Engaging neighboring communities through research, teaching, service, and partnerships

The Center for Rural Engagement reimagines the relationship between the flagship campus of the state’s largest university and nearby rural communities in Indiana.

The center calls on the research, expertise, teaching, and service of IU Bloomington faculty, staff, and students to find solutions to the challenges these communities face and to enhance opportunities identified by the communities themselves. This approach is already in practice via IU's Grand Challenges program. Collaborative teams across the university are harnessing the power of research to address:

The center will also support and complement efforts of other regional organizations to develop approaches that are scalable, evidence-based, and exportable. In the process, IU students will benefit from high-impact learning and volunteer activities through IU Corps, while developing relationships with potential future employers in the region.



To improve the lives of the people living in Indiana


To discover and deploy solutions to the problems facing rural communities


To build durable and robust partnerships with regional communities, and to support and complement efforts of other regional organizations


To work with our partners to develop a sense of a shared future in the region


To educate and mobilize an IU student volunteer force to serve the needs and support the goals of rural communities


To demonstrate how a research university’s broad resources can improve the well-being of Indiana and the life chances of those who live here

Helping Indiana thrive

The center serves rural Indiana and its small regional cities, and it has launched current initiatives in the southwest central Indiana Uplands region.

Focusing students’ volunteer energy to change lives–including their own

In fall 2015, a working group evaluated how to organize the immersive service engagement experiences on the IU Bloomington campus to make a meaningful and transformative difference in the lives of our students and the communities they serve.

After speaking with community leaders in the 11-county region, we recognized the potential for focusing a substantial amount of student volunteer effort in the goals and priorities of the center. In addition to serving these communities, students are able to add exponentially to their college experience.

45,000+undergraduate and graduate students at IU Bloomington

1,000’shours of student-based community service each semester

300+service-learning classes, programs, and student service groups

Featured initiative

Leadership development for health professionals

Recruiting and retaining high-caliber medical professionals of all kinds to hospitals that serve rural populations depends, among other things, on ensuring ongoing local opportunities for professional development.

IU’s Kelley School of Business and the IU School of Medicine will ensure that these leadership development opportunities are available to medical professionals in the Southwest Central Indiana region.

See more initiatives

Help us create a shared future for Indiana.