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About Us

San Diego State University's Interwork Institute was formed in 1989 to address the transition of individuals from non-traditional groups, including persons with disabilities, from education to the community.  The Institute operates under the auspices of the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education (ARPE) in the College of Education at SDSU.  The focus of the Department has been on postsecondary education, the adult learner and non-traditional students including students and adults with disabilities.  The department currently offers graduate degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling, Postsecondary Education Leadership with an emphasis on community colleges, Student Affairs Leadership for both community colleges and four-year institutions and a doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Community College/Postsecondary Education. 

San Diego State University's Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership seeks to advance the work of public schools, community colleges, and postsecondary education throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. The program is committed to developing reflective leaders and change agents, capable of responding to the area's demographic shifts and the increasingly complex needs of educational organizations within this diverse multicultural region. Emphasizing theory, research, and practice, the program provides an opportunity for candidates to work within ongoing, active learning communities.  As they interact with faculty and other cohort members, students acquire deeper understanding of themselves as educators, leaders, policy makers, and policy advocates, developing the knowledge and skills necessary to improve student learning through creative, flexible, visionary, humane, and ethical leadership. The program strives to develop leaders who are

  • Experts in educational leadership
  • Critical thinkers informed by scholarly literature
  • Transformational change agents, possessing the skills of:
    • Problem solving
    • Management
    • Capacity of mission/vision articulation
    • Influencing the instructional environment
    • Creating collaborative and community partnerships
  • Self-aware, ethical professionals
  • Professional who value and promote access, equity, and student success 

Our staff and graduates conduct nationally recognized research on evidence-based and informed practices that promote the success of diverse students in community colleges.  We are now hosting the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College (JARCC).  Since 1993, JARCC has served the institutional research and planning professionals in community colleges. JARCC is a semi-annual peer-reviewed journal that features articles relating to the integration of research and theory to practice in community colleges. The journal provides an intellectual space to communicate innovative practices in applied research that supports educational and administrative decision-making at the institutional, state, and national levels. JARCC is published by SDSU's Ed.D. program in Community College Leadership and Community College Leadership Alumni Chapter.

The graduate program in Rehabilitation at SDSU, ranked in the top 10 graduate programs in Rehabilitation Counseling by US News and World Report, also offers graduate certificates in cognitive rehabilitation, psychiatric rehabilitation, rehabilitation technology, rehabilitation administration, supported employment/transition services, and community college teaching.

The Interwork Institute supports the faculty and programs of the ARPE Department and the University and is engaged in education, research, training and technical assistance with local, statewide, national and international partners. The Institute operates Centers that focus on specific areas of expertise.  These include the Center for Distance Learning (II-CDL), which provides the full range of distance learning strategies including universal design for learning, Creative Support Alternatives (provides intensive and lifelong supported living with individuals with significant disabilities), the Exceptional Family Resource Center (provides support and resources for families with members with disabilities during the life span), the Center for Native American Rehabilitation (provides support for tribal communities who offer vocational rehabilitation programs), and the National Rehabilitation Leadership Institute (provides executive leadership development for administrators of public rehabilitation programs).

The linkage of the ARPE and the Interwork Institute provides the ideal wealth of expertise for the DSPS programs in the California Community College system.  There is academic expertise through the various degree and certificate programs.  The Institute has been engaged in collaborative research, training and technical assistance efforts with a wide range of organizational settings, including community colleges.  The Institute staff has exceptional expertise in distance learning and the universal design for learning principles for adult learners. 

Since its inception, the Interwork Institute has been the technical assistance and continuing education provider for the vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs in Region 9, funded by the US Department of Education's rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).  Region 9 includes the nation's largest VR program in California and includes Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, the Territories of American Samoa and Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  The Federal Rehabilitation Services Administration funded Interwork Institute first as the Regional Continuing Education (RCEP) Center for Region 9, and subsequently as the Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) center for the Region prior to the end of funding for these centers in 2014.  As a TA provider covering vast distances on the mainland and the Pacific, we have experience delivering training and TA in multiple platforms using multiple instructional and delivery strategies, including electronically through our Center for Distance Learning.  We averaged over 220 TA activities per year, touching over 2,100 VR program and community partner staff (including many DSPS program staff) annually. We developed an electronic TA tracking system that became the standard model for TA Centers funded by RSA.  In addition, we created multiple methods for evaluating our program's effectiveness and used the information gathered to ensure continuous quality improvement.    

Interwork Institute's Center for Distance Learning is a nationally recognized center with expertise in developing and delivering training and technical assistance by distance.  Our instructional design expertise includes support for both online or hybrid/blended training and distance education.  We apply learner-centered approaches to ensure that the desired learning outcomes drive the technology.  II-CDL provides a full-range of website and web development services including the creation and implementation of graphic web design, the development of database, web-based applications, and online tools for learning, and the installation, hosting and managing of web server and Content and Learning Management Systems.  We fully support continuous content updates and engage in frequent multimedia and video production.