Leadership Development

Capacity Building and Leadership Development

In partnership with community organizations and the strong academic schools at IU Bloomington, we’re working to develop a sense of regionalism through capacity, infrastructure, and leadership development programs.

Together we are building networks of leaders who can collaborate across county borders and collectively increase understanding of regional issues.

Harnessing a high-impact, community-engaged teaching model, we connect IU students with local leaders and organizations. This deepens our students' experiences and understanding of professional opportunities in rural communities. As a result, students envision rewarding careers in our state while contributing additional capacity to local efforts.

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Still images of students, faculty, and community members sitting at a table eating lunch, while talking at the Paoli Tomato Products Company.

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IU Political and Civic Engagement students visited the old Paoli Tomato Products Company now home to Black Vulture project's community arts and entertainment space.

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Still image of present-day Paoli Tomato Products Company. [Fade] Still images of students touring French Lick West Baden Museum.

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Students also learned about Orange County's heritage at the French Lick West Baden Museum as part of the Sustaining Hoosier Communities rural history project.


IU Center for Rural Engagement


Community Leadership: Revisiting Orange County’s History

Celebrating a diverse cultural history, the Political and Civic Engagement Program engaged Orange County residents to develop a timeline of the county, attending to trends in population and economics, examining local artifacts, and encouraging participation in mapping the region's history.

Training and advising on community development methodologies

Communities bear a variety of assets that are well-positioned to address current issues and generate future resilience and success. We approach our collaborations with an appreciative mindset and employ two key approaches, Asset-Based Community Development and Strategic Doing, which place community voices and strengths at the forefront.

Asset-Based Community Development

In the planning process, we ask leaders and residents to first consider their community’s strengths, assets, and aspirations. By focusing on what works well, the center and its partners can identify the social, natural, cultural, human, political, financial, and built capitals (as identified by Flora and Flora) that are functioning at a high level or which are under-utilized and could be harnessed to address community challenges that require attention. This is an energizing activity for the community and an informative step in our collaborative and customized strategy for partnerships.

Strategic Doing

Strategic Doing—a process developed by the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab that builds strategy from linking and leveraging community-held assets and networks with a focus on direct and achievable actions—helps move community committees from the discussion phase to strategy to implementation. Following the 10 Rules of Strategic Doing, we facilitate positive motion towards specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals set and enacted by community members. The process itself is one that builds community capacity, and we are teaching communities how to use the process to maintain momentum beyond our initial engagement.

Create thriving rural communities with us