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 tenth year of the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy was another wonderful interdisciplinary meeting of some of the most forward-thinking and innovative graduate students on the University of Iowa campus. Led by Jennifer Kayle (Dance, CLAS) and Craig Just (Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering), the home departments of this year’s 17 participants ranged from Neuroscience to Library and Information Science, while topics for projects included sports as community-building and an art exhibit focused on perceptions of global conflict.
New to the Institute this year was a partnership with Johnson County and a site visit to the county’s former poor farm and asylum. Working with Shanti Sellz, the county’s point person for re-envisioning the use of this space on the west side of Iowa City, the Institute toured the haunting structures on the coldest day of the year. Afterward, local experts presented information about local housing equity and food security, as well as historical representations of mental health, all topics that might be part of the space’s eventual programming and curation. Working in small groups, the Fellows had several days to propose to Sellz their ideas for publicly engaged research and teaching projects that could be enacted at the site.
Remarks from Graduate Fellows at the End of the Week
“The Institute has changed the way I view / frame / think about the work I do (pedagogically, creative, and scholarly). I am so thankful to have new ways to talk about what I do and why it matters. As a result, I now approach my work differently and have begun to think about other ways of knowing and doing.” —2016 Institute member
“I think that this Institute has definitely sparked a change. We can all use something we love to make a difference. It has also really sold the idea that collaborating with people whose fields are completely different from yours is really important to create truly good ideas.” —2016 Institute member