Monday, November 8, 2010

Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English, asks herself and her students how literature and the arts help us grasp the ways communities view and therefore treat one another. Mangum not only studies and discusses these ideas; she goes a step further by connecting academic work to community needs.

The Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy, a project supported by the Graduate College, is a week-long intensive seminar where 15 competitively chosen graduate students learn best practices for taking their research out into the state of Iowa and even the world. The students and community partners design projects that address pressing social needs.

Mangum, who was named the new director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies on July 1, truly believes in the importance of a richly diverse education. "Studying literature, history, and the arts, we grasp the values and conflicts that define cultures," Mangum said. "Understanding our past and our differences offers crucial insight into how we might shape our future.  In other words, the humanities offer a path to ethical relationships and a just society."

In addition to teaching, Mangum is a member of the UI Press Advisory Board. The UI Press has given her and her students an opportunity to continue learning in areas outside their expertise. "Thanks to the Press, I have also learned about many of Iowa's treasures from books about photography to the wonderful Midwest nature guides," Mangum said.