A collage of photos and archival images about the HPG internships

History Graduate Students Reflect on HPG Internships

Humanities for the Public Good RA Luke Borland sat down with fellow history Ph.D. students Ashley Dorn and Caleb Pennington to discuss their summer experiences working with community partners and how they connect their work to their scholarship. As HPG interns, Ashley Dorn worked with the University of Iowa Labor Center’s Iowa Women in Trades Network, and Caleb Pennington worked with University of Iowa Special Collections’ Historical Iowa Civil Rights Network.

  • What made you interested in the intern experience?

Caleb: The Humanities for the Public Good internship is a rare opportunity as a grad student to get paid as you receive real-world experience related to your studies. It is almost unheard of, especially as an early graduate student, to receive funding and an experience that’ll help your career trajectory and education.

Ashley: I was interested in having more variety in my CV and demonstrating some skills that would straddle a CV and a resume so that if I needed to build one or both, I would have experiences. I was also interested in working with the Labor Center, as I’d worked with them before and knew that they had projects that I was interested in being a part of and people I wanted to learn from.

  • What skills were most important when working with your community partner?

Ashley: The main skill that I used relentlessly was communication. Robin Clark-Bennett (Director, UI Labor Center) and I communicated very well in our weekly meetings, which balanced discussing practical day-to-day tasks and conceptual approaches to engaging with women in trades. Communications skills also helped me to talk to tradeswomen about their work and how they got into their careers and let them feel comfortable enough to share some of the obstacles that they’ve encountered along the way.

Caleb: Time management is a huge one, obviously, because it’s summer, not just for the interns themselves but also for the partners. The internship relied on my ability to handle my own time and balance a bunch of different tasks.  

Caleb Pennington discussing his summer work.
  • What is something unexpected you learned about the work your partner does?

Caleb: During my internship, I contacted these smaller community archives, and I was really surprised by how many communities don’t have historical societies or have severely underfunded ones. Many had only one person working eight or 10 hours a week to run the whole show. It was a real culture shock coming from Boston, where local historical societies are a bigger part of communities.

Ashley: While I knew the Labor Center wrote a lot of grants, my work with them allowed me to better see how they balanced grant deadlines with their other projects. I was also surprised to learn that they had a tool library to help people get started in the trades.

  • What are some new approaches you encountered?

Caleb: One of the big takeaways from the internship was a better understanding of digital humanities, especially public-facing digital humanities. For my project, I worked on an interactive Storymap of businesses found in the Green Book. I thought the work was fascinating, and as a result, I signed up for a digital humanities class through the Digital Studio this semester.

Ashley: The Labor Center team blended academic, legal, and organizing approaches with a personal touch on almost every project I saw. They held informative seminars on legal matters and then switched gears and checked in on an attendee from a past course all in a day.

Ashley Dorn discussing her summer work.
  • Did a specific day or experience from your work leave a lasting impression?

Ashley: At the first Iowa Women in Trades meeting, the presenter said, “Sexual harassment is a pretty common problem and I have a personal story that I could share, but I don’t, but my boss warned me that it might not be good for recruitment to lead with this story about how I had been harassed.” And Robin was like, “Well, this is a meeting of all women. So I think they’ll already know that.” That stuck with me because women come in very well versed in their own experience of it and don’t need education on the existence of these problems.

In these meetings, the women were much more strategy oriented and very practical. Robin and I observed that when you have meetings that are all tradeswomen, they already know about these issues and kind of weave them in and out of the conversation in a way that doesn’t happen when you have mixed company. Harassment was something that we talked about a lot without having to make a central spotlight all the time.

Caleb: I contacted some of these smaller museums and historical societies, and I found references to a huge civil rights collection from Davenport that the City of Davenport commissioned. I saw press releases for an exhibit, but I couldn’t find what happened to the materials after the exhibition. Eventually, I contacted the Putnam Museum, a science museum, which somehow ended up housing the collection in their basement. By finding these materials, I helped connect people with resources to learn about civil rights in Iowa that they might not have found on their own.

