Featured Funding Programs – Obermann Center for Advanced Studies

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research, provides a uniquely supportive environment where scholars working individually or in collaboration can reflect, write, and interact. The Obermann Center helps nurture and deepen the impact of research and creative projects by offering various programs to support the work of our artists, researchers, and scholars. A few of their programs are highlighted below but please refer to their website for a complete listing.

Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar

Overview: The Mellon Foundation's Sawyer Seminars were established in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments.  The seminars have brought together faculty, foreign visitors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from a variety of fields mainly, but not exclusively, in the arts, humanities, and interpretive social sciences, for intensive study of subjects chosen by the participants.  Foundation support aims to engage productive scholars in comparative inquiry that would (in ordinary university circumstances) be difficult to pursue, while at the same time avoiding the institutionalization of such work in new centers, departments, or programs. Sawyer Seminars are, in effect, temporary research centers. The Obermann Center will be supporting the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences by assisting with nominations for this program. Sawyer Seminar awards provide up to $225,000 for one postdoctoral fellow and for the dissertation research of two graduate students for the period of one year. 

Eligibility: Program is open to tenure-track faculty

Deadline: The letter of intent is due by March 1, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Final proposals are due March 29, 2021 by 5:00 p.m.

Information Sessions:        Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Friday, February 12, 2021, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Learn more: To see additional details about the program and how to apply, please visit the Obermann Center’s  Mellon Sawyer Seminars.

Book Ends

Overview: This program is designed to assist faculty members turn promising manuscripts into important, field-changing, published books. Book Ends will bring two senior scholars to campus for a candid, constructive three-hour workshop on the faculty member’s book manuscript. The award will cover travel, accommodations, and a $500 honorarium for each visiting scholar. We will also ask two UI senior faculty members to participate. Authors will leave the workshop with concrete suggestions for revision, advice about appropriate presses, and a timeline that will lead to a revised manuscript ready for presses to review within six months.

Eligibility: University of Iowa tenure-track assistant and associate professors with mature drafts of monographs on track for publication are eligible.

Application deadline: February 16, 2021 (5:00 p.m.)

Information Session: Tuesday, February 12, 2021, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Learn more: To see additional details about the program and how to apply, please visit The Obermann Center’s Book Ends-Obermann/OVPR Book Completion Workshop.

Obermann Working Groups

Overview: Obermann Center Working Groups provide space, structure, and discretionary funding for groups led by faculty that may include advanced graduate students, staff members, and community members with a shared intellectual interest. Groups have used this opportunity to explore new work and to share their own research, to organize a symposium, and to develop grant proposals. This program allows participants from across the campus and beyond to explore complex issues at a moment when cross-disciplinary collaboration is crucial to address shifting domains of knowledge and a rapidly changing world.

Eligibility: May have one or two co-directors; one must be a UI faculty member.

Deadline: April 13, 2020 (5:00 pm)

Learn More: To see additional details about the program and how to apply, please visit The Obermann Center’s Working Groups Program.

Interdisciplinary Research Grants

Overview: The Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grants (IDRG) foster collaborative scholarship and creative work by offering recipients time and space to exchange new ideas leading to invention, creation, and publication. IDRG groups work together for two or four weeks and will likely be in a virtual format for summer 2021. Applicants propose work on a project with colleagues from across the University, across disciplines within their own department, or with colleagues from other parts of the country or the world. Projects are intended to result in an important scholarly or creative work.

Eligibility: We welcome IDRG applications from artists, researchers, and scholars in any discipline and on any topic. In addition, funds from Laura Spelman-Rockefeller grant are available to support one or two groups that are working specifically on projects focused on children's learning and development, child welfare, and/or maternal education.

Deadline: Fall 2021

Learn More: To see additional details about the program and how to apply, please visit The Obermann Center’s Interdisciplinary Research Grants.

Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship and Whiting Public Engagement Seed Grant

Overview: The University of Iowa is invited to nominate one humanities professor for each of the following two programs: Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship and Whiting Public Engagement Seed Grant. These programs celebrate and empower early-career faculty who embrace public engagement as part of their scholarly vocation by funding ambitious, often collaborative projects to infuse into public life the richness and nuance that give the humanities their lasting value.  Nominees’ public-facing projects and professional expertise should be squarely in the humanities. In this cycle, Whiting is focusing on the following disciplines: history; the study of literature, visual art, music, and other arts; philosophy; and area studies combining these fields, like classics and African-American studies.

Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship of $50,000 is for projects far enough into development or execution to present specific, compelling evidence that they will successfully engage the intended public.

Whiting Public Engagement Seed Grant of up to $10,000 supports projects at a somewhat earlier stage of development, where more modest resources are needed to test or pilot a project or to collaborate with partners to finalize the planning for a larger project and begin work.

Eligibility: To be eligible for either program, nominees must be full- or part-time humanities faculty in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years. Faculty need not be on a tenure track to be eligible. Nominees should have received their doctorate between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2020.

Deadline: The university’s internal deadline is March 29, 2021. If selected, full proposals due to the sponsor on June 14, 2021.

Information Sessions:       

Learn more: To see additional details about the program and how to apply, please visit the Office of the Vice President for Research’s Whiting Public Engagement Programs 2022-23.