Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Headed

March 1–2, 2024

This event is a culmination of the Obermann Center’s multi-year grant from the Mellon Foundation focused on the transformation of humanities graduate education, Humanities for the Public Good

During the last four years, over 100 faculty, staff, administrators, graduate students, and visiting speakers have envisioned and created a host of ways that graduates from humanities PHD programs can fuse their studies in specific disciplines with skills and learning experiences that prepare them to adapt the methods, mindsets, research and writing expertise to serve the public good in any number of workplaces and careers. The grant has allowed us to organize symposia, lead skills-focused workshops, initiate course revisions, and transform graduate seminars in a number of departments into “humanities labs.” A summer internship program has sent about 40 graduate students out to work in nonprofits over the last several summers. We’ve collected a wealth of ideas and strategies, and we’re gathering those now for a publicly accessible digital Pressbook.

To celebrate the exciting outcomes of the grant, we have invited leaders of innovative graduate programs that also see the humanities as crucial to the public good to join us for this two-day symposium. This will be an opportunity to share our successes and, as we have throughout the grant period, to build a local and national learning community of students, staff, and faculty committed to new possibilities for graduate education in the humanities.

Please join us! The symposium is free and open to all.


Friday, March 1

10:00–11:30 a.m.

Teresa Mangum, Director, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, UI

Reframing the Humanities as Useful
Alan Liu, Distinguished Professor, English, University of California, Santa Barbara; co-founder and -leader, 4Humanities.org 
In conversation with Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Associate VP for Research in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, UI; and Roland Racevskis, Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities, CLAS, UI

Read Alan Liu's Thought Piece, "Wanted: Humanities Communicators"

FilmScene at the Chauncey
404 E. College St., Iowa City
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Experiments in Humanities Graduate Education Across the US: A Conversation with Visionary Leaders

Stacy Hartman, co-editor of Graduate Education for a Thriving Humanities Ecosystem
Katina Rogers, author of Putting the Humanities PHD to Work
In conversation with Teresa Mangum, Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies

Read Stacy Hartman's Thought Piece, "Humanities Entrepreneurship"

Read Katina Rogers's Thought Piece, "What is working — in helping to expand the possible 'uses' of humanities graduate education"

FilmScene at the Chauncey
404 E. College St., Iowa City
12:45–2:00 p.m.Lunch on your own 
2:00–3:00 p.m.

Engaged and Public Humanities and Graduate Education: The MA Degree at Georgetown

—Kathryn Temple, Professor, English, and Founder of the MA in Engaged and Public Humanities, Georgetown University
In conversation with Christine Getz, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Outreach and Engagement, CLAS, UI; and Brady Krien, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Success and Assessment, Graduate College, UI

Read Kathryn Temple's Thought Piece, "Humanities Graduate School Reform for Social Justice"

Iowa City Public Library
Rooms A, B, and C
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City
3:00–3:10 p.m.Break 
3:10–4:10 p.m.

Open House Featuring Our Obermann Interns

Experiential Graduate Education: Lessons from Humanities for the Public Good Summer Interns

Uche Anomnachi, American Studies, PS1 
Andrew Boge, Communication Studies, African American Museum of Iowa 
Jin Chang, College of Education, Coralville Public Library 
Rajorshi Das, English, PS1 
Michael Davis, Journalism and Mass Communication, Hancher Auditorium 
Priyanka Dubey, Community and Behavioral Health, Diversity Market 
Keegan Hockett, School of Music, United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties 
María Leonor Marquez Ponce, Spanish & Portuguese, UI Libraries & Special Collections 
Jennie Sekanics, English, Iowa City Public Library

With special thanks to leaders of this program:
—Jennifer New,  IISC Community Engagement Specialist, UI; Founder, Hypha; and Former Associate Director, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies
Rachel Young, Associate Professor, Journalism & Mass Communication, and Faculty Fellow, Office of Engagement, UI
Lauren Cox, Assistant Director, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, UI

Iowa City Public Library
Rooms A, B, and C
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City
4:15–6:00 p.m.ReceptionEnglert Theatre, 2nd floor gallery (elevator available)
221 E. Washington St., Iowa City


Saturday, March 2

10:30–11:30 a.m.