  • How did you see yourself applying your historical training to the work?

Caleb: This internship was good dissertation training because you have all these little pieces that you have to collect and organize, and slowly, they start to come together as a bigger project, like a dissertation.

Ashley: Reading previous collections of oral histories has helped me a lot. Reading helped me think about the questions that I would ask. It helped me notice some of the things that tradeswomen like to emphasize in their interviews. For instance, I could get a sense of each trade by asking them about their tools. My history training also gave me ideas for how to structure the Iowa Women in Trades Network website.

  • How do your experiences connect with your research?

Ashley: The basic pattern of reading previous work and then gathering new sources was something that I learned from being a historian. And over the summer, I had the pleasure of talking to my sources instead of reading them by doing publicly engaged work, which was very fun and rewarding, especially over the summer, even if it was over zoom. I think it kind of reinforced advice that I’ve heard as a graduate student before, which is to kind of keep your reading and writing on a cycle and not to do too long of a stretch of just one or the other.

  • Did this experience illuminate any new career paths for you?

Ashley: I would say the internship built my confidence that my ability to research a topic and communicate with coworkers or a boss has grown through graduate schoolwork and the various professional experiences I’ve had here. It made me feel more confident that I could find a good job outside of the university because my skills are valuable to people who want information and communication to be part of their business

Caleb: This internship got me thinking about more career possibilities. During the internship, the workshops helped me articulate how my skills are practical outside of my education.

  • Has this experience changed how you view yourself as a scholar? Would you define yourself as a public-facing scholar?

Caleb: The internship gave me a better understanding of how to be accessible to the public and what a public audience is interested in learning.

Ashley: I think doing scholarship with and for the public is a healthy part of scholastic life, even if I don’t consider myself a public-facing scholar.

Read more here about the Summer 2021 HPG internships and enjoy more videos here of HPG interns discussing their experiences.

2020-2021 HPG Annual Report

The Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) initiative is laying the groundwork for a new interdisciplinary, collaborative, and practice-based humanities PhD. Imagining a world transformed by humanities scholar-practitioners, we are designing a program that will support students and humanities scholars who want to connect disciplinary expertise with careers dedicated to social justice and the public good. Funded through a four-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and supported by the Graduate College, HPG is hosted by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and has been supported by an advisory board composed of faculty, academic staff, and graduate students. In this report, we provide a brief overview of our work in 2020-21.

HPG Supports New Approaches to Pedagogy and Course Design 

When many of our planned events proved unsustainable during the COVID-19 pandemic, we treated that necessary pivot as a chance to reflect on the core values and purposes of our work as a team and on our aspirations for graduate education. To do so, we turned to Liberating Structures, a democratic approach to facilitation that encourages trust and collective meaning-making. We asked Liberating Structures facilitators Anna Jackson and Fisher Qua to help us develop an inclusive, equitable approach to pedagogy that could work through COVID, while also addressing our larger goal of moving toward a student-centered, justice-oriented graduate program. Ultimately, we hosted a series of virtual workshops designed to share Liberating Structures methods with faculty, staff, graduate students, and at a number of other universities, whose humanities center directors attended. 

  • In Summer 2020, a series of workshops imagined graduate education as embracing complexity, solving problems, and working for justice, while also exploring practices for stimulating conversation and liberating the full potential of groups. 
  • In Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, HPG Postdoctoral Fellow Ashley Cheyemi McNeil organized a UIowa Liberating Structures User Group which helped participants practice with LS structures and supported facilitation in classrooms, meetings, and teams across campus.
  • In Summer 2021, a series of workshops encouraged participants to carry hard won knowledge from the previous year into their current arts or scholarly project and guided them through a values-driven action plan for next steps.

