ARC was founded in 2003 by Dr. James Sikora (Sociology) and Dr. James Simeone (Political
Science). These visionary professors saw an opportunity to engage IWU students who
were eager for challenging internships and a deeper connection to community work.
A curriculum development grant led to the first Action Research Seminar in 2003 co-taught
by Simeone and Sikora. The team of “Jim & Jim” got a new staff person in 2007 when
Deborah Halperin was hired after ARC received a grant from State Farm Insurance to
increase the scope of ARC’s efforts.
The first ARC internship was offered in 2005. Since that time, ARC has created internships
for students across various academic disciplines.
As a champion for community engagement and social justice, ARC continues to expand
its offerings to expose the campus and community to new and innovative ideas. ARC
has brought action research experts to campus over the years including Diane Austin,
Phil Nyden, and Jody Kretzmann. ARC sponsored the first Martin Luther King Jr Teach-In
in 2004. At the event, the campus and community hear from speakers about local, national,
and global perspectives on social justice issues.
ARC has served as an incubator for numerous projects that require development and
support before going to scale. These projects include Radio Latina (2009), LINK at
the Farmers’ Market (2010), the IWU Peace Garden (2012), the Tool Library (2013),
and the Veggie Oasis project (2014). ARC supports people with big ideas with the tools
and resources needed to succeed.
ARC has evolved over its first ten years to be a local leader in community engagement.
As alumni continue to use their ARC skills to pursue professional, academic, and personal
goals, the impact of the program achieves depth and breadth. The future of ARC is
built on a solid foundation and it continues to be a place that innovates, challenges,