IUPUI class prepares next generation of civic leaders

The School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI has launched a new course that will help prepare the next generation of civic leaders in Indianapolis.

Called the Indy Community Development Network, the course is the first of its kind at IUPUI, giving students an introduction to many of the tools utilized in community development, said Marshawn Wolley, director of the school’s community engagement and strategic initiatives.

Marshawn Wolley

Marshawn Wolley

Students are learning  about:

  • “People” and “place” community-development strategies and social policy issues including socioeconomic disparities, gentrification, and the role of social justice in thinking about communities
  • How nonprofit and business leaders develop residential or commercial properties for areas of a city or neighborhood to improve affordability and make areas more attractive for further investment
  • How local social entrepreneurs are collaborating with communities to wrestle with their most pressing challenges by designing programs or community initiatives to enhance the quality of life for residents

“The course is for students interested in social justice who are trying to figure out how to make that their career,” Wolley said. The course, which meets weekly in February, is open to SPEA students who have completed at least 60 hours of coursework.

SPEA students who participate in the class will be eligible to compete for one of three $5,000 PNC Community Development fellowships that will support a paid internship at an organization where they can have maximum impact on community-development initiatives in the city, according to Wolley.

The course was developed in response to community-development organizations and others who are interested in developing a talent pipeline of individuals who understand the unique aspects of community development in Indianapolis and recognize the complexities of Indianapolis’s neighborhoods through diversity and socioeconomic perspectives, Wolley said.

Students will meet with a range of city and community-development officials, including Emily Mack, director of the Department of Metropolitan Development; James Taylor, CEO of the John H. Boner Center; and Gary Hobbs, a prominent social entrepreneur and developer in Indianapolis.

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