Building Careers after PhDs: Perspectives from HPG Postdoc Alums

Laura Perry, Assistant Director for Research and Public Engagement, Center for the Humanities, Washington University in St. Louis
Ashley Cheyemi McNeil, Director of Education and Research, Full Spectrum Features
In conversation with Teresa Mangum

Read Ashley Cheyemi McNeil's Thought Piece, "What is working — in helping to expand the possible 'uses' of humanities graduate education?"

Iowa City Public Library
Rooms A, B, and C
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Interdisciplinary Graduate Education: Inspiring Experiments at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis

—Antoinette Burton, Swanlund Endowed Chair Professor, History, and Director UIUC Humanities Research Institute 
William Acree, Associate Vice Dean of Graduate Education and Professor of Spanish, American Culture Studies and Performing Arts and Director, Transdisciplinary Futures, Washington University in St. Louis

In conversation with

—Hyaeweol Choi, Professor, Religious Studies and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies, UI
Tom Oates, Professor, American Studies and Journalism & Mass Communication, UI 
Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Associate Professor, Spanish & Portuguese, CLAS; Immediate Past President, Faculty Senate, UI

Read Antoinette Burton's Thought Piece, "Vocational Training"

Read William Acree's Thought Piece "Curricular Roots"

Iowa City Public Library
Rooms A, B, and C
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City
12:30–1:30 p.m.Lunch on your own 

1:30–3:00 p.m.

How Has the Mellon Humanities for the Public Good Initiative Transformed Graduate Education at the UI?
A Roundtable Featuring UI Faculty Who Have Used Mini-Grants to Redesign Courses or Designed Engaged, Career-Enhancing, Justice-Oriented Courses and Humanities Labs

Paula Amad, Professor, Cinematic Arts; with Yuquin He, MA candidate in Cinematic Arts
Course: Success in Graduate Studies 

Anny Curtius, Professor, French & Italian; with Anna Magavern, MFA in Literary Translation and MA in French and Francophone World Studies, and Sokhna Thiaw, PhD candidate in French and Francophone World Studies
Courses: Francophone Thought and Slavery, Museums, Memorials and Statues: the US, Europe, and the Global South

Anny Curtius and Roxanna Curto, Professors, French & Italian; with Anna Magavern, MFA in Literary Translation and MA in French and Francophone World Studies
Course: Introduction to Graduate Studies in French

Naomi Greyser, Professor, American Studies, GWSS, and English
Course: Interdisciplinary Research in American Studies

Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Professor, Spanish & Portuguese
Course: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Spanish

Nathan Platte, Professor, Music and Cinematic Arts; and Trevor Harvey, Professor, Music; with Rebekah Erdman, PhD candidate in Music
Course: Resonant Historical Ethnography: Musical Communities of Iowa's Past and Present

Erica Prussing, Professor, Anthropology and Native American & Indigenous Studies 
Course: Ethnographic Field Methods

Christine Shea, Professor, Spanish & Portuguese and Linguistics
Course: Sociolinguistics

Steve Warren, Professor, History and Native American & Indigenous Studies; with Petra Lang, PhD candidate in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education, College of Education
Course: Engaged Scholarship in the Humanities (History)

Deborah Whaley, Professor, African American Studies and English
Design Reflections 

Iowa City Public Library
Rooms A, B, and C
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City
3:00–3:30 p.m.

Celebrating All We've Accomplished and An Invitation to Join an Ongoing Humanities for the Public Good Learning Community

—Teresa Mangum

Iowa City Public Library
Rooms A, B, and C
123 S. Linn St., Iowa City



Warmest thanks to the following co-sponsoring departments and to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Graduate College, and the Office of the Vice President for Research for collaborating with us throughout our work with the Mellon Foundation Humanities for the Public Good Initiative. Thanks, too, to all who have served on our advisory board, including our postdoctoral scholars and graduate assistants.

Co-sponsoring departments & organizations: Iowa City Public Library, African American Studies, School of Art and Art History, American Studies, Anthropology, Cinematic Arts, Classics, Communication Studies, English Department, French and Italian, Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, School of Music, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Spanish and Portuguese

Guest Presenters

William Acree

William Acree

William Acree is Associate Vice Dean of Graduate Education; Professor of Spanish, American Culture Studies, and Performing Arts; and Co-Director of the Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures at Washington University, St. Louis. He is a transdisciplinary scholar whose research and teaching explore the cultural history of Latin America, the enduring impacts of everyday experiences, and the ways cultural goods and activities inflect public life, politics, and identities.

