Citizen Scholars

The IWU Citizen Scholars program launches students on a pathway to meaningful engagement on campus and in the community. The strong partnership between IWU and Bloomington-Normal means your classroom includes the entire community. Program mentors include faculty, staff, alumni, and current students who are active change agents across sectors and social justice issues. Building on the Improvising Citizenship Gateway course (Fall of 2018), students partner with the Action Research Center to implement a group project (Spring 2019). Students take a weekend trip to Indianapolis to further explore ideas of citizenship and community engagement.

The First-Year Citizen Scholars program is a full-year experience. All Citizens Scholars will enroll in the Improvising Citizenship Gateway course in Fall 2018 and continue as a cohort in Spring 2018 as they forge a pathway to meaningful campus and community engagement through these opportunities:

  • Citizenship Connections luncheon during Homecoming (Fall 2018) to network with young alumni who were active citizens while at IWU and have continued their engagement beyond graduation
  • Guided tours of campus and community destinations that are connected to “citizenship” including the IWU Peace Garden, the Social Justice Room at Ames Library, the McLean County Museum of History, and the Constitution Trail
  • Receptions with speakers at the Martin Luther King Day Teach-In (January 2019) and TEDxIWU (February 2019)
  • Project management workshops with the IWU Action Research Center (Spring 2019) to implement a community engagement project designed by the Citizen Scholars (budget provided to help your project be a success)
  • Meetings with diverse community leaders to discuss current events related to citizenship
  • Service projects with the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP) including many initiatives launched by IWU students (Tool Library, Veggie Oasis, Youth Art Contest, Native Plant Garden, Sports Equipment Recycling, and Little Free Libraries)
  • Visit Indianapolis, Indiana for a weekend (February 2019) to explore best practices and revitalization strategies with other communities
  • Celebration of Peace Corps Day (March 2019) with the Peace Corps Prep programs at IWU and ISU with local Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
  • A .5 credit for participating in Citizen Scholar opportunities and writing a reflection paper


The First-Year Citizen Scholars explore the relationship between citizenship and community through scholarship and action. Students begin their own pathway to meaningful campus and community engagement through diverse experiences guided by dedicated mentors. As a Citizen Scholar, students work as a group and on their own, they explore the depth and the breadth of communities, and they integrate ideas from across domains.

The required Gateway course, Improvising Citizenship, is taught by Dr. James Simeone of the Political Science Department. He teaches courses in political theory, constitutional law, contemporary political thought, and environmental ethics. Dr. Simeone founded the IWU Action Research Center in 2004 and the IWU Peace Garden in 2012. He conducts research on civic engagement in higher education and recently wrote a chapter called Unscripted Learning: Cultivating Engaged Catalysts in Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines published by the American Political Science Association.

The spring semester challenges students to put their lessons about citizenship into action. The cohort meets with the Action Research Center to learn project management skills and design a community-focused project. There are a multitude of campus and community events related to citizenship and students that happen year round. The Citizen Scholars will attend these as a group with their mentors to enjoy special meetings with leaders and featured speakers. Similar to how all First-Year students explore their curricular path with their academic advisors, each Citizen Scholar meets with a mentor to create a co-curricular path that might include volunteering, study abroad, courses with engagement components, and fellowships. Near the end of the spring semester, students will travel to Indianapolis to meet with IWU alumni and explore citizenship and community projects. Students may earn a .5 credit for participating in spring opportunities and submitting a reflection paper to Dr. Simeone. 

Citizen Scholars are dedicated to improving their understanding and practice of citizenship. This First-Year Experience establishes a foundation for any student wishing to live out the famous words of former IWU President Minor Myers Jr: "Go out into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."

Admission to the program is based on materials you have already submitted to IWU, together with your brief response to the question in the attached application link.

Click here to apply.