January 2023

Impact of Community Engagement Programs

Across Campus Grows in 2023

January is underway, and classes will be starting soon. The Office of Community Engagement is looking forward to promoting and sharing the many exciting community engagement projects and partnerships launching with the start of the new year. Nearly fifty community-engaged courses, designated in MyUI, begin this month and will connect hundreds of Hawkeyes to community partners across Iowa and beyond while enriching learning experiences and making a difference in our communities.

Launching this month is the second cohort of the Graduate Engagement Corps (GEC), which hosts thirty graduate and professional students who will be completing a three-day introduction to the pillars of community-engaged learning and research, with visits to local community partners. Students in the GEC will now begin to deploy community-engaged research practices and connect with community partners across the state and beyond to start impacting Iowa communities.

The dedication and support that faculty, students, and community partners have shown in their resolve to make a difference through community engagement continue to inspire us at the OCE. We look forward to connecting with you, perhaps through one of the new engagement initiatives taking shape across campus this year, and we wish you the best of luck with the new semester.

In partnership,

Nick Benson

Executive Director

Event Spotlight

This seminar will provide an overview of community-engaged research, including definitions of the various engaged research approaches and best practices that researchers should consider when developing a community-engaged research project. The Seeding Excellence: OVPR’s Community-Engaged Scholars Proposals will also be discussed in detail, giving participants a clear understanding of the grant program and the application process. 

Participants in this seminar will come away with a better understanding of the community-engaged research process and be better equipped to submit a Letter of Interest to the Community-Engaged Scholars program.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CST

UCC Seminar Room - UCC 2520D

Register Here
Voices of Community Engagement

Graduate Engagement Corps member secures $50,000 grant from Office of Vice President for Research

Project focused on elevating stories of refugees and immigrants through community engagement now in the second phase 

Our Voices of Community Engagement story for December features Yuchen Liu - Ph.D. Candidate,Sunday Goshit - Vice President of the African Communities Network of Iowa, Teresa Stecker -Executive Director of IC Compassion, and Peter Gerlach - Adjunct Assistant

Professor & International Writing Program Coordinator

Building on her experience as an international student from Nanjing, China, Yuchen Liu, a Ph.D. candidate from the College of Education and ESL Program at the University of Iowa, had a vision that began to take shape in 2020. 

Led by a passion for intercultural communication and the power of storytelling, she created a prototype for an app that would share stories of people coming into the United States and their experiences and struggles adapting to the differences in culture. 

Liu's goal was that the application would be a central resource, housing stories of experience and tips for navigating challenging situations in multiple languages and from different perspectives from people coming in from countries worldwide. 

In pursuit of that goal, Liu joined the Graduate Engagement Corps (GEC) in 2021 to learn more about engaging with communities, finding potential partners, and navigating the complex process of securing funding and support through the university system. 

While in the GEC, Liu connected with Open Heartland, the African Communities Network of Iowa (ACN), and IC Compassion – all working with and advocating for immigrant and refugee populations in Iowa City and across the state. 

In early 2022, Liu was awarded a $3,000 grant through the GEC, which gave her the resources to travel around to community partners to build support, create connections, and investigate the feasibility of connecting with members of immigrant and refugee populations to begin telling their stories. 

"It's a tough journey for them," Liu said. "Leaving their home, coming to a different country – they feel like they are invisible. They want to share their story for everyone to hear, especially for the next generation. When I pitched my idea to the community partners, they felt this was what the families in their community were looking to find. Everything lined up perfectly. They said yes, let's do it together."

Liu's project, a preliminary investigation on how storytelling and a technology-based educational tool can support intercultural communication between communities and higher education institutions, became Language and Culture Contextualization: Digital Intervention in Intercultural Communicative Competence Development with Iowa's Non-profit Community


In January 2022, Liu learned about the Seeding Excellence: Community Engaged Scholars Grant offered by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) at the University of Iowa. With support from the GEC and Office of Community Engagement, she applied for and won a $50,000 grant to continue her work.

