John Westefeld discusses Navigating Perpetual Mental Health Issues in a Pandemic  (Fri, 7 Jan, 1p)  Zoom video

A presentation on Critical Race Theory with Victor Ray and Venise Berry  (Wed, 19 Jan, 1p)  Zoom video

Juan Pablo Hourcade suggests How Technologies Are Changing the Way We Think  (Th, 3 Feb, 10:30a)  Zoom video

Peter Damiano brings us up to date on IowaRISE and the UI Public Policy Center  (Thurs, 17 Feb, 1p ) Zoom video

Allison Bruhn and Dan Clay talk about The Iowa Center for School Mental Health  (Th, 3 Mar, 1p)  Zoom video

Judy Polumbaum presents Politics and Protest in Pictures  (Th, 17 Mar, 2-3:30 p)  Zoom video

Alta Medea-Peters sheds light on Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence (Th, 14 Apr, 11a)  Zoom video

Meghann Foster, mayor of Coralville, discusses her First 100 Days (Wed, 11 May, 3p) Zoom video

Outings: hiking and kayaking (Mon, 16 May, 10:30a; Tues, 2 June, TBA)

Two Horse Farm Guided Hike  (Fri, 23 Sept, 10:30a-12p)

Update on the New Stanley Museum of Art (Oct 21, 1:30p via Zoom) and Docent-Led Collection Highlights Tour (Oct 25, 10:30a)

How do we keep going when the pandemic keeps hanging around and creating strain in our lives?  This presentation will focus on some of the psychological challenges from the pandemic and how to manage them.  Professor Westefeld, professor emeritus of counseling psychology, is a board-certified psychologist whose primary professional interests during his 42-year professional career — including 25 years at the University of Iowa — have ben suicide/suicide prevention and educating the public about mental health issues.  He retired in 2016 as an emeritus professor and then worked until 2020 in private practice.  He recently received the 2021 Distinguished Faculty Award from the UI.

Critical race theory has been a trending topic at local school board meetings and in the media over the past year.  This program will provide an overview and perspective on critical race theory, an important issue facing us in today's political environment.  Victor Ray is F. Wendell Miller Professor in Sociology, Criminology, and African American Studies; and Venise Berry is Professor of Journalism and African American Studies/DEO of African American Studies

Juan Pablo Hourcade is associate professor of computer science and director of graduate studies for the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics.  He argues that the use of interactive technologies is changing the way our cognitive processes work from perception to memory, attention, learning, problem solving, communication, and metacognition.  But for the most part, technology designers develop what the market calls for  without a holistic view of how all these technologies may affect how we think and how we interact with each other.  The good news is that we have choices, and we can have visions.  What do we want the cognitive future to be like?  Professor Hourcade discusses some of the ways that interactive technologies can optimally impact our cognitive processes.

The IowaRISE Initiative supports student career and life discernment through participation in Research, Internship, Service learning, and civic Engagement activities.  IowaRISE was one of five proposals selected to receive funds made available by the UI’s establishment of a Public/Private Partnership (P3) to manage the University’s utilities over the next 50 years.  Peter Damiano is Director and Distinguished Research Fellow, UI Public Policy Center,/Bernstein Professor of Preventive and Community Dentistry, UI College of Dentistry

Allison Bruhn is associate professor in special education and executive director of the Iowa Center for School Mental Health.  Dan Clay is dean of the College of Education.  They explore The Iowa Center for School Mental Health, a partnership between the University of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Education (DOE).  It is focused on improving the social, emotional, behavioral, and psychological well-being of K-12 students and educators across the state.  Located in the UI College of Education, the center will deliver training, conduct research, and provide clinical services to support mental health in schools.  The DOE has designated $20 million in federal relief monies to support the center’s work.  Other collaborators include the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, School of Social Work in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Nursing, and College of Public Health. 

Judy Polumbaum is professor emerita of journalism and mass communication.  She shares with us nearly 100 historic pictures from the archives of her social activist-photojournalist father Ted Polumbaum.  Ted worked for LIFE and other publications during the heyday of the great picture magazines.  Drawing on images from the pre-digital age that track the evolution of political imagery and protest photography in this country and abroad, Judy will highlight photos from the days of the Kennedys, 1964 Freedom Summer, the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, and the anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as documentation of life and politics in India, Latin America, and China.  Her father’s life and work are the subject of Judy’s newest book, All Available Light: The Life and Legacy of Photographer Ted Polumbaum.  As a newspaper reporter and magazine writer, Judy covered stories from Vermont to Oregon and from Des Moines to Beijing.  She was the first Western researcher to do fieldwork on media in China during the post-Mao years.  She taught at Iowa from 1989 to 2015.

