Graduate course takes students to Native American communities to learn, practice community-engaged scholarship

Students enrolled in the course are visiting Native communities in Indiana and Oklahoma as part of their coursework.
Thursday, November 10, 2022

By Charlotte Brookins 

Graduate students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have the unique opportunity to visit Native American communities as part of the only community-engaged scholarship course taught at the graduate level this semester.  

Stephen Warren
Professor Stephen Warren

The course, HIST:6140 Engaged Scholarship in the Humanities, taught by Stephen Warren, a professor in American Studies and History, explores literature in the humanities, including the pioneering work of engaged scholars in Native American, Latino, and African American studies. Students are exposed to the many ways an individual can interact and engage with their community and they gain hands-on experience through visits to Native American communities in this course.  

“Community-engaged scholarship is collaborative, team-based research conducted on behalf of communities outside of academia,” Warren says. “Research questions and outcomes are determined in partnership and respect, and the collective goal of these endeavors is to build capacity in Indigenous communities.” 

So far, the class has visited Kiihkayonki, now known as Fort Wayne, Indiana, and White Oak, Oklahoma. Kiihkayonki is former capitol of the Miami Nation of Oklahoma, before native people were forced to leave. Participating students experienced a community event in Indiana and a Shawnee Bread Dance in Oklahoma. 

“The field trips demonstrate that Native people are still here,” Warren explains. “And that their cultures are vibrant. I was pleased to give students the ability to observe these realities and get to know tribal leaders.” 

Community engaged scholarship visit in Oklahoma

The course and its field work around community-engagement expose graduate students to experiences and interests that may translate into careers that work within different communities, especially those with Native populations.  

“Community-engaged scholarship gives graduate students the opportunity to consider careers beyond the professorate,” Warren adds. “They might work with area non-profits, government agencies, regional or national museums, or, in my case, federally-recognized Native nations.” 

This is an opportunity that isn’t always readily available but is a priority at the University of Iowa to ensure students not only learn about Native communities but also experience them. This exposure provides value to students and the people in the communities they are entering.  

“It is a privilege to harness the power of the University of Iowa to create scholarship that is meaningful to people who have typically been excluded from higher education in the United States,” he explains. 


The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.