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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 3, 2007

Public Event Explores 'Transforming Community-University Partnerships'

Creative and effective collaborations between residents of Johnson County and the University of Iowa will be the topic of conversation at an evening event at the Iowa City Public Library Tuesday, Jan. 9. Sylvia Gale, a scholar and activist from the University of Texas-Austin, will speak about "Scholar, Artist, Citizen: Transforming Community-University Partnerships" at 6:30 p.m. in Room A.

Following Gale's talk, there will be a structured conversation about creative and effective university-community partnerships. Local service providers and constituents of other nonprofits, as well as members of the UI and Johnson County communities, are encouraged to participate. The evening will end with a public reception at the Englert Theater.

Gale coordinates the Free Minds Project, an initiative of UT-Austin's Humanities Institute, which provides low-income adults in the Austin area with a chance to fulfill their intellectual potential and to "jumpstart" their college education. Gale has also been involved with other university-community collaborative projects, including The Community Sabbatical Research Leave Program, which enables directors and staff members of Central Texas 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations to apply to the university for paid flexible leave in order to pursue a question or problem related to their organization and its constituency, and Teachers as Scholars, a course-for-credit program which strives to energize and validate K-12 teachers as intellectuals by keeping them connected to cutting-edge scholarship in the humanities and sciences.

The Jan. 9 event is the kickoff of the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy ( This new initiative, sponsored by the Graduate College and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, is a one-week institute for UI graduate students to learn how civic engagement can be merged with teaching and research. Obermann Graduate Fellows study methods for engaged teaching and research and develop projects that reflect the methodology and theory studied.

The 15 Obermann Graduate Fellows were selected from nearly 40 applicants and include students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, the Tippie College of Business, and International Programs. Their interests range from using the arts to enhance educational programs for teenagers to outreach for incarcerated veterans.

During the week of the Institute, the fellows will meet with civic leaders and UI faculty, staff and students; visit community service providers; and develop projects that reflect their learning. In addition, students will read a wide range of articles on issues related to engagement, teaching and research. The diversity of these articles in terms of authors' disciplines and types of publications suggests the multi-dimensionality of public engagement in academia at the moment.

The institute is co-directed by Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English, and David Redlawsk, associate professor of political science, with program coordination by Jennifer New of the Obermann Center. Redlawsk and Mangum are graduates of the UI Center for Teaching's Service Learning Institute.

The Jan. 9 evening event is co-sponsored by the UI's Center for Teaching, Civic Engagement Program and Women's Resource and Action Center, and the City of Iowa City and Iowa Campus Compact, with endorsements from The James Gang, the City of Iowa City's Summer of the Arts, and UI Engineers for a Sustainable World.

The mission of the Obermann Center is to provide an environment and resources conducive to reflection and writing and to the exchange of ideas. Scholars from a broad range of disciplines and institutions interact with one another and with the public to create and disseminate new knowledge and to establish a diverse and vibrant intellectual community.

For additional information and programming details, see To learn more about any of the events listed above, contact Jennifer New at, or 335-4360.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Jennifer New,, 319-335-4360.