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Research and Teaching Agenda

1. Documenting Deindustrialization

The purpose of the original Middletown study was to gauge the impact of rapid industrialization during the early 20th century. A hundred years later, both Muncie and the nation are in the midst of another dramatic transformation, the shift from a manufacturing based to a knowledge driven economy. The center now seeks to document this transformation and its impact on Muncie and the Midwest. 

2. Small Cities Research 

The Lynds and their sponsors conceived of Middletown as a “small city study.” In keeping with that idea, the center has made the investigation of small-city experiences a key part of its research agenda. Since 2001, the center has convened periodic Small Cities Conferences. These meetings have brought together scholars and practitioners from around the world to discuss and analyze the history, present condition, and future prospects of nonmetropolitan cities both in the U.S. and abroad. It has produced numerous publications in connection with the conference and now sponsors a Comparative Urban Studies publication series with Lexington Books that encourages research on smaller and mid-sized urban settings. 

3. Digital Humanities Scholarship 

The Center seeks to capitalize on the new tools and techniques made possible by emerging media.  It built the What Middletown Read database, a large body of searchable, digitized library records that document virtually every book that every patron checked out of the Muncie Public Library from 1892 to 1902.  It recently launched the Virtual Middletown Project, which reproduces online three-dimensional interpretations of Muncie’s past that draw upon Middletown research and archival material.  The center also continues to work with University Libraries to digitize materials connected to Middletown research and to develop virtual and web environments derived from the extensive records of research on the city. 

4. Immersive Learning 

The center supports Ball State faculty seeking to develop and implement immersive learning experiences for students. Past projects include Changing Gears and Adolescent Well-Being in Middletown (undertaken with the Department of Sociology), and the Middletown Theatre Project.  

Center for Middletown Studies
Bracken Library (BL), Room 203
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Phone: 765-285-8037
Fax: 765-285-3571