Alta Medea, director of community engagement for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP), an Iowa City-based nonprofit, will share the effects of human trafficking within Johnson County and Southeastern Iowa with us on Thursday, April 14 at 11 a.m., via Zoom.  She will explore the warning signs, victim-survivors stories, and how we, as a community, can support individuals.  She will be joined by Lia Parillo, shelter services coordinator, who provides direct services to victim-survivors of intimate partner violence, stalking, human trafficking, and domestic violence.  For over 42 years, DVIP has provided critical services and resources to individuals.  In the past year, it has assisted more than 1,900 victim-survivors and provided over 17,000 nights of safety.  Attendees will learn action steps they can immediately take to help prevent human trafficking and support those most vulnerable in our community.  Alta Medea began her work with DVIP as first a volunteer, then a board member, and has served as director of community engagement since 2017.  Over the past four years, she has written multiple pieces on behalf of DVIP and developed a curriculum on marketing domestic violence services, “How to Market a Secret.”  She lives in Iowa City with her two hilarious sons, an overly active dog, and three moody cats.

When Meghann Foster took office as mayor on January 1, 2022, she became the first female mayor in Coralville’s 148-year history.  Meghann has been a Coralville resident since 2001.  She is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) and teaches strategic communication and social media marketing at the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  She holds a master’s in Strategic Communication from Washington State University and a bachelor’s from the University of Iowa.  In addition to serving as Coralville mayor, she is a member of the Coralville Community Food Pantry Board of Directors, advisor to the Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition, and serves on the Johnson County Juvenile Justice and Youth Development Policy Board. Her family includes her husband and five children.

UIRA has arranged the following two outings specifically for members.  See Johnson County Conservation for more of their outdoor activities.
Cangleska Wakan Ephemeral Forest Hike   Monday, May 16, 10:30 a.m., 4045 245th St. NE, Solon, IA 52333 (off Sugar Bottom Road).
Join your UIRA friends and a Johnson County conservationist for a spring hike in Cangleska Wakan, the Johnson County Conservation’s newest park.  The area shares a boundary with the 80-acre wooded Big Grove Preserve owned and is managed by the Bur Oak Land Trust.  More details coming.
Kayaking at Kent Park Lake   Tuesday, June 2, 2048 Hwy. 6 NW, Oxford, IA 52322
For adventurous UIRA members, Johnson County Conservation will offer an introductory kayak outing for kayakers from inexperienced beginner to experienced.  More details coming.

Join your UIRA friends and Frances Owen, a Johnson County Conservation (JCC) education specialist, on Friday, September 23, from10:00 a.m. until noon, at 2257 Sugar Bottom Road NE, Solon, Iowa, for a guided hike at the JCC's newest park, Two Horse Farm.  There are picnic locations in the park, so bring a sack lunch to enjoy following the hike.  Directions: Turn off Mehaffy Bridge Road onto Sugar Bottom Road and continue to 2257 Sugar Bottom Road.  You can also turn off Route 1 onto Newport Road and then on to Sugar Bottom Road.  A sign will be posted at the driveway on Sugar Bottom Road to indicate the location.  Follow the driveway to the farm. (see map:

For the Zoom session, expect to receive the link on October 19.  (If you lose the link, contact Evalyn Van Allen-Shalash.)  For the in-person tour, RSVP by October 10 to
Evalyn Van Allen-Shalash.  Lauren Lessing became the director of the UI Stanley Museum of Art in July 2018.  Her experience includes many years working in art museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, where she built the education department and created a host of innovative educational programs.  Her parents, both artists, were students of the UI museum’s first director, Ulfert Wilke, and she has loved the UI and Iowa City since her first visit here in 2002.  Lessing has shaped an ambitious vision that includes a mission to transform lives by connecting the UI community, Iowans, and the world with extraordinary works of art.  A native Midwesterner, Lessing earned a B.A. in fine art at Earlham College and completed her Ph.D. in art history at Indiana University under the guidance of Sarah Burns.  She has curated exhibitions and authored many books, articles, and catalogue essays on various topics in American art.



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