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, and grows.