Polis (pōləs): city (Greek); a community characterized by a sense of making a difference for the greater good
The Polis Center–a unit in the IU School of Informatics and Computing-IUPUI—works with community partners in Indiana and beyond to develop innovative place-based policies and practices for healthier and more resilient communities. It supports disaster mitigation, population health management, community development, and quality-of-life efforts.
Polis Center experts use geospatial technologies to integrate, manage, and visualize the rapidly growing information on the places in which we live and work. The center helps organizations more clearly understand gaps in service, trends, assets, and ways to build capacity. Its four areas of emphasis tackle specific problems that impact daily lives and influence actions and developments in each other.
From inception, The Polis Center has been guided by core values that include: making a difference, collaboration, developing creative solutions to real-world problems, accountability, integrity, respect, and stewardship.
In 1994, we published a 1,600-page encyclopedia that provides a comprehensive social, cultural, economic, historical, political, and physical description of Indianapolis. It is hailed as a national model for urban encyclopedias. We are developing the digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. A product of the Indianapolis bicentennial effort (2020–21), the digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis will integrate and access the explosion and fragmentation of knowledge created both as born-digital information and as a large new digital archive.
From 1996 to 2002, we used a community-academic collaboration to explore and understand the ways in which religion and community have shaped each other in Greater Indianapolis. In the process, we compiled the largest collection of meaningful religious data ever gathered on one American city. Working through community-based partnerships, we cultivated public inquiry and civic conversation about the role of religion in this exemplar metropolitan community. This seven-year study of religion and community in Indianapolis was funded by grants from Lilly Endowment, Inc. Lilly Endowment, Inc. has granted another award for us to examine how Indianapolis congregations have responded to social and economic changes since the Center’s pioneering project on Religion and Urban Culture.