Cross-institutional opportunities for collaborative research, teaching, & the production of scholarship in the humanities

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is proud to be a member of the Andrew W. Mellon funded Humanities Without Walls consortium

In 2015, the Mellon Foundation awarded funding to the Institute for Humanities Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to fund a consortium of 16 humanities institutes in the Midwest. By leveraging the strengths of multiple distinctive campuses, the initiative, Humanities Without Walls, has created new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation. The program has created a wealth of materials on responsive, mutual, reciprocal collaborations through the two programs the grant has supported:

  1. Cross-institutional Grand Research Challenges collaborations
  2. A series of Career Diversity Workshops for graduate students

Our faculty members and students have benefited from both programs, and Louise Seamster, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology and African American Studies, is currently leading “The Flint Water Disaster Public Archive.”

Obermann Sub-Award from HWW

While the summer Career Workshop focused on preparing graduate students for diverse careers, HWW now wants to prepare humanities faculty to be better mentors, advisors, and advocate for students who want to use their graduate training in careers beyond the professoriate. HWW awarded the Obermann Center a grant to design a program to meet that goal.

Preparing Faculty

Our original planning committee (Professor Teresa Mangum, CLAS Associate Deans Roland Racevskis and Christine Getz, and Assistant Director Brady Krien, Graduate College, led by Professor Ken Brown from the College of Business) attended an HWW training. Joined by Assistant Vice President for Research Kristy Nabhan-Warren, they then met with business and nonprofit leaders in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids to learn about their needs and their interest in hiring humanities MA and PHD graduates. Inspired by their conversations, Obermann Faculty Fellow Naomi Greyser and Obermann Assistant Director Lauren Cox worked with the team to design a rehearsal for faculty and graduate students interested in connecting with public partners.

Obermann HWW Faculty Externship on Graduate Career Diversity

For a decade, many faculty members in the humanities have struggled to support graduate students who express interest in careers other than being a professor. We send them to the brilliant career experts in the Graduate College; we introduce them to alumni with fascinating careers. But what have those of us who are faculty, as faculty, done to educate ourselves about the world of work beyond the classroom? What do we know about “adjacent” careers?

This Mellon-funded summer program offers humanities faculty members and experts from one large career sector—nonprofits—to explore potential connections. During the past five years, the Obermann Center has hosted nearly 50 graduate internships. One thing we’ve learned is that humanities graduate students are often deeply drawn to nonprofits. Careers in this sector resonate strongly with graduate students’ values. Nonprofits are spaces where the mindsets and skills of the humanities align with nonprofit needs. For example, humanities student excel at asking illuminating questions, synthesizing complex ideas, conducting rigorous research, writing with clarity and awareness of the needs of varied audiences, teaching, facilitating, managing projects, and collaborating thoughtfully.

Applications are due May 15, 2024!

Learn more & apply