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KEY Academy brings lifelong learning to community

Apr 8, 2022
IU logo with the words Key Academy on a red background
IU logo with the words Key Academy on a red background

KOKOMO, Ind. — What do baseball and religion have in common? What exactly do school psychologists do – and would I want to be one? How can I employ coaching strategies in my job to support my colleagues?

In a new lifelong learning program at Indiana University Kokomo, community members will be able to explore these questions and many more.

Not your normal lifelong learning experience, the KEY Academy includes immersive experiences, such as trips to ballparks, opportunities to shadow professionals, guest lectures by experts, and much more.

“We want members of the community to get their hands on their learning just as our students do in the KEY,“ explained IU Kokomo Deputy Chancellor Mark Canada.

Canada worked with IU Kokomo faculty and staff colleagues to launch the KEY (“Kokomo Experience and You”) in 2016. This experiential-learning initiative has provided hundreds of students with opportunities to collaborate on research and community projects, present their work at conferences, engage in simulations, and competitions, and travel to educational destinations such as Silicon Valley, Disney World, the United Nations, and the Chicago Board of Trade.

Now Canada and his colleagues are setting their sights on a new set of immersive experiences for community members. The lengths and formats will vary, but a typical experience will involve 4-6 meetings, usually conducted in person, over the span of a month or two (Wednesdays in June, for example). All will typically include multiple experiences, such as simulations, retreats, and field trips. IU Kokomo faculty will develop the experiences, give lectures, and lead the trips, retreats, etc.

In “Religion and Baseball … Or, the Religion of Baseball,” for example, internationally recognized religious studies scholar Eric Bain-Selbo will draw on his own and others’ research to explore the religious dimensions of America’s pastime. This experience will culminate in a trip to Wrigley Field—a shrine of sorts—for a Cubs game.

“Sport is one of the most prominent aspects of contemporary culture,” said Bain-Selbo, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. “But it is not just a form of recreation or a business or merely entertainment—it has a religious dimension to it. We’ll explore that dimension by focusing on religion and baseball or, perhaps more appropriately, the religion of baseball.”

Experiences such as this one will give participants opportunities for intellectual stimulation (and fun) while others will be designed to help participants explore careers they may wish to enter.

“Changing careers or shifting to another role within the same profession can be both a time of excitement and uncertainty,” said Leah Nellis, dean of the School of Education. “Seeing and hearing a professional in action helps us learn about a career field and make decisions about future plans with confidence, while also shaping a network of colleagues and support resources.”

Nellis, who is a national leader in the field of school psychology, is designing an immersive experience that includes opportunities to shadow school psychologists, hear from other experts, and learn about graduate school.

“As we launch this program, we welcome ideas from community members. We want to meet their needs for both intellectual stimulation and career exploration,” Canada said.

For more information, email Canada at

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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