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Release: Nov. 20, 2002

UI professors participate in first Obermann Center Research Semester

Six professors from the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are participating in the inaugural Obermann Center Interdisciplinary Research Semester this fall. The competitively-selected participants are pursuing their own research and meeting with each other to exchange ideas on the research semester theme, "Sex, Economics, Politics: Sexuality as a Social Phenomenon."

Elizabeth Heineman, associate professor of history, submitted the winning proposal for the topic and is serving as the convener. Other participants are Florence Babb, professor of anthropology and women's studies; Maria Jose Somerlate Barbosa, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese; Amy Butler, associate professor of social work; Jane Desmond, associate professor of American studies; and Gary Segura, associate professor of political science.

Heineman said the topic is of considerable contemporary importance. "At a time when AIDS is a global health crisis, and when rape is employed as a weapon in war and genocide, it is crucial that we understand the links between sexuality, politics, and economics," she said. "This seminar gives us an opportunity to study those links -- and to bring our new insights to Iowa students."

Jay Semel, director of the UI's Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, said, "Bringing together this group of people who have similar interests, but might not otherwise have known about each other's work is at the very heart of what the Obermann Center is all about. The success of this new program ultimately will be measured by the number of publications that have been strengthened as a result of the interdisciplinary group interaction."

The program is funded through the C. Esco and Avalon L. Obermann Endowment and the Office of the Vice President for Research and External Relations and the Office of the Provost.

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is a place and a program dedicated to scholarship. Accommodating up to 30 scholars each semester, the Obermann Center provides an environment where scholars working individually or in collaboration can reflect, write, and meet in easy interchange. The Obermann Center encourages scholarly interaction to explore broad frontiers of knowledge and investigate complex ideas and problems.