Education Research Spreads University’s Impact to South Bend & Beyond

Old notions about the work of Universities–and of the undergraduates and faculty on those campuses–tend to see local-community service and academic research as two very separate things. The Institute for Educational Initiatives is among the groups on campus where the dividing line has faded. Indeed Dr. James Frabutt, an Institute faculty fellow who is known for both his research and his commitment to service to young people, is happy to be pointing out this positive trend from his new vantage point. He is Notre Dame’s first director of academic-community engagement.

A recent story whose details have appeared on a few University websites, including the ND Newswire at, has an extra dimension that includes the Institute for Educational Initiatives and an extra reason to be excited about the potential of cooperative service projects involving Notre Dame faculty and students, alongside residents of local communities in the South Bend area.

That extra reason goes to the heart of Notre Dame’s accelerating push into interdisciplinary research that can help address human needs at the local, national, and international levels. In this case, the research is inseparable from cooperation with the three-year-old neighborhood development project called Engaging Youth, Engaging Neighborhood.

You’ll enjoy reading the story (linked above) that introduces the three scholars–all of them with an abiding interest in the intersection of community service, K-12 education, and the generation of new knowledge–who became involved in the EYEN endeavor, with help from the Center for Social Concerns’ Naomi Penney and others.

But Jim Frabutt–and many others who see N0tre Dame’s mission as multifaceted and attuned to both local and global reach–would appreciate your reading the follow-up story now posted at the Institute’s news site. It reminds us that research, typically taking the form of undergraduates’ independent inquiries in the community, as well as faculty members’ peer-reviewed journal articles, book ideas, and teaching in interdisciplinary programs like the IEI’s Education, Schooling, and Society academic minor, has a multiplier effect on- and off-campus. In this case, educators will be able to take the successful grass-roots ideas from South Bend and carry them to other academics, communities, and children.

There’s nothing stodgy about research or researchers when today’s classroom is the world and today’s world is a classroom, when faculty and students alike are engaged in teaching and learning and excited about sharing and spreading new pathways for solving problems in every community. Thanks and congratulations to everyone who helped to introduce this initiative in Notre Dame’s own neighborhood.

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