The Language and Culture Contextualization project began in late 2022 in partnership with IC Compassion and the ACN. The first phase involved meeting with immigrants and refugees served by those two organizations to listen to their stories. The second phase will transcribe, and archive participant experiences for later use on a digital platform.

Peter Gerlach, visiting assistant professor in International Studies and faculty advisor on the project, explained that immigrants and refugees are often hyper-visible and invisible, which can be a detriment in highly divisive political cultures such as that in the United States.

"It is important for us to all realize that we are all in community with one another, so the more we can amplify these stories, the better," Gerlach said. "Recording and archiving stories, and helping people find community with one another within the conversation circle where it is happening is a crucial element." 

Teresa Stecker, executive director of IC Compassion, worked with struggling immigrant populations and had been approached many times by university groups and researchers looking to engage with her community for various projects. Liu's project was different because the goal was to honor and uplift participants.

"This group can feel very vulnerable and not very honored if a project isn't mutually beneficial," Stecker said. "When we began this project with Yuchen, it was because this would be an honoring process. It would preserve their dignity, and they would feel there was value in sharing their story."

Being seen and accepted as individuals with unique perspectives and personal ambitions can be a struggle for those coming into the country, especially as refugees.

"We are all human beings," Gerlach said. "Hopefully, one of the impacts of Yuchen's work and others like it is that that needs to be said far fewer times. And that the individuals engaged in this research feel like they are more a part of the community because Yuchen is breaking down visibility barriers."

Participants from both organizations gathered over multiple sessions during the initial phase to share meals and experiences as immigrants and refugees coming to the United States as Spanish and Arabic translators helped Liu document their conversations. 

Stecker said that participants were relaxed and open and continued to return to share their stories and be a part of the project, a process that she hopes will continue.

"As an executive director, I am looking at how we can continue some of the principles here and build upon them even within our work by encouraging storytelling," Stecker said. "When you talk about storytelling, it is also peace-promoting. I'm excited and challenged with how this can go beyond these sessions, and we can continue to use that within our organization to promote community and peacebuilding."

Read the Full Story

Have a story about how community-engaged teaching, learning, research, or the arts at the University of Iowa is impacting Iowa communities?

Reach out to james-dykeman@uiowa.edu to share your experience!

Teaching, Learning, and Research

GEC Orientation Starts January 9th

The Graduate Engagement Corps (GEC) program provides graduate and professional students with training in critical areas of community engagement, including community-engaged teaching, community-engaged research, and building community partnerships. 

A three day Orientation will kick off the GEC on January 9th - 11th. The Orientation will be in person, with the third half-day including visits to local community partner sites. After completing the GEC Orientation, graduate students can participate in additional workshops and training to gain a more profound knowledge of specific topics in community engagement through the Spring 2023 semester.

Grant funding will be available for GEC participants to apply for in the late Spring of 2023 to encourage the implementation of the skills they have learned through the Orientation and subsequent workshops. To be eligible, participants must complete the Orientation and attend at least one Office of Community Engagement/GEC workshop during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Learn More

Grant Opportunities

Seeding Excellence: OVPR Community Engaged Scholars FY23 Request for Proposals

The Research Development Office (RDO) within the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) seeks collaborative, 18-month OVPR Community Engaged Scholars proposals with awards up to $50k (smaller projects are encouraged) to assist in creating and solidifying community research and scholarship partnerships within Iowa. The goal is to enable and sustain community engaged research and scholarship partnerships that reciprocally benefit the University and Iowa communities.

OVPR Community Engaged Scholars aims to support community partnerships within Iowa that create new opportunities for pilot projects to gather data that enable long-term research partnerships sustained through external funding proposals.

The Office of Community Engagement will be offering workshops in January and February to support applicants. The January Workshop will explore the basics of Community Engaged Research and an overview of the Community Engaged Scholars Grant. The February Workshop will offer guidance and feedback for pitching your proposal. Exact dates coming soon.

