Working Groups

Space, structure, and discretionary funding

Obermann Center Working Groups provide space, structure, and discretionary funding for groups led by faculty that may include advanced graduate students, staff members, and community members with a shared intellectual interest. Groups have used this opportunity to explore new work and to share their own research, to organize a symposium, and to develop grant proposals. 

This program allows participants from across the campus and beyond to explore complex issues at a moment when cross-disciplinary collaboration is crucial to address shifting domains of knowledge and a rapidly changing world.

Working Groups:

  • have one or two co-directors; one must be a UI faculty member
  • attend an orientation meeting in the fall
  • meet a minimum of once a month throughout the academic year
  • must provide a list of participating members to the Obermann Center
  • provide a one-page report on their activities at the end of the academic year
  • give a brief, informal presentation of the group's work in the spring at a meeting set by the Obermann Center
  • may continue their work to the next academic year but must reapply for funding in the spring
  • can apply for up to $1,000 to support their activities

Note that groups may apply for up to $1,000 in discretionary funds; however, these funds cannot be used for food, and they must be used by the end of the spring semester.   

If you would like to join an already established Working Group, please email the group's director(s) or Click the "Present and Past" tab above for a list of current Working Groups.

To propose or express your interest in joining a special Working Group on environmental futures, please visit the Apply tab.


Applications are due the second Tuesday of April each year. Applications for 2020–21 Working Groups were due April 28, 2020. 

Applications for 2021–22 Working Groups are due April 13, 2021 (5:00 p.m.).


    • At least one director must be a faculty member whose appointment requires significant research, including scholarship and work in the arts—or a P&S staff with a terminal degree in an area related to the proposed topic.
    • Upper-level graduate students may serve as co-directors or participants.
    • Current Working Groups may reapply; applications should indicate that yours would be a continuing group.
    • Note: Obermann Working Groups have included graduate students, staff members, community members, and even, in some cases, long distance members who join via the internet. We welcome directors of the Working Groups to use this program to create space for inter-sectoral as well as interdisciplinary conversations.

    Required Items

    Send the following as ONE PDF to

    • Description of your topic that concisely explains its significance and your desired objectives as a group.
    • CV for the director or co-directors of no more than two pages each.
    • List of at least six probable participants.