Humanities for the Public Good Closing Symposium: A Celebration

Humanities for the Public Good Closing Symposium: A Celebration promotional image

This symposium 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, 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 a 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.


  • William Acree, Associate Vice Dean of Graduate Education; Professor of Spanish, American Culture Studies, and Performing Arts; and Co-Director, Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures, Washington University
  • Antoinette Burton, Maybelle Leland Swanlund Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of History and Director of the Humanities Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Alan Liu, Distinguished Professor, Department of English, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Kathryn Temple, Founding Director of the MA in Public Humanities and Professor of English, Georgetown University
  • Ashley Cheyemi McNeil, former HPG Postdoctoral Fellow and currently Director of Education for Full Spectrum Features
  • Laura Perry, former HPG Postdoctoral Fellow and currently Assistant Director for Research and Public Engagement at the Center for the Humanities at Washington University, St. Louis
  • Stacy Hartman, Hartman Consulting (humanities entrepreneur, facilitator, writer, researcher, project manager)
  • Katina Rogers, independent scholar, editor, and educational consultant


This symposium is free and open to all. For the schedule and speaker bios, please visit

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.

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.

Friday, March 1 10:00am to Saturday, March 2, 2024 3:30pm
Iowa City Public Library
123 South Linn Street, Iowa City, IA 52240
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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