No ivory towers. While Iowa City may be a temporary stop for University of Iowa graduate students like Anne Haydock, it’s also an ideal place to connect scholarship and creative work with community concerns.
“We are transient elements of this community, but that doesn’t mean we have to live in our heads the whole time we’re here,” says Haydock, an MFA student in film and video production who offers crash courses in filmmaking to students at Iowa City’s Elizabeth Tate High School.
Last January, Haydock joined 14 other grad students from throughout the University for the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy, a program sponsored by the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the Graduate College.
The program explored ways to develop research and teaching projects that respond to community issues and needs. Haydock used the experience to enhance a 2006 pilot project she developed with Tate social studies teacher Carrie Watson.
“The University students’ enthusiasm ignited our students’ interest and motivation to create their own products,” Watson said. “This project lets us offer a new program that we couldn’t previously.”
Last year, Haydock and colleagues from the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences conducted documentary film and video workshops at Tate. This year, based on feedback from students and teachers, they shifted their focus to animation techniques.
“We have a skill set we can pass on,” Haydock says, “It’s great to be able to tell a partner, ‘I have this concrete thing I can give you.’”
The Obermann program emphasized that successful engagement projects are true partnerships. Through the production workshops and a new mentoring program, Haydock and fellow students share their expertise. In return, they get a new perspective on their work and a sense of belonging.
“We’re bringing in students who are new to our department and getting them involved,” she says. “It makes the department feel more like a community, but it also makes us feel more like this place is our home.”