Notre Dame’s Center for Civic Innovation joins Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society to foster data-driven advancements in South Bend communities

Notre Dame’s Center for Civic Innovation on West Washington Street in South Bend (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

The mansions of the Studebaker and Oliver families that line West Washington Avenue in South Bend, Indiana, stand as a testament to the city’s history as a powerhouse of industrial innovation. Just a few blocks to the west, the University of Notre Dame Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) highlights the power of community partners, working together to address the needs of the community. Formed in 2018, the CCI has worked to strengthen the University’s efforts to build connections, driving innovation by developing new programs and technologies with local partners.

Now, the CCI is strengthening its connection to applied research by merging with Notre Dame’s Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society. The merger will allow the CCI to expand existing research and education opportunities and enhance its data-driven approach to increasing the region’s civic engagement. 

“From the very beginning, starting with the Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem, which helped restore a local polluted waterway, we have always had a strong thread of data analysis and data visualization in the work that we do,” says Jay Brockman, professor of the practice of Computer Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering. Brockman, who has served as the director of the CCI explains that, “joining the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society is an opportunity to bring greater impact into our communities, and a broader reach throughout campus.” 

A student intern presents a GIS map as part of the intern team working on the data Michiana project at the Center for Civic Innovation in South Bend. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

The CCI will also be renamed as the Civic Innovation Lab (CIL). The downtown office will serve as a vibrant hub for campus and community collaborations. 

“The University’s new strategic framework is guiding us toward deeper engagement with the local community and to think institutionally,” says Nitesh Chawla, Founding Director of Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society and Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. “Welcoming the Center for Civic Innovation into the Lucy Family Institute as the Civic Innovation Lab is helping to advance the University towards this mission, igniting our collaborative capacity to address challenges directly in our local community.” 

The Civic Innovation Lab will continue to offer internship and educational opportunities to area students to tackle complex community-based issues by developing civic engagement projects in the local community. These programs will supplement educational opportunities already available through the Lucy Family Institute that explore data science through the lens of social responsibility. 

Future projects are already underway within the Lucy Institute framework. “This is an exciting time for us,” says Chawla. “We are embarking on an adventurous new convergence that can only help to reinforce our mission to produce innovations as a force for good.”

To learn more about ongoing research and educational opportunities within the Lucy Institute, please visit the website.


Christine Grashorn, Communications Specialist
Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.4856 / @UNDResearch

About the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society

Guided by Notre Dame’s Mission, the Lucy Family Institute adventurously collaborates on advancing data-driven convergence research, translational solutions, and education to ethically address society’s wicked problems. As an innovative nexus of academia, industry, and the public, the Institute also fosters data science access to strengthen diverse and inclusive capacity building within communities. Our vision is to become the preeminent intellectual beacon, inspiring collaborative, equitable, and impactful data innovations as a global force for good.