Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy

Obermann Graduate Institute

The Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy is a one-week interdisciplinary institute in which UI graduate students from across campus and at any point in their graduate studies explore how public engagement can enhance teaching, research, and creative work.

The 2018 Institute was led by Jacki Rand (History, CLAS) and Tricia Zebrowski (Communications Sciences & Disorders, CLAS), with assistance from Senior Fellow Christopher Taylor (Library & Information Science). The Graduate Fellows ranged from an MFA student in Dance to a combined MPH and MBA student from the Colleges of Public Health and Business.

This year’s public partner was the Iowa Youth Writing Program (IYWP), whose leaders Obermann Graduate Instituteshared their mission and the challenges of providing low-cost literacy services to area students during a session at Mark Twain Elementary School’s Before and After School Program. Another IYWP partner, the Antelope Lending Library, was also on hand to share their work. Working in quartets, the Fellows proposed projects that met the challenges the IYWP’s leadership had shared. Each project showed attentive listening to the real needs of the organization, while also highlighting the students’ skills. One project, which focuses on providing equipment, training, and curricula for oral history, was funded by the Office of Outreach and Engagement and is being carried out in summer and fall 2018 by Aiden Bettine (History, CLAS) and John Jepsen (History, CLAS).

“For much of my graduate school experience, I’ve felt like I was attempting to steer my way through a heady intellectual environment that often felt incomplete. After participating in the Graduate Institute, I had two realizations. First, it helped me see that space can be made so that scholarly endeavors are not all intellectual exercises but are also heart-centered and enriching opportunities. The second realization is that I’m part of a community of like-minded individuals from all different disciplines who share similar altruistic passions and desires to use their scholarship to make real change.” —Lydia Maunz-Breese, English, CLAS