PhD Student Served as Obermann Center Public Scholar

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

For eight weeks this summer, SJMC doctoral student Michael Davis served as an Obermann Center Public Scholar with the university’s performing arts venue, Hancher, through the Humanities for the Public Good initiative, which was funded through an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant.

Michael Davis

As member of Hancher’s Public Engagement team, Davis was tasked with helping support and create audience development initiatives, especially for University of Iowa students. For example, Davis worked with the public engagement team to develop partnerships and collaborations with First-Year Seminar and College Transition courses, both of which help new students acclimate to UI academic and social life.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with Hancher leadership and staff to help foster relationships between academic departments on campus and Hancher’s vibrant arts community,” Davis said. “I strongly believe in and support Hancher’s mission to create meaningful conversations surrounding artistic experiences for the university community.

In addition, he helped plan “Hancher is for Hawkeyes,” a Aug. 29th Hancher open house. The event’s goal is to make students feel connected and welcome at their performing arts venue, encouraging them to make Hancher a significant part of their time while attending the University of Iowa.


“Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It happens in every corner of this university, and Hancher is trying its best to create programming and outreach that will enhance the liberal arts education students receive here,” he said.

As a scholar, Davis studies nonprofit policy and action through examining media discourse. This internship was a welcome experience for him as preparation for his future dissertation work. He intends to conduct field research at a national nonprofit, examining how its messages and actions get reported on by the media.  

For more information on Davis’ work over the summer, visit the Humanities for the Public Good blog, at