See his fascinating collaborative project, Stories That Win, a compilation of political origin stories, stories of community and national beginnings, heroic tales and product launches that people tell and retell. 

Antoinette Burton

Antoinette Burton

Antoinette Burton is Maybelle Leland Swanlund Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of History and Director of the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is a feminist historian of 19th and 20th century Britain and its empire whose work brings history from below into the discipline’s broader field of vision. Her academic training and her expertise in anti-imperial history together shape her daily engagements with institutional culture and power. As Director of HRI, she leads numerous Mellon grants, including Humanities Without Walls, a 16-university consortium that has hosted graduate summer workshops in career diversity for seven years in first Chicago, then Ann Arbor and Minneapolis and has funded multi-institutional research collaborations rooted in mutual reciprocity among faculty and graduate student researchers and often with community partners. She also directs the Mellon-funded Interseminars Initiative, which supports “collaborative teaching, sustained interdisciplinary inquiry, and public- and community-facing research in the humanities and arts.”

Stacy Hartman

Stacy Hartman

Stacy Hartman is an independent researcher, facilitator, and consultant. Formerly the director of the PublicsLab at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she led a $2.265 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Transforming Doctoral Education for the Public Good, she is co-editor of Graduate Education for a Thriving Humanities Ecosystem, published in November 2023 by the Modern Language Association.

Alan Liu

Alan Liu

Alan Liu is Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is co-founder and -leader of the international 4Humanities.org advocacy initiative as well as 4Humanities@UCSB. Liu and his colleagues are developing a new initiative called the Center for Humanities Communication, which would include training programs for graduate students among others in "humanities communication" on the model of the better established field, curricula, and profession of "science communication" and science writing.

Ashley Cheyemi McNeil

Ashley Cheyemi McNeil

Ashley Cheyemi McNeil is a public scholar and humanist with extensive experience working with cross-disciplinary teams of community partners, scholars, and stakeholders to create public-facing projects that disseminate stories and research. She is a former HPG Postdoctoral Fellow and currently serves as Director of Education and Research at Full Spectrum Features.

Laura Perry

Laura Perry

Laura Perry is ​Assistant Director for Research and Public Engagement at the Center for the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work engages with campus-community partnerships, environmental justice and digital publishing. She supports the humanities center’s key events and initiatives, such as Divided City, RDE and BECHS, and collaborates with the broader WashU humanities community to develop programming. She also co-organizes the Sumner StudioLab, a community-engaged hub located at historic Sumner High School that launched in 2022 and is supported by the Mellon Foundation as well as WashU’s Office of the Provost. She is also a former HPG Postdoctoral Fellow. 

Katina Rogers

Katina Rogers

Katina Rogers is an independent scholar, editor, and educational consultant, working with institutions to design and implement structures that are creative, sustainable, and equitable. She is the author of Putting the Humanities PhD to Work: Thriving in and beyond the Classroom (Duke University Press, 2020) and has served as co-director of the Futures Initiative at CUNY, an incubator that advances equity and innovation in higher education through student-centered teaching and learning, and promotes reinvestment in higher education as a public good; as co-director of the CUNY Humanities Alliance; Director of Programs and Administration of HASTAC; and as an adjunct faculty member in the GC’s Master’s Program in Digital Humanities. She earlier served as managing editor of MLA Commons at the Modern Language Association’s online platform designed to connect members with one another to foster collaboration, enrich discussion, and facilitate new modes of scholarly publishing.

Kathryn Temple

Kathryn Temple

Kathryn Temple, J.D., Ph.D. is a professor of law & humanities and former chair of the Department of English at Georgetown University. As the PI for the Georgetown Connected Academics project, funded by the Mellon Foundation through the MLA , she was the founding director of Georgetown’s Master of Arts in the Engaged and Public Humanities. For many years, she has worked with nontraditional students in varied contexts, offering writing workshops, pedagogical consulting, and classroom instruction. She continues this year for the sixth year to direct and teach in Georgetown’s Warrior Scholar Project, a program designed to help military veterans acculturate to higher education and serves on the Board of the organization. She publishes widely in Law & Emotion studies and most recently was the co-editor of the Research Handbook in Law and Emotion (Edward Elgar, 2021) and author of Loving Justice: Legal Emotions in William Blackstone's England (NYU, 2019). Her current book project is on the value of emotional ambivalence in life and law. 

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Erin Hackathorn in advance at 319-335-4034 or erin-hackathorn@uiowa.edu.