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Marjorie Hershey
Leadership, Ethics and Social Action program

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IU Leadership, Ethics and Social Action students to present capstone projects

Dec. 8, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An exhibit of art produced by prisoners. A program to help crime victims come to terms with their feelings of victimization. A mentoring program that pairs recovering addicts with others who are struggling to get their lives on track.

Those are among 10 capstone projects created this year by students in Indiana University's Leadership, Ethics and Social Action program, an academic minor in the College of Arts and Sciences that combines community service with academic studies and experience in leadership and civic engagement.

LESA Capstone

Boys and Girls Club members take part in an environmental studies class, one of this year's LESA capstone projects.

The students will showcase the results of their projects Friday (Dec. 10) from 5-6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton St. Members of the Bloomington and IU communities are invited to attend and to talk with the students about their projects.

"Our capstone students have each spent a year bridging the worlds of the campus and community, developing projects to meet pressing human needs," said Marjorie Hershey, director of the LESA program and professor of political science in the IU College of Arts and Sciences. "The students learn a lot about their capacity for leadership, and the community benefits from the students' energy and creativity. It's a gift for everybody involved."

Established in 2002, LESA incorporates at least 15 hours of classes, culminating in a capstone seminar in which each student designs and implements a tangible project in cooperation with a local community organization. The seminar meets in the spring and fall semesters, with students designing their projects in the spring in consultation with faculty members and community organizations and completing the projects in the fall.

This is the final group of capstone projects, as LESA is being merged with Political and Civic Engagement (PACE), a 25-credit undergraduate certificate program that combines academic study with hands-on learning to give students an education in democratic citizenship.

The 2010 capstone projects include:

  • A collection of art produced by people incarcerated in jails and prisons, organized by LESA student Searle Slutzkin. Working with Pages to Prisoners, a Bloomington-based project that sends books to prisoners, Slutzkin organized an Oct. 15 art exhibit, which included writings by prisoners and talks by people who work with prisoners.
  • A program to help crime victims cope with their feelings of victimization. David Weida worked with the Community Justice and Mediation Center, which has a program in which victims can meet with the people who harm them. Weida extended the program to include cases in which the perpetrator is not willing to participate but the victim could benefit from mediation.
  • A mentoring program in which people trying to recover from substance abuse are matched with people who are in recovery and want to support others in their sobriety. Cami Pritchett organized the program with Centerstone, a behavioral health service provider. Mentors are now being trained for the project, which will include help with jobs, housing and counseling.
  • Two projects that include weekly sessions for students. Kyle Rinne has been teaching environmental classes for children at the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington; students have built a worm composting bin, hunted for wildlife signs and gone hiking. Christie Seib has helped teach a class on alternative energy for high-school students at Harmony School, an independent school in Bloomington.

Other LESA capstone projects include developing a new learning approach for IU students who are struggling with course work, a census of Bloomington businesses that sell Fair Trade merchandise, a program of animal-assisted therapy, a class for preschoolers who are about to become big sisters or brothers, and a recycling program for a campus living units.