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University of Iowa News Release


March 23, 2009

Photo: The Thinker - Auguste Rodin - 1880

Graduate students present research and civic engagement efforts March 28

University of Iowa graduate students from a variety of academic disciplines will showcase service learning projects and develop community partnerships during the 11th annual Jakobsen Graduate Conference, which takes place March 27-28.

This year's conference features a free, public Service Learning and Civic Engagement Forum from 1 to 3:45 p.m. Saturday, March 28 in the Richey Ballroom at the Iowa Memorial Union. Twenty UI graduate students and faculty will present their service learning research and ideas. They'll have a chance to network with representatives from a variety of governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations and UI organizations that could benefit from the students' work and help move the projects forward.

"We recognize an increasing need to develop service learning relationships between the UI and its community," said Kristina Rogers, a doctoral candidate in organic chemistry who helped organize the conference. "Engaged learning is a reciprocal process that can tackle issues of economic, social, cultural and scholastic concern."

Examples of the types of projects that will be presented during the Civic Engagement Forum include a Web site that will teach parents and children the basics of Internet safety, a creative writing course for homeless teens, and a public TV show that allows senior citizens to share their personal stories.

"Many of the projects are young, so students are looking forward to having meaningful conversations with anyone interested in partnering to bring the ideas to fruition for the greater good of the community," said Tim Paschkewitz, forum coordinator.

The engagement forum will conclude with a roundtable discussion during which participants will process and reflect on new relationships, ideas and collaborations built during the poster session and expo.

The public is also encouraged to view graduate students' work during artistic displays, performances, poster sessions and presentations throughout the day Saturday. Graduate students in the humanities, social sciences, education, biological and life sciences, math, physical sciences and engineering will present from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union.

More than 200 students will share their work. Projects include 10-minute plays, research on whether "chasing the kids" counts as exercise, and a study of the high-fructose corn syrup debate. A pharmacy student will share data on which groups of people tend to be most embarrassed to buy contraceptives. And a political science student will explain how people decide how much money to donate to campaigns.

"A major goal of the event is to give UI graduate students an opportunity to present their research in a conference-like atmosphere without leaving home," Rogers said. "We're very eager to share our work with the public, so we hope the community will stop by to learn, be entertained and support graduate education."

For a complete schedule, visit

Co-sponsored by the Graduate College and the Graduate Student Senate, the conference also includes professional development lectures and awards banquets.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kristina Rogers, Graduate Student Senate, 319-335-0571,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,