COVID-19 Message

Due to the COVID-19 protocols being enacted by the University, the VBC staff will be working remotely and will not have open (or limited) office hours. During this period, responses, sign offs and review times may be delayed. Please use BSU email for correspondences with the VBC staff. Thank you for your understanding.
      Jennifer Blackmer, Executive Director -
      Kristin Ramsey, Assistant Director & Project Manager -
      Laura Huffman, Media Director -

President Mearns COVID-19 Statement

Coronavirus Disease 2019: Announcements & Resources

The Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry provides distinctive, rigorous, and transformative immersive learning experiences for Ball State students. Each year, faculty members are chosen to lead teams of up to 15 students in interdisciplinary, fully immersive seminars.

Congratulations to the new VBC Fellows for the upcoming 2019-2020 academic year!
Read about their upcoming seminars, and contact the Fellows below to apply to be a part of the projects.

Jill Christman, English - "Rape Culture in the Age of #MeToo"
Jill and students recruited from across disciplines will investigate rape culture and sexual assault on college campuses nationally, specifically assessing the climate here at Ball State, and interrogating why the rate of rape or attempted rape for women during their college careers has remained at the crisis-level of one-in-five for over thirty years. Building on the momentum of the contemporary #MeToo movement, which was built on the work of black activist Tarana Burke and is fueled by the individual and collective voices of survivors telling their own stories about rape culture and sexual violence, the students will collect stories of rape culture on campus in order to produce a pilot podcast that synthesizes and contextualizes these narratives. Additionally, they will create a report of their findings for presentation at the 2020 Midwest Safety Summit, and produce a set of stories that will be archived and made available on their community partner's website. The seminar’s community partners are local nonprofit storytelling organization, The Facing Project, and the national education and violence prevention organization Jana’s Campaign.

Laura Romano, English - "Makerspaces: Opportunities for Cultural Identity in Post-Industrial Cities"
Laura and her students from various disciplines will investigate the “makers” movement and the resulting "makerspaces" - open, community-based production facilities that enable members to not only share machines, rooms, and materials, but also to work under an ethos of distributed knowledge and cooperatively-taught skills. They will examine how these spaces cultivate direct, embodied community engagement, looking at the ways an increased emphasis on community craft and collaborative space is especially important and beneficial in post-industrial cities, including Muncie, which have struggled to form a strong cultural identity in the wake of the withdrawal of the large-scale industry that sustained these cities in decades past. Students will be critical researchers conducting oral history interviews, ethnographic observation, and participate in grounded theory research in order to craft a cohesive narrative of makers' work in Muncie and beyond. Additionally, students will craft a documentary video, as well as create a collection of digital photo essays, and a compilation of oral histories of local makers which will culminate in the production of a book featuring the stories of Muncie makers. The seminar's community partner is the Muncie Arts and Culture Council.

Read about our current academic year seminars below!

Spring 2019 Semester:
Jason Powell, Honors Humanities - "Beneficence Family Scholars"
Jason and his students will examine the issues of generational poverty, specifically in Muncie, Indiana, as they relate to promoting the value of education, the humanities, and equality. Using the model established by the Family Scholars House in Louisville, Kentucky - a pioneering organization that has successfully helped hundreds of families overcome the social, educational, and economic obstacles unique to generational poverty - the student team will create a nonprofit organization that seeks to address the comprehensive needs of the whole family, including housing, education, healthcare, nutrition, access to technology, career readiness, and financial literacy. The seminar will select and work with five single-parent families to begin a pilot program - to be introduced in the fall of 2019 - whose primary objective will be to provide the opportunity for these parents to attend college and work towards obtaining a four-year degree. Students will also develop skills in promotion and marketing, grant writing, leadership and organization, and endeavor to develop partnerships and attract community donors in order to create a long-term, sustainable program model. The seminars community partners include the Ball State’s Honors College, Ball State’s Office of the President, and the Excel Center.

Beth Turcotte, Theatre - "Mother Jones – A New Musical"
Beth and her students will delve into the first two decades of the 20th century – examining such issues as the coal mining industry and its effects on the environment and the health of its workers, the development and evolution of labor unions and labor laws, women's rights, and child labor – in order to create a new musical based on the life and times of "Mother Jones". Recognizing the importance of research in the development of a historical musical, the class will collect and integrate data from multiple existing sources (books, documentaries, museum visits, oral histories, theatrical performances), as well as develop new knowledge and insights by traveling to meet with, and interview, past and current coal mining industry workers and families. Additionally, the class will be working with a variety of consultants and a wide range of industry professionals from various fields. All of all their research, exploration and inquiry will result in the culmination of a new historical musical, "Mother Jones". The seminar’s community partner will be the Muncie Civic Theatre, which will mount the first public concert performance and host an audience discussion of the musical, donations from which will be taken to support Muncie Civic's Youth Scholarships, and further developments of the show to continue to take place in other venues.

Fall 2018 Semester:
Lynne Stallings, English - "Promoting Assessment Literacy"
Lynne and her students from a diverse array of disciplines will examine the question “How do we increase assessment literacy for Hoosier citizens?” Working closely with their community partner, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), the students will develop an understanding of the IDOE’s needs and desires regarding assessment literacy materials, while concurrently engaging in a dialogue with citizens across the state in order to gauge Hoosiers attitudes about assessment, and to analyze different community needs. Synthesizing their research and the information gained by talking with experts and Hoosiers throughout the state, the students will create a set of assessment literacy materials designed to increase assessment literacy among the general public. Throughout the process the class will work closely with Indiana's assessment experts to evaluate the accuracy of their materials, and travel to Indiana Regional Education Service Centers across the state to conduct focus groups in order to test, and evaluate the efficacy of the presentation materials. The presentation materials – which will be presented in the form of a mobile app, website, mini videos and other modes of delivery – will ensure that Hoosiers across the state not only fully understand assessment practices, but also their implications for Indiana students, schools, and communities.

Freedom Bus

See how our students worked with a community group to teach others about civil rights. Read more.

Interested in becoming a Virginia Ball Center fellow and doing a project? Click here to learn more and apply for a fellowship.

Our seminars have produced a wide range of creative projects and won distinguished awards and recognitions. For example:

  • Two documentary films, State of Assault, which focused on the medical, legal, and psychological problems faced by victims of sexual assault, and Increasing the Odds, which illuminated the strategies for starting a successful business, have each won an Emmy.
  • Traces and Trails , a museum exhibit that illustrates the geographical and historical connections between the Underground Railroad and the National Road, won a Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History.
  • Consuming a Nation , a radio series that documented the impact of globalization on tourism in Ireland, won two first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.
  • Navigating Nature , a computer game that revealed the problems of sustaining natural environments, earned an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
  • A contemporary revision of the Elizabethan drama, Dr. Faustus The Human Faustus Project, which portrayed the complications of genetic engineering, was performed at the annual meeting of the Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington, D.C. 
  • The Other Side of Middletown , a book recording the history of Muncie’s African-American community, won the Margaret Mead Award for Outstanding Research given by the American Anthropology Association.

Learn more about the Center, our benefactorour house, and the many seminars that have done incredible work within and beyond its walls.

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