IU School of Liberal Arts
College professors often get teased about having "encyclopedic knowledge" of their fields of endeavor. But when it comes to IU School of Liberal Arts professor David Bodenhamer — also executive director of the Polis Center in the school — that old saying is literally true.
The veteran IUPUI educator has guided Polis to a vital role in the life of Indiana's state capitol. Bodenhamer supervised publication of The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, a compendium of the history of the state's biggest city, and helped found one of the city's leading civic events, the Spirit & Place Festival (this year's event is Nov. 1-16) in 1996.
A renowned an expert in Anglo-American legal and constitutional history, Bodenhamer also has guided research efforts into the impact of religion on the city's development; his knowledge of communities has made Bodenhamer a regular consultant to universities, government agencies and not-for-profit and faith-based organizations throughout the U.S. and Europe.
In recent years, his direction has made the Polis Center a key player in the development of innovative GIS (geographic information systems) applications. The GIS information is vital tool to help cities, states and nations build community information systems, plan disaster management and build knowledge of health geographics. Bodenhamer is pioneering efforts to expand the use of GIS expertise in fields like the humanities, and partnerships have been built throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Interdisciplinary research and civic engagement may be a cornerstone of his professional and personal life, but Bodenhamer has other passions, too. He is a devoted fan of IU basketball, enjoys running and other exercise, and his love of music got passed along to his youngest son, a member of the Grammy Award-winning group Chanticleer.