The IELab was originally established as a research unit within the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change at Indiana University. Funding was provided through National Science Foundation grant BCS-0215738, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences of Indiana University, Bloomington.
Located in Woodburn Hall on the IU Bloomington campus, the development of the IELab was a joint endeavor of faculty and staff from Economics, Geography, Political Science, and Psychology, as well as Library and Information Sciences, spearheaded by Elinor Ostrom, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.
The original lab proposal aimed to develop a unique combination of state-of-the-art spatial, visualization, and experimental capabilities within a behavioral science research laboratory facility. By remodeling space in Woodburn Hall-a central building on the Bloomington campus-purchasing major equipment, linking that equipment within the laboratory and with field settings and other labs in the USA, and developing open-source, innovative software, the IELab has begun to fulfill its goal of providing a unique facility for behavior research in the social sciences.
The IELab is devoted to research, instruction, and policy analysis on complex systems at multiple temporal and geographic scales. New capabilities are being developed for spatially arrayed agent-based models, and three-dimensional (3-D) visualization of social systems, as well as for behavioral experiments and GIS technologies in social science research. The research group conducting this research is multi-disciplinary with strong records of field and laboratory research in anthropology, economics, geography, information science, political science, and psychology.
The laboratory provides the infrastructure for fostering stronger linkages between the researchers involved in original grant proposal, as well as creating opportunities for enlarging the community of scholars and students interested in innovative social science behavioral research. The laboratory encourages new faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates at Indiana University-and other universities and agencies to participate in the testing of current social science theories at the IE Lab.
While considerable experimental social science research has been conducted on the Indiana University Bloomington campus for decades, none of the previously existing labs were sufficiently large, internally linked, or equipped with high-end work stations able to manipulate very large data files or utilize advanced video equipment for communication and recording of experimental subjects' verbal communications or body movements. The IELab provides this potential.
The IELab facility includes a common work place for faculty and students who want to study diverse complex systems to meet, brainstorm and test ideas for model development. The larger lab space allows and the more advanced computing facility allows for a greater diversity of interactive experiments.
It is our goal and our expectation that the facility will enhance multi-disciplinary research by allowing faculty, post-docs, and students in multiple disciplines to collaborate together. The facility provides the research environment within which researchers are able to coalesce around common methodological approaches.
The IELab also serves other functions besides experimentation and data analysis related to complex systems. When experiments are not in progress, the laboratory is used for instruction, as well as a work area for data analysis, data visualization, data archiving, and model development.