We held nine workshops to teach Liberating Structures methods, with over 200 people in attendance. These workshops not only laid a strong foundation for our future graduate program. They had the unexpected but powerful additional effect of transforming many spaces and communities on campus. We have heard of and been witness to Liberating Structures methods being used in undergraduate and graduate courses, faculty and staff meetings, community-engaged partnerships, and a variety of other settings to help facilitate complex conversations and decision-making. In our work with a program evaluator this fall, we hope to track and evaluate the broader impacts of our Liberating Structures training. 

A commitment to equity and to culturally attuned pedagogy also informed our Course Redesign Minigrants. The goal was to inspire faculty to align courses in their departments–which our future students might wish to take–more closely with the values and objectives of HPG.

  • In Fall 2020, awardees included eleven faculty across ten departments and three colleges (Liberal Arts & Sciences, Education and the Graduate College)
  • In Summer 2021, awardees included seven faculty across six departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Social Work. 

Two cohorts of faculty redesigned graduate courses to foster a more equitable, inclusive, and student-centered pedagogy. Collaboratively, they imagined not only how graduate training can prepare students for various careers, but also how graduate curriculum can be enriched by diverse voices and perspectives. 

2021 Graduate Institute Fellows

Our LS team also coached us in adapting their democratic, inclusive method to several of our major activities during the year. In January 2021, HPG Postdoctoral Fellows Ashley Cheyemi McNeil and Laura Perry co-designed and led the 2021 Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. This week-long institute had taken place for nearly 15 years, but was occurring online for the first time. Liberating Structures offered ways to build community and facilitate tough, complex conversations in a virtual space. Graduate students participating in the Institute also left with LS methods in their repertoire and were able to apply them immediately to their on-campus teaching and off-campus engaged projects.

In Summer 2021, PI Teresa Mangum collaborated with Professor David Cwiertny, a hydrologist in the College of Engineering, who has a grant with similar objectives for engineering students. Together, they organized a week-long Summer Institute on Cross-Disciplinary Graduate Education. This workshop, which brought together 21 faculty members from nine colleges, also adapted Liberating Structures methods as the faculty explored future opportunities for experiential, student-centered, team-taught courses.

Coming Together in Crises, Working Groups Design Innovative Curriculum 

One cornerstone of Humanities for the Public Good has always been the insights and designs emerging from HPG’s energetic and collaborative Working Groups. Over the past two years, Working Groups have explored how the humanities can be invigorated through imaginative collaborations and partnerships. We experienced a vivid, immediate demonstration of the importance of humanities social justice work when we found ourselves shifting overnight due to the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to the killing of Black Americans, and grappling with subsequent attacks on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. As our Working Groups shifted to virtual communities, they quickly came to see how collective experiential learning offers community, strength, and purpose. Their work paved new paths for humanities graduate education and to careers that would be enriched by employees with advanced studies in the humanities.

The 2020-2021 Working Groups grounded their work in the thoughtful research of the previous year’s Advisory Board members. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the Advisory Board was organized into five Working Groups. They investigated the structural integrity of traditional humanities doctoral training, asking what parts of the degree should be sustained in an HPG degree and which parts should be reimagined. Teams of UI faculty, staff, and students researched possible building blocks of a new PhD, considering career pathways, community engagement, graduate student internships, and curriculum. They asked how courses, dissertations, and degrees might be structured in a Humanities for the Public Good PhD program. Read more about the 2019-2020 working groups and their key recommendations in this report

To view the full slide deck of our May 2021 retreat, click here.

