Government and not for profit organizations in Northwest Indiana are being impacted by many of the same forces affecting businesses. The result is the increasing expectation that they should do more with less. Additionally, there is a growing expectation among employers that students have practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge and analytical skills. Applied experience has become an increasingly central component of the portfolio of skills students need to ensure employability in their chosen profession.
In response to these two interrelated needs, the Department of Political Science (DPS) at Valparaiso University has established the Community Research and Service Center (CRSC). The primary goals of the CRSC are the following. First, to provide research assistance and other services to government, not for profit organizations, and in some instances, businesses in Northwest Indiana. Secondly, the CRSC will provide students with applied research experience. Students will become an integral part of the CRSC and will not only learn basic research methods, but will gain practical experience in working for and dealing with government, business, and other organizations in Northwest Indiana.
Already the CRSC has been involved in many projects in Northwest Indiana. It has done work for The Hoosier Environmental Council, The Portage Parks and Recreation Department, Hilltop Neighborhood House, The Community Development Corporation, The City of Valparaiso, The Porter County Juvenile Detention Center, The Family and Youth Services Bureau of Porter County, and numerous other organizations and individuals. In the first year of operation over 45 students were involved in a variety of projects. Some worked on projects as part of their classes, others did independent studies, and others were employed by the CRSC.