts and began the process of researching Staël’s rich writings, spanning political theory, literary theory, theories of the emotions, feminism, abolitionism, and several novels. By the end of the academic year, the students had produced a sizeable working draft for the entry. The Research Lead also put the team in touch with Kristin Gjesdal, Professor of Philosophy at Temple University, and an expert on Staël, who consulted with the team remotely and who will continue to advise the project next year. The draft entry, together with the already-begun images research, puts next year’s team in an excellent position to publish on Staël’s remarkable life and thought.
The students who participated in the 2022 Story+ program, and created a wonderful Story+ project while at Duke University last year, continued their work on data representation of women philosophers in online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. This culminated in their Signature Work Capstone, which received a mark of distinction.
Reach and Impact:
27, 349 Individual user sessions on the site during FY2023
467 Unique readers of the three Revealing Voices blog posts during FY2023
114,776 Unique users of the site since since its launch in 2015
49 Countries worldwide with 200+ unique users of the site since 2015
Project Vox’s Outreach & Assessment team works to grow awareness of our resources and expand our network of researchers, students, and teachers. The team’s Outreach and Assessment (O&A) Coordinator19 continued to engage members of our Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) partnership grant, Extending New Narratives (ENN), to contribute through our blog series. More students wrote for our blog this year, including in the new Project Vox Classroom series, with posts that document our best practices for mentorship and collaborative research, reflect on our first semester-long course, explain our image research process, and explore network visualization. We hope to publish this translation in Fall 2023. Although we used the blog to highlight more of the student work this year, we also published three Revealing Voices posts by Regan Penaluna, Kristin Gjesdal, Clare Mac Cumhaill, and Rachael Wiseman.
We continued to raise awareness of our site through Twitter and Facebook, although recent changes at Twitter call into question the efficacy and ethics in continuing to use it for promotion. From July 2022 to May 2023, our Twitter held 23,027 impressions. Our LinkedIn profile helped us lead discussions around the professionalization of our work on the team. As of this writing, we have 306 followers on LinkedIn, and many of our current students and alums have added their own contributions to their work history. We have also found that this is a wonderful space to share the blog posts written by our students (noted above).
Last year, our team also assessed and reimagined our Teaching page. Previously the page featured syllabi only, presented in ways significant to philosophy instruction. Our Teaching Resources Analyst surveyed needs of instructors, then redesigned and organized existing site content into a searchable database using AirTable. This new resource fulfills specific requests from users, including pairings of Project Vox philosophers with canonical philosophers and ways to search and locate teaching materials usable by instructors from disciplines considered outside of philosophy, such as women’s studies and literature. We are excited to share this teaching resources page with three sections: philosopher pairings, syllabi, and teaching materials.
As in previous years, funding for Project Vox was directed almost entirely towards labor: namely, paying the students who research, write, organize, and coordinate effort of others. Paid students on the project tend to be graduate students, who provide critical mentoring, training, and leadership for undergraduates and new
members of the team. Critical positions continue to be Project Manager, Managing Editor, and Research Lead, closely followed by Outreach & Engagement Coordinator and Images Lead. Graduate students’ funding restrictions and service requirements typically limit their ability to work more than ten hours per week. Subsequently, our student budget and role expectations have been consistent for several years: students in these key roles work 5–10 hours per week for 9–12 months, and we raise $25,000–$30,000 each year to support their work with the team.
This year we continued to receive funding from the Expanding New Narratives in Philosophy project (a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council partnership grant, 2020–2027) to support the Outreach & Engagement Coordinator, who in turn advises project partners in sharing updates about their work and involves them in Project Vox outreach. We also applied for and received AY 2023–2024 funding from Duke University’s Bass Connections initiative, which has provided critical support for our student team in recent years.
Beyond labor, the costs necessary for supporting Project Vox have been negligible, amounting to $50 annually for technical costs (Reclaim Hosting server and data privacy services). Libraries staff regularly contribute 5–15% of their time on work supporting Project Vox (e.g., resolving copyright and permission questions; hiring, supervising, and mentoring students; writing and editing funding proposals; addressing technical issues and updates). The next section of this report provides more details on technical support for Project Vox.
While we did not fund the work of the remote research team, we acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the Floresta Research Lead, who secured funding and other support for researching and developing the Floresta entry. This raises questions for us about how we can best support remote partnerships that help to add and expand resources available through Project Vox. Further conversations with our remote partners are needed to better understand their experience working with our project and team and what conditions could help set up future remote teams for success.
This year our Outreach & Engagement Coordinator initiated conversations with Duke’s Office of Foundation Relations to explore potential funding sources that would further develop Project Vox’s teaching resources and build more engagement with high school and college instructors. Much of this work is still in the ideation phase; we anticipate pursuing funding from either a foundation or a federal agency in the next year and coordinating this work with Kurt Cumiskey in the Duke Libraries Development Office.
Site Maintenance and Enhancement
The Technical Lead continued to support the Project Vox website during the past year, which included updating the site’s analytics code to ensure compatibility with upcoming changes to Google Analytics. In addition to participating in project team meetings and consulting with members as needed, he developed a prototype website (“SandVox”) for showcasing experimental and student projects related to Project Vox.