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UNI to host 'Reaching for Higher Ground: The Search for an American Dream'

October 2, 2012

Steve Carignan, associate dean, outreach & special projects, College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, 319-273-3665,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa invites Iowa's communities to participate in  "Reaching for Higher Ground: The Search for an American Dream." The series aims to examine the meaning of the American Dream and what it takes to pursue it.

A series of signature events are planned for the fall to promote conversation around this topic through lenses of social justice, education and economics. 

Events include:

Tuesday, Oct. 16, 4 p.m., panel discussion, "Entrepreneurship, Opportunity, and an American Dream," in the University Room, Maucker Union. Shahina Amin, associate professor of economics at UNI; Therese Kuster, director of digital reputation at Mudd Advertizing; Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at UNI; John Papajohn, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Des Moines, Iowa; and Lou Porter, president and CEO of KBBG, will participate in this panel, moderated by Katherine Cota-Uyar, associate director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at UNI.

Thursday, Oct. 18, 6 p.m., "Willing and Able" screening and panel with exhibits, at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. The exhibit will feature art by individuals with disabilities. Screening of the documentary, "Willing and Able," begins at 7 p.m., with the panel discussion to follow.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m., "Critical Conversations: Voices of the Cedar Valley," at Schindler Education Center, Room 244. This event is a showcase of sixth grade students' PhotoVoice projects on their conceptions of the American Dream. A panel of speakers will follow the showcase.

In addition to these events, a number of films will be screened. The films will be used as a basis for discussion, addressing the nature and meaning of an 'American Dream' in relation to issues of marginalization and privilege. "Children in No Man's Land" will be shown on Tuesday, Oct. 9; "Capitalism Hits the Fan" on Monday, Oct. 29; and "Shellmound" on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Films will begin at 7 p.m., at the Center for Multicultural Education.

Several of these events were funded through Reaching for Higher Ground's mini-grants. These grants are awarded to projects that focus on the "Search for an American Dream," as well as projects that promote Reaching for Higher Ground's goals of engaging and strengthening the campus community. A total of $6,000 was awarded for programming.

For more information about Reaching For Higher Ground, visit or contact Steve Carignan, associate dean, outreach & special projects, College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, at 319-273-3665 or