The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community incorporated the IU Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, IU announced in a Feb. 25 press release.
The IIDC is comprised of six research centers, and the Eppley Institute, which is housed by the School of Public Health, is the seventh. IIDC's core focus is to do research to make communities more accessible to people with disabilities, IIDC director Derek Nord said. The Eppley Institute seeks to make parks accessible to everyone.
“There is a lot of overlap in our missions,” Nord said.
The IIDC wanted to incorporate the Eppley Institute to reach communities in parks and recreation that they hadn’t yet, he said. Nord said the inclusion of the Eppley Institute will lead to collaborative work between the two institutes.
Nord said the team at the Eppley Institute will continue to implement its projects, including consultation with park services and addressing accessibility concerns.
"All people have the right to live, recreate and be fully included in their community," Nord said in the release. "One's disability status should not dictate these outcomes."
The incorporation of the Eppley Institute will provide more job and research opportunities to the IU community, Nord said. The IIDC trains undergraduate and graduate students to work for the Eppley Institute as research assistants.
Eppley Institute executive director Stephen Wolter said the IIDC and Eppley joining together gives the Eppley Institute the ability to work across IU’s campus, rather than only in the School of Public Health. He said it’s powerful to work with different disciplines and students.
"Our mission and values dovetail with the work of the IIDC," Wolter said in the release. "The projects conducted by Eppley have had significant impacts to community health, quality of place and experiences for all peoples."
IU interim vice provost for research Jeff Zaleski said the Eppley Institute’s parks and recreation resources and local volunteers will help the IIDC as well.
The IIDC is one of 21 research centers, institutes and museums the IU-B Office of the Vice Provost oversees, Zaleski said. The IIDC is one of the broadest centers, and he said it’s an example of how to do community-based research in Indiana schools.
"The IIDC is a leader in interdisciplinary, applied research that advances change in the state and country," Zaleski said in the release. "Together, the Indiana Institute and programs at Eppley will be even better positioned to create new opportunities for sharing of ideas and innovations that benefit everyone."