Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Obermann Center offers a growing number of opportunities for UI graduate students—from courses to a research assistantship. As we begin the 2015-16 academic year, we wanted to provide an overview for students, as well as for faculty advisors and graduate directors. 

Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy

This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our signature program, the Obermann Graduate Institute for Engagement and the Academy. Over 150 students have explored ways to build community engagement and public partnership into teaching, arts practice, research, and future careers. Led by two faculty members in collaboration with our Assistant Director, Jennifer New, the Institute has welcomed students from nearly every College at the University. Students accepted into this competitive program receive a stipend of $500 to attend the week-long Institute the week in January. Inspired by the faculty, students, and community partners who generously share their expertise, Institute participants have developed projects that animate and deepen their research while benefiting their communities. Just to note a few examples—Kirsten Beyer, a geographer working in health communications, studied colon cancer with a hard hit Iowa community. Her project led to a major dissertation prize and a job at a major research university. In English Ph.D. Bridget Draxler’s class, students researched biographies for an app featuring Iowa City authors. She tells us her Institute experience helped her secure a position as professor and director of a civic engagement center at a liberal arts college. (Since graduation, her engaged scholarship has also been rewarded with a National Endowment for the Humanities and Newberry Library fellowships). The list keeps growing.

Humanities Without Walls Summer Workshop

Thanks to the Center’s membership in the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls (HWW) consortium of 15 Midwestern universities, the Center nominates four students for The Alternative Academic Career Workshop for Pre-Doctoral Students in the Humanities. The three-week summer workshop is organized by staff members of the Chicago Humanities Festival and held in Chicago. Participants meet leaders in publishing, museums, libraries, non-profits, and cultural start ups. Graduate students in the humanities and related disciplines are welcome to apply. Two students from each member institution will be selected.

HASTAC Scholars

The Center is a member of HASTAC—the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, Technology Advanced Collaboratory—a virtual community that includes individuals around the world. We provide funding for one to two HASTAC Scholars each year to share news of digital projects at the Center and on campus with the HASTAC community and to help the Obermann Center create a vibrant social media presence. HASTAC Scholars work with the Center an average of 30-40 hours over the course of a year and receive a stipend of $500. You’ll find information about the early fall application on our website.

Obermann Courses

The Obermann Center offers courses through a collaboration with the Graduate College. Often, faculty members who are organizing the annual Obermann Humanities Symposium teach a one-hour short course to prepare graduate students to participate fully in the Symposium. Students study work by speakers coming to campus for the Symposium, discuss how to ask “good” questions in a scholarly venue, and often take an active role in the conference by tweeting or blogging their responses to the event to include scholars around the world. The Center also hosts the introductory course to the Public Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate. If you’d like to learn about digital technologies for teaching and research and to meet a number of faculty members on campus who are teaching DH-related courses, we welcome you to enroll. You’ll find the fall 2015 course, taught by our new Postdoctoral Fellow, Christina Boyles, on ISIS as GRAD 7920:0001 Obermann Center Theory/Practice Dig Hum.

Research Assistantship

This year we are offering a graduate research assistantship and participating in a program with the College of Business that will enable a second graduate student to work at the Center. Our hope is that through the assistantship program we can give students experience in the many areas of expertise involved in administration from communications to program development to project management to collaboration. We will send out a call for applications for next year early in the spring.

Working Groups

Each year the Obermann Center hosts working groups on a range of topics. Groups meet three times each semester and can apply for funding to purchase books, host visitors, etc. Graduate students are welcome to contact the directors of the groups to ask to participate. You’ll find the current Working Groups on the Obermann website.


While the Center does not have funding for graduate fellowships, we are happy to provide a home for graduate students who receive external fellowships and would like to affiliate with us. Graduate Fellows share all the benefits of faculty Fellows. The Center can provide an office, staff support, and a $1,000 research stipend. Graduate Fellows also participate in the bi-weekly Fellows’ work-in-progress seminar. If you would like to propose an Obermann Center Residency in your applications for external grants, please contact Director Teresa Mangum for a letter of support.


You will find deadlines and information about applying for these programs on our website. We also encourage you to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter and to follow us on FB and Twitter for the latest information on opportunities for graduate students.