While the 2019-20 year was based on investigation and research, in 2020-21 we turned to invention and design. Having seen the great success of the summer 2020 internship program, we focused on deep experiential learning options that included opportunities to work with public partners. Ultimately, we settled on the emerging model of the humanities lab. Like their counterparts in the sciences, humanities labs foreground inquiry, exploration, and collaboration. Often based on the creation or development of a specific project, humanities labs are spaces (physical or intellectual) where transdisciplinary teams convene to respond to a hypothesis or problem of importance in the world and across communities. Once again, we organized the Advisory Board into five Working Groups, asking each to design a humanities lab. We charged the groups to imagine collaborative projects based on wicked problems, including racial justice, environmental change, and pandemics. We encouraged the Working Groups to translate the best of humanities methods, subjects, and practices into the action-oriented learning a lab structure could make possible.

At key points in the design process, we learned from the work of humanities lab leaders across the U.S. and Canada. In September 2020, we began our year of design by inviting lab leaders from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Indiana University, and Arizona State University to speak with us about the innovative work made possible by the intellectual and physical spaces of humanities labs. At our mid-year retreat, we hosted an in-depth conversation with humanities and social science lab leaders from Cornell University, Duke University, Memorial University of Canada, and the University of Michigan about how to launch humanities labs and sustain them in viable, ethical ways. Read more about these Humanities Labs here.

The Public Good Working Group re-imagined the comprehensive exam.

Working Groups considered the facets of their chosen wicked problem, identified the strengths and resources already available at the University of Iowa, and designed a lab prototype. The reflections and insights of the working groups in 2019-2020 carried forward to this year’s cohort and informed their lab designs in many ways. For instance, one group, initially brought together by the large topic of “the public good,” re-envisioned the traditional comprehensive exam as a project-based, community-engaged internship experience. The Public Good Working Group identified the comprehensive exam as an effective lever to pull to transform the nature of humanities degrees, to turn the often alienating solitude of preparing for comps into a communal project, and to support the whole person of graduate students through their program experience. 

As they designed their humanities labs, members of the Working Groups considered how a degree program could be built around such collaboration and how classes and applied learning opportunities could be woven together through a lab model. We grounded our inquiry in practical questions: how would we create teams and resources; design courses; pace, fund, and complete multi-year humanities labs in collaboration with departments and campus units? 

A Racial Justice Working Group responded to our national reckoning by staying local.

The Community-Engaged Racial Justice Working Group designed a structure for 2-year lab cycles of collaboration with a community partner around a hyper-local expression of racial justice. Realizing that “doing” community engaged racial justice work here in Iowa is a unique and complex process, this group is first co-creating a toolkit to guide this work, which will be useful for other labs and for departments and centers across campus engaged in collaborations around racial justice. 

The Environmental Change Working Group developed innovative curriculum.

Working Groups also asserted that humanities graduate curricula could be enriched through collaborative, problem-based research made possible by these humanities labs. The Environmental Change Working Group proposed a cluster of courses at the intersections of departments, disciplines, and public engagement with, for example, climate change organizations. The projects and partnerships made possible by these courses would integrate humanities methods with scientific expertise and community approaches to understand and address environmental change. 

A Racial Justice Working Group landed on the urgent intersections of health equity and the humanities.

Another group, charged to build a lab focused on racial justice, found that they shared a sense of urgency and depth of knowledge about health equity and racial disparities in medicine. Taking seriously the University of Iowa’s core institutional identities as a writing and humanities powerhouse and as the leading medical center for the state, this Health and Racial Justice Working Group is developing a range of curricular offerings to prepare humanities graduate students to collaborate actively with medical professionals as they explore the histories and complexities of medicine, health, and the medical-industrial complex. These courses and the lab itself will ideally act as bridge-builders, bringing together humanities researchers and healthcare practitioners to use their combined expertise to tackle race, gender, and class inequities in medical settings, which too often harm the most vulnerable patients. 

The Pandemics Working Group modeled new forms of support during a turbulent year.

