Welcome to CBR lab!

This is the place where we do and teach comics-based research methods, make research, and do other good creative work to support a wide range of projects and programs. Join us!


Just kidding. All methods are equally appropriate, powerful, and forward-thinking, but we love the love we got from the lovely people over at UMass research communications! Look here! https://www.umass.edu/gateway/research/stories/comics-based-research

A Visit From Professor Vivanco

Professor Vivanco teaches us about research comics-- and the scourge of scorchers! 

We are over the moon to welcome Professor Luis Vivanco to campus to present a research conversation titled, “Adventures in Stumbling.” Professor Vivanco describes this lecture, which focuses on culture, comics and emerging modes of inquiry in anthropology (and social science writ large) as follows:

“During the last few years, I have been spending more time than I probably should making and sharing research-based comics on the social history of bicycles. What began as a playful diversion has generated new revelations about things I have long taken for granted, including my relationship with scholarship and teaching. I have come to describe what I do in this space as creative stumbling. In this illustrated talk, I reflect on my intentional and emergent inquiry practices, tripping, stumbling, and backing my way into inquiries, while embracing the generative intellectual and creative possibilities that exist in unfamiliar and bewildering spaces, moments, and processes.”

You can learn more about this innovative work, and Professor Vivanco, here: https://vtdigger.org/2019/12/23/an-anthropologist-studies-vermonts-bicycle-culture-in-cartoon/

Professor Vivanco is is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at UVM. His scholarship focuses on the culture and politics of environmentalist social movements and activism, drawing primarily on research in Latin America. His writings have explored community-level biodiversity conservation and ecotourism; the history of nature cinema and wildlife film; and the socio-cultural dimensions of urban bicycle mobility and political activism. He is currently writing his tenth book, on environmental anthropology. He is also author of the Oxford Dictionary of Cultural Anthropology and has co-written four widely-used anthropology textbooks. He has won University of Vermont’s Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award (2012); Scholar-Teacher Award (2023), and the University Outstanding Advising Award (2023).

CBR Lab is about using comics-based and other creative methodologies to solve problems, generate powerful solutions, conduct innovative inquiry and imagine wider creative dissemination and research outputs in the humanities and social and natural sciences. Our PI, Dr. Pirie, a former newspaper cartoonist turned social scientist, is one of the creators of comics-based research, having contributed to the definition of the field and published comics-based work in formerly conventional-text-only journals.

Here are some of the things we do:

Supporting student projects: We advise and support comics-based thesis and dissertation work from proposal through the final defense.

Methodological consulting: Let us help you with your project! We support faculty in grant-writing for research that will incorporate comics-based or other creative methodologies. We can consult, provide services, or even help you with writing and providing exemplars. We can even teach you to draw.

Trainings: We conduct trainings in CBR for your department, class, student group, center, or other interested group of folks. Our training model prepares scholars in across disciplines to use CBR practice and principles in their own projects. Our group has conducted trainings departments and groups at UMass, for state agencies, and for universities and research groups as far away as New Zealand. Everyone loves us.

Illustration services: We also support scholars who need artistic advising/illustration services. Unlike illustrators-for-hire, we are professionally trained artists who also happen to be professors at an R1 institution.  

All our work is interdisciplinary, and yes, we can teach you to draw.

How to get involved:

Students can enroll in EDUC 696A (Independent Study) with Dr. Pirie to participate in CBR lab on a 1-3 credit basis. Low credit options include attending our biweekly meetings, with more in-depth project work with more credits.

Five College Faculty and Staff are welcome to attend group meetings to support your own work or our group projects. We encourage wide involvement and welcome anyone (even if you don’t think you can draw!)

Your world is better with pictures. Come join us.

If you want to learn more please contact our director, Professor Pirie, at sallyann@umass.edu

Affiliated Faculty and Programs

Professor Aline Gubrium, Professor of Health Promotion Policy, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, UMass Amherst. https://www.umass.edu/public-health-sciences/about/directory/aline-gubrium

Dr. Bethany Lisi, Assistant Director & Senior Lecturer, Center for Teaching & Learning  https://www.umass.edu/ctl/about/our-team/bethany-lisi

Professor Sally Pirie, Head CBR Lab Conspirator and Professor of Child and Family Studies, https://www.umass.edu/education/about/directory/sally-pirie

Professor Luis Vivanco, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Vermont. www.illustratedwheel.com

Fred Zinn, Associate Director Digital Learning, UMass Amherst College of Education https://www.umass.edu/education/about/directory/fred-zinn

GloTech Lab, University of Massachusetts, Amherst https://glotechlab.net/