Designing a service learning project to build institutional capacity and social capital: Unique challenges for an urban professional school

Lori Anderson, Jennifer Clark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Indiana University Northwest (IU Northwest) is a comprehensive regional university serving northwest Indiana. Located in Gary IN, IU Northwest is an urban university that serves students from an economically depressed area. The Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program serves primarily midcareer professionals. Located in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), both the School and the Program value service learning projects and the MPA faculty are committed to the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) competency of public service perspective. In this context, there seems to be little sense of community among the MPA students. The rhetoric is that midcareer students in an economically depressed area are too busy and face too many social and economic barriers to value a sense of community at the School. In other words, they just want to come in to campus, take classes, and return to their families, or so the story goes. This project focuses on a graduate class project to challenge that rhetoric. The project combines academic topics relevant to public affairs, primarily institution building and social capital, with service learning by students participating in the projects. This project provides an innovative approach to service learning, in which both the student providers of the service and the recipient organization is the university, specifically the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program. Students become action learners by serving in the dual role of researcher and organizational member that is undergoing intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndiana Academy of Social Science (IASS) Conference 2012 Papers
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2012
EventIndiana Academy of Social Science (IASS) Conference - Gary Indiana, United States
Duration: 2 Oct 20125 Oct 2012


ConferenceIndiana Academy of Social Science (IASS) Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityGary Indiana


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