In the spirit of a lab working environment, groups convened around open-ended questions and trusted the process of collaboration as they built their own communities this year. This form of research and inquiry felt countercultural to traditional metrics of success and helped to sustain group members during a year that asked so much and left so little room for reflection and experimentation. The Pandemics Working Group, for example, focused on Inquiry Amidst Catastrophe. Inspired by Peter Felten’s concept of Formation Mentoring Communities, the working group developed a deep and sustained mentoring structure for the HPG program, where faculty, staff, students, and community partners can gather to support and guide professional projects and goals. Living their emerging design, they prioritized the value of a stable, intentional community to support both professional and personal development. 

We are deeply grateful for the insights of the 2020-2021 HPG Working Groups, for their willingness to actively design new forms of graduate education, and for their wholehearted support of one another during a turbulent year. Explore the full slide deck from our May 2021 year-end retreat here. Several of the Working Groups elected to continue working together in Summer and Fall 2021, to push forward on their existing designs and develop new forms of humanities graduate education. These Working Groups will initiate pilot courses, create toolkits intended for both public and academic audiences, connect with community partners, deepen cross-campus collaborations, and design courses to support the launch of HPG Humanities Labs in the coming years.

Graduate Internships Build Local Roots, Have a National Impact 

Even as we continued to plan and develop curriculum, HPG has also launched a pilot program in experiential learning via graduate internships that has proven to be a great success and that we know will be a strong, important part of the eventual program. Led by Jennifer New, Associate Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, the HPG Graduate Summer Internship Program has connected 27 UI graduate students with ten local organizations, including theaters, nonprofits, museums, archives, and environmental organizations. We’re delighted (though not surprised!) that many internships and informational interviews over these past three years have led to job offers and other professional opportunities for HPG interns.

Interns spent two summer months working with and for a campus or community partner on a thoughtfully designed project. Students attended weekly cohort meetings to learn and practice various professionalizing skills. Via a shared writing space, they also reflected on what they learned in the field and how it applies to their individual career paths. Interns also conducted several informational interviews, to gain further insights about potential careers both on and off campuses. We are deeply grateful for the patient, creative, resourceful mentors in the internship sites who not only worked closely with the students but also taught and learned with us about the possibilities of graduate internships. This 2020 report compiled by Jennifer New shares more about previous graduate internships and lessons learned

The internships this year demonstrated the tremendous power of bringing together humanities skills and methods with social justice work. Interns helped local arts organizations assess their programming impact and intended audiences, producing reports about the impact of virtual programming for a local theater and the art programming needs of local school districts. Another worked to understand the significance and future potential of a newly-acquired archive of over 2,000 VHS tapes for a local nonprofit. Interns were able to flex their digital skills in public-facing projects, including an interactive map, a virtual timeline of Tom Brokaw’s press passes, podcast episodes about labor strikes, video interviews with immigrant and BIPOC food producers, and a website of current and historical Black-owned businesses in Johnson County. Watch interns speak about their internship experiences here and read their blog posts here

HPG has been excited by the growing interest in graduate internships both at University of Iowa and nationally. We know there are many looking for ways to build or expand graduate internship offerings across the country. Leonard Cassuto celebrated the HPG internship program in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article speaking to the broader need for more programs like this one. At UI, the English and History departments partnered with the AAU and the UI Graduate College to offer virtual internships at national institutions like the Library of Congress. We have already begun exchanging ideas and learning from one another in a series of conversations between internship program directors and site partners. 

HPG Program Carves Future Paths, Together 

In 2021-2022, the work continues in earnest. Working Groups will actively design and test out new forms of humanities courses and trainings designed to equip graduate students to serve the public good. Workshops and events will invite the UI community and the broader public to join in conversations about reimagining graduate education. Next summer, we hope that another round of HPG internships will offer a new cohort of humanities graduate students the opportunity to sharpen their humanities skills and commitments in the service of Iowa City organizations and communities. Most importantly, the Humanities for Public Good team will work to actively engage UI departments with humanities graduate degrees in the Humanities Lab design process, in community-engaged projects, and in planning for the HPG degree.

