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  • Writer's pictureMegan

Can you really crowd-fund research?

What better topic for the first post on the Digital Hammurabi blog than our beloved HAPS grant? HAPS has been up and running now for a little over a year, and we're incredibly proud that we've been able to provide three Ph.D. students with $2,000 each to help fund their research over the long summer months. Perhaps it would be a good idea to explain exactly what HAPS is, for those who are new to our work!

HAPS stands for 'Humans Against Poor Scholarship', and is an entirely crowd-funded research grant aimed at Ph.D. students who work in some field connected with the Ancient Near East - this includes Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Assyriology, Art History, and Egyptology, among others. How many students we are able to fund is based entirely on how much money we manage to raise, and in its inaugural year we were humbled by the generosity of our donors. A total of $7,607.96 was raised, giving us enough to fund three students AND get us 3/4 of the way toward funding the first student of summer 2019-2020.

You may be wondering why you should donate - and the answer is, in my opinion, clear. In the current anti-intellectual, anti-science climate, academic funding is more important than ever. Yet, Humanities programs are notoriously under-funded, and Ph.D. students rarely receive a stipend over the summer months. This means that their institution cannot or will not give them money to live on, but they are still expected to continue working, and carrying out their own research. Both Josh and I have been in that position, and we understand how challenging it can be to both find the money to pay rent and eat, while still maintaining a rigorous academic output. The money that HAPS provides goes some way to help cover that shortfall. If you want to help us, you can send a one-time donation via PayPal, or sign up for our HAPS Patreon for regular support!

As HAPS is entirely crowd-funded, we thought it only right that the donors have a say in the selection process. It's your money, after all, so you should be able to help select what research gets funded! To aid the process, we hold a series of live interviews on our YouTube channel so that the applicants can explain their research projects, and be asked questions by the audience. The voting process follows the interviews, and each donor is invited to vote for the three research projects they were most excited about. After the summer has ended, recipients of the HAPS grant are invited to report back on their experiences.

(For a full playlist of HAPS interviews, please click here).

HAPS recipients this year were Melina Seabrook, an Archaeology student at Harvard; Sara Mohr, an Assyriology student at Brown, and Jenna Stover-Kemp, a Hebrew Bible student at UC Berkeley.

This post is a long way to say that yes, you CAN successfully crowd-fund academic research...and with just over $1,600 already in the bank for HAPS 2019-2020, we're incredibly excited to start the fundraising process again!

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