LOI Deadline Due February 03, 2023

Learn More

Getting Published

Learn More

ENGAGE! publishes articles that reflect community-engaged and community-based participatory research (CEnR/CBPR).

Both are inclusive and collaborative inquiry processes. To the extent possible, all partners participate in and share decision-making. Control over all stages of the research process - defining the problem, collecting and interpreting data, disseminating findings, and applying the results to address community issues- is shared.

The Office of Community Engagement is here to help with letters of support and one-on-one meetings with our office to discuss upcoming courses, research projects, and community partnerships.

Submit an Inquiry

The Arts

Arts Share

Arts Share Brings 34 Events to Iowa Communities in 2022

Arts Share continues the University of Iowa's long tradition of sharing creative resources from the Division of Performing Arts, School of Art & Art History, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop with communities across Iowa through collaborative engagement that provides access to life-enriching experiences.

Almost 100 faculty and staff artists and graduate students from the School of Art & Art History, the Division of Performing Arts, and the Writers' Workshop are available through Arts Share. Faculty and staff artists are distinguished professionals, having performed and taught throughout the nation and abroad.

Learn More

Grant Wood Art Colony

Fellows promote diversity and interdisciplinarity in teaching, research, and creative work.

Learn More

Applications Open for 2023 Grant Wood Art Colony Fellowships

The Grant Wood Fellowship program currently provides three one-year fellowships in painting, printmaking, and interdisciplinary performance. Fellows are selected through a national competition and provided with furnished living quarters at the Grant Wood Art Colony. The application process is open in January of each year, with selections made in April.

During the academic year, each fellow will teach a total of two courses at the University of Iowa, leaving the rest of the time for the artist’s own work and research. A teaching salary, benefits, and studio are provided.

Professional Development

High Impact Community-Engaged Learning Practices and Processes

This webinar focuses on practices that facilitate achievement of high impact community-engaged learning (service-learning). Develop a deeper understanding of cultivating reciprocal relationships, using a project management approach, and educating about context.

Offered by Campus Compact

View on YouTube

Community Engagement on Campus

IISC Supports Smaller Community Projects in Iowa

While IISC focuses a lot of resources and energy into one or two communities each year as part of their “city-year” model, they also help find and manage additional stand-alone projects. 

This helps IISC offer opportunities for collaboration to a lot more communities across the state. Here are the locations of non-Clinton IISC projects planned for the Spring semester.

Learn More

2023 CEC Community Partnership Projects:

  1. Iowa City - west side (Pheasant Ride area) neighborhood visioning
  2. Maquoketa - Downtown Greenspace Improvements
  3. Maquoketa - Subdivision site development and stormwater retention pond
  4. Sydney Park - Park, and playground improvements
  5. Marquette - Trail underpass improvements
  6. North Liberty - Ranshaw Way (Hwy 965) / Penn Intersection – Design and traffic flow improvements
  7. North Liberty - Ranshaw Way (Hwy 965) Underpass – State highway trail underpass 
  8. Manning – Gymnasium expansion
  9. ECR Iowa – 9 county region – Closing the transportation gap for individuals with brain and mental health disabilities
  10. Keosauqua - Downtown building design – Structural analysis and adaptive reuse of downtown building 
  11. Gilman - Cemetery converting paper records to a digital IS map

Upcoming Events and Deadlines

Graduate Engagement Corps Orientation

January 9th – 11th, 2023 

9AM - 2PM

UCC Seminar Room, 2520D

Stephen Mulvahill, Piano Performance and Q & A

January 12, 2023

6PM - 7PM

Washington Public Library

Amiya Moretta, Writing Workshops

January 14, 2023

4PM - 6PM

Washington Public Library

Community-Engaged Research: Best Practices and Grant Overview

January 19, 2023

12PM - 1:30PM

UCC Seminar Room - UCC 2520D

Grant Wood Fellow Talk: Johanna Winters

Thursday, January 26, 2023

7PM - 8PM

Stanley Museum of Art

More Events
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