To stay in the loop about our work here at Humanities for the Public Good, subscribe to our mailing list to receive monthly newsletters and other occasional announcements. 

Humanities Labs

Like their counterparts in the sciences, humanities labs foreground inquiry, exploration, and collaboration. Often based on the creation or development of a specific project, humanities labs are spaces (physical or intellectual) where transdisciplinary teams convene to respond to a hypothesis or problem of pressing significance in the world and across communities. 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Funded Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) Working Groups Design Humanities Labs, Innovative Curriculum 

In 2020-2021, HPG Working Groups composed of faculty, staff, and graduate students met regularly to design Humanities Labs, courses, and programs that offer experiential, interdisciplinary, and applied learning experiences for humanities graduate students. Working Groups began with a wicked problem, too large and complex to address with one approach or discipline alone. They focused on Environmental Change, Racial Justice, Pandemics, the Public Good. Some Working Groups designed labs around innovative, transdisciplinary curriculum that engaged their wicked problem, such as the Environmental Change and Healthcare and Racial Justice Working Groups. Other groups focused on programmatic design for the HPG doctoral degree, such as the Public Good Working Group’s vision for a project-based comprehensive exam via an internship with a community partner, and the Pandemics Working Group’s design for a mentoring and advising structure that offers graduate students intentional and holistic support throughout their degree. We invite you to read more about the lab design process of the Working Groups and other HPG programs in our 2020-2021 Annual Report.

Hearing from Humanities Labs Directors: 

To help us understand the many forms and approaches of humanities labs, we asked humanities labs directors at universities across the U.S. and Canada to describe their own labs. In September 2020, national lab leaders generously offered their insights about the learning made possible by humanities labs, compiled together in the following video:

(View the time-toggled transcript of the video by selecting the three dots [⋯] to the right of the Like button [👍 ] at the bottom of the video and then selecting Open Transcript.)

At a November 2020 virtual retreat hosted by Humanities for the Public Good, lab leaders from the U.S. and Canada shared their insights about the tangible steps that can make successful labs a reality. Read their thought pieces here

Humanities Labs (an incomplete list of 20+ and counting…) 

