2018–19 Working Group: Personalization Algorithms and Bias in Social Media

What do Working Groups do?

What don’t they do?! Some groups function as workshops in which members share their work in progress. Others draw up a set of readings they want to undertake and discuss. Others—especially longer term, established groups—have organized conferences, applied for grants together, written articles together, designed new courses, taken field trips, organized film festivals, forged relationships with community partners, invited speakers via Zoom or in person, developed podcasts, and more.

At the beginning of each semester, we invite Working Group directors over for coffee. That’s a great time to learn from other directors what kinds of activities your group might want to try.

Space, structure, & 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 (open to all tracks)
  • 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

Please note: 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. In addition, Working Group (co-)directors may (co-)direct only one Obermann Working Group per year.

How to organize a Working Group

We invite applications each spring for the following academic year. One of the directors must be a faculty member, and you should indicate that at least six people have expressed interest in participating. View instructions about how to apply.

If you would like to join an already established Working Group, please email the group's director(s) or

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Apply or Reapply

Deadlines, eligibility, and application information.

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2024–25 Working Groups

Current Working Groups and their directors. If you would like to join an already established Working Group, please email the group's director(s) or

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Resources for Working Groups

For current Working Group directors & members

How often do you need to meet? How do you access your funding? How do you host an event as a Working Group? How can Obermann staff help to advertise your event?

Please consult this page for funding, publicity, event, and leadership guidance.

Past Working Groups

Lists of past Working Groups and their directors.