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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 28, 2007

Graduate students selected for Obermann Center civic engagement institute

The Graduate Institute for Public Engagement has selected 15 graduate students to participate in a weeklong program on how academic teaching and research can address community needs.

The Institute, sponsored by the University of Iowa's Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, will be held Jan. 15 to 21, 2008, and is co-directed by Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English, and David Redlawsk, associate professor of political science.

In its second year, the Obermann Graduate Institute provides theoretical and practical training for graduate students committed to combining their academic interests with civic engagement. Instead of emphasizing forms of applied work or outreach more commonly undertaken by academics, the Obermann Graduate Institute explores new forms of bridging scholarship, teaching and the community.

"We are attempting to imagine how scholars in different fields might find genuine intellectual partners outside of academe and how students in classes might fill community needs and enrich their classroom education at the same time," said Mangum. She said that public engagement does not merely provide services to the community, but acknowledges that academics and community partners have different, but equally important, ideas to teach each other.

A variety of sessions are included in the institute, including presentations from scholars who have provocatively integrated public engagement with their teaching and research. During the week, the fellows will make two site visits to hear from scholars and community members in the field, and fellows will develop public engagement projects of their own.

The Graduate Institute Fellows receive a $500 award and have been selected from a wide range of UI colleges. Participants from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences include: Kirsten Beyer, geography; Bridget Draxler, English; Megan Foley, communication studies; Emma Rainey, nonfiction writing; Jonathan Rattner, film and video production; Lindsey Row-Heyveld, English; Kenda Stewart, anthropology and Shiori Yamazaki, Asian and Slavic languages and literature.

From the School of Art and Art History the fellows are: Jonathan Johnson, photography and Megan Berner, intermedia.

From the College of Public Health, the fellows include: Jacqueline Leung-Heras and Mary White, both from community and behavioral health.

Other participants are Kathryn Kauper, educational policy and leadership studies, College of Education; Rene Lorence, urban and regional planning, Graduate College; and Bennett Postlethwaite, management and organizations, Tippie College of Business.

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies provides an environment and resources for reflection and writing and for the exchange of ideas. Scholars from a broad range of disciplines and institutions interact with one another and with the public to create and communicate new knowledge and to establish a vibrant intellectual community.

The Obermann Center is located at N103 Oakdale Hall, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. For more information on the Graduate Institute for Public Engagement, call 319-335-4034 or visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Baculis, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 319-335-5000,