  • Arizona State University’s Humanities Labs, where lab courses are team-taught and centered on “grand social challenges,” including
  • Aging in American Culture, Deconstructing Race, and the intersections of Food, Health, and Climate.
  • University of Michigan’s DISCO (Digital Inquiry, Speculation, Collaboration, and Optimism) Network is a new consortium of interdisciplinary labs across five universities that will address topics such as racial and gender inequality, disability justice and techno-ableism, and digital racial politics. New labs include: Purdue University’s Humanities and Technoscience Lab, University of Maryland’s Black Communication and Technology Lab, and University of Michigan’s Digital Accessible Futures Lab. 
  • University of Illinois Chicago’s The Freshwater Lab, which engages students, community members, grassroots leaders, academic researchers and elected officials to tackle pressing Great Lakes issues, encouraging creative engagement through courses, events, fellowships, and digital story collections. 
  • University of Minnesota’s River Life, which concluded in 2020 after more than eleven years and which continues to foster ongoing river and water work, the Open Rivers journal, and community-engaged work around Indigenous water history and practices.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Headwaters Lab, an interdisciplinary group of researchers working at the intersection of public engagement and freshwater ecosystems and conducting social and ecological research about stream restoration, flooding, watershed-based agricultural conservation, and fisheries management. 
  • Philadelphia’s Monument Lab, an independent art and research studio that emerged from a series of courses at University of Pennsylvania. The Monument Lab works with artists, students, educators, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions on participatory approaches to public engagement and collective memory. 
  • Indiana University’s Experimental Humanities Lab, a collaborative research-based lab that uses qualitative and quantitative methods to understand narrative. The lab team has published on topics like empathy, moral reasoning and moral ambiguity, side-taking, untold stories, memory and retelling, and excuses in legal and medical settings. 
  • Lehigh University’s Humanities Lab, spotlighting the intersections of research and teaching through interdisciplinary and co-taught courses in fields like anthropology, architecture, Asian studies, environmental science, and mechanical engineering. 
  • Colby College’s Humanities Lab, which promotes experiential learning by incorporating observation, hands-on experimentation, and skill-building perspectives more commonly associated with the natural sciences. Courses have partnered with the Colby Museum of Art, Special Collections in Miller Library, and off-campus locations across Maine. 
  • The Immersive Reality Lab in the Humanities, an independent workgroup for digital and experimental humanities directed by a professor of English at Amherst College. Projects include a digital memorial to Black Brooklyn as well as creative remixings of poetry, prose, and dance in digital spaces. 
  • Emerson College’s Engagement Lab, a research-based design lab focused on studying and designing media and technology that is reshaping civic life. The Engagement Lab offers an MA in Media Design, taught through the lens of civic media, which aims to design media interventions that support positive civic and social impact in the world
  • University of Colorado Boulder’s Unstable Design Lab, a group of technologists, artists, designers, and researchers who share an approach that pairs design and making with critical thinking and reflection, combining and developing methods that blend anthropology, art, and engineering. 
  • Harvard University’s Gender Sci Lab, a collaborative, interdisciplinary research lab dedicated to generating feminist concepts, methods, and theories for scientific research on sex and gender through research, teaching, and public outreach.
  • Vanderbilt University’s Critical Design Lab, a collaborative of disabled artists, designers, and design researchers. They use digital media and social practice to craft replicable protocols that support accessibility and disability justice, such as workshops, journals, maps, showcases, podcasts, and dance parties. 
  • Virginia Tech’s Tech4Humanity Lab, a transdisciplinary laboratory focusing on the impact of technology on the human condition and combining practices from political science, law, computer science, humanities, engineering, business, biology, public health, and area studies.

A collage of photos and archival images about the HPG internships

Working the Humanities: Humanities Graduate Students Share Their Internship Experiences

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 – 4:00pm REGISTER.

While internships are an established part of professional and science graduate programs, they have been a less common opportunity for humanities graduate students. Now, departments and universities are realizing the many benefits for encouraging humanities graduate students to participate in workplace learning. These experiences provide students with a chance to apply their skills, ranging from archival research to critical analysis, to workplaces outside of the academy. Internships bolster students’ confidence and widen their interest in careers beyond faculty roles. In some cases, an internship helps a student to fine tune their research focus or reenergizes them for the dissertation process. Least of all, these collaborative experiences give workplace partners a keener sense of the advantages offered by workers with advanced degrees.

The University of Iowa is at the vanguard of internship experiences for humanities graduate students, first via its Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) Summer Internship program and now with the Iowa Digital Internships in the Humanities (IDIH) program. HPG just completed its third summer and has 27 alumni, while the IDIH completed its first summer, with 4 student participants.  

We invite you to learn more about the work of the students in these two programs, first through a digital poster session and then via two panels.

This virtual event is free and open to the public, but registration is required: REGISTER.

Agenda & Participants

  • 4:00 to 4:15 pm — Digital poster session. Come into the space and look at students’ presentations of their work.
  • 4:15-4:45 pm — Student Fishbowl. Hear from a group of Summer ’21 interns about their work and the benefits they’ve experienced:
    • Tyler Snelling (Communication Studies), National Czech & Slovak Museum
    • Patrick Johnson (Journalism & Mass Communication) UI Special Collections
    • Bronwyn Stewart (English) The Englert and FilmScene
    • Luke Borland (History) Library of Congress
  • 4:45-5:15 pm — Community Partners’ Experiences:
    • Kate Moreland, Director, Iowa City Area Development, and Aja Witt (Journalim & Mass Communication)
    • Robin Clark Bennett (UI Labor Center) and Ashley Dorn (History)

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 or (319) 335-4034.


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