Areas of Focus

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.

Resilient Hoosier Communities

Water quality, recreational land use, and local food systems are high on the list for the region—though these issues only scratch the surface of challenges and opportunities for rural Indiana.

Examples of sustainability and environmental initiatives

  • Interdisciplinary team of researchers working to mitigate and prepare for the real-world impacts of environmental change through IU's Grand Challenges program
  • Research partners in the IU School of Public Health, departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, and community partners working to create healthy, local, and sustainable food systems

  • A research proposal by IU Bloomington scientists from multiple schools and disciplines to create tools for water resource planning, decisionmaking, and adaptive water governance that consider political economy and cultural constraints of underdeveloped regions

  • The Eppley Institute, a unique program in the School of Public Health’s Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Department, is working to preserve public lands through engagement and outreach, research, strategic planning, training, and education

  • Each year, Sustaining Hoosier Communities works with a different local community to identify and address the community’s priorities. In its pilot year, Sustaining Hoosier Communities worked with Lawrence County community leaders to identify and select suitable projects for IU Bloomington faculty and their classes to tackle.

Healthy Hoosier Communities

Together with community leaders, we have prioritized population health issues to promote the well-being of people in our region, including substance abuse, obesity and diabetes, infant mortality, tobacco use, and chronic disease.

Examples of health and wellness initiatives

  • Statewide effort to respond to the opioid addictions crisis through the IU Grand Challenges program
  • A partnership between the School of Public Health, IU Health, and community partners to do community health needs assessments in the 11-county region
  • New and evolving programs within the IU Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work that focus on population health, mental health, and addiction and help train health care professionals to meet the needs of the region
  • Leadership development opportunities through the IU School of Medicine and the IU Kelley School of Business for medical professionals who join serve at regional hospitals and medical centers

Hoosier Quality of Place

IU Bloomington has a superb and thriving arts and humanities environment, with world-class music, theater, dance, and humanities offerings.

Examples of culture and built environment initiatives

  • An arts and humanities council that reaches out to surrounding communities and imagine ways IU Bloomington’s cultural programming can be made more widely available to the Southwest Central Indiana region
  • A new Master of Architecture degree, to be taught largely in the architecturally significant city of Columbus, Indiana, that provides opportunities for students and faculty to solve the design and architecture challenges in the region
  • Collaboration with regional tourism and arts groups to get the word out to our students, faculty, and staff about the unique cultural and built wonders that await them within a two-hour drive from campus

Hoosier Educational Attainment

Working with school, community, regional, and state partners, the center will help to address the challenges and opportunities of the region’s K–12 schools, from curriculum design to professional development.

Examples of educational attainment initiatives

  • Focusing significant efforts on working with school districts and leaders in the region to further strengthen education outcomes for students

  • Integrating the cultural resources of IU Bloomington into school curricula that culminate in visits to the Bloomington campus, such as a pre-college program in violin that operates with a low-income school, or a class in world civilization that is taught through objects at the art museum

  • Developing relationships with all the region’s schools to ensure they are fully informed of the vast number of pre-college and summer programs IU Bloomington mounts each year in areas including science, technology, engineering, math, languages, and the arts

Thriving Hoosier Communities

To engage students and recent graduates in innovation and business creation, we are planning two new programs and facilities at IU Bloomington.

Design facility

Undergraduate students in the School of Informatics and Computing and the School of Art and Design will design devices, software, and apps that lead to the development of marketable products and new businesses that solve design and engineering problems in the region.

Innovation facility

A program and incubator facility is in the works to launch early-stage, student-developed businesses that will tap the entrepreneurial talent of our students in support of regional economic development, with the goal of adding new businesses to the region.

Capacity Building and Leadership Development

In partnership with our regional partners and the strong professional schools at IU Bloomington, we’re working to develop a sense of regionalism in the region through capacity, infrastructure, and leadership development programs.

Examples of capacity, infrastructure, and leadership development programs

  • Leadership development programs for community leaders in nonprofit, business, public health, state parks and recreation, education, governmental, and legal sectors

  • Recommendations from the Ostrom Workshop on Political Theory on building civil society infrastructure and capacity in the region

  • A new program in the Media School that provides enterprise and investigative reporting for the Southwest Central Indiana region while training the next generations of investigative journalists

Improve the well-being of rural Indiana—and the life chances of the people who live there.