Program Overview

Global Social Impact Fellows are a highly self-selected cohort of undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines across Lehigh University focused on addressing sustainable development challenges in low-income countries. GSIFs advance Global Inquiry to Impact (GI2I) projects in the Spring and Fall semester (total six credits) and engage in faculty-guided fieldwork with diverse local partners in the Summer session. The courses, workshops, retreats, and immersive experiences of this program integrate experiential learning, research, and entrepreneurial engagement with students leading original and ambitious projects with in-country partners in diverse countries. A select number of GSIFs have the opportunity to participate in the Mountaintop Summer Experience to advance their project.

Through engaging in such meaningful, authentic, and incredibly alive projects, Fellows develop skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios to solve complex societal challenges. Fellows build sustainable enterprises, publish their works in peer-reviewed journals, integrate their insights into national policies, and champion social movements that influence the lives of millions of people. The quest for sustainable impact drives the philosophy, pedagogy, and operations of this program with the objective of preparing students to lead lives of impact.

Program Benefits: What’s In It for Me?

  1. An opportunity to work collaboratively with the most driven students from across the university on ambitious multi-year projects striving to deliver social impact.
  2. Work across disciplines, cultures, language and time barriers to develop practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions with in-country partners - through virtual teaming in the Spring and Fall semester and on-the-ground fieldwork in the Summer session.
  3. Engage in fieldwork (in Sierra Leone, Philippines, or Kazakhstan) with faculty mentors with decades of experience conducting research, designing solutions, and building systems in developing countries.
  4. Conduct original research and get your work published in journals and conference proceedings. Travel to conferences to present your work and build your professional network.
  5. Develop your life skills and build life-long friendships with peers at Lehigh and with some amazing people in the countries we work in.
  6. Distinguish yourself and become more competitive for prestigious fellowships and awards, graduate / professional schools, or that dream job.
  7. Impact! Conducting research and jumpstarting social enterprises is incredibly difficult but also deeply rewarding.
Timeline for IF program.
Global Social Impact Fellowship (GSIF) Projects

Global Inquiry to Impact projects are multi-year projects with interdisciplinary cross-functional teams engaging in the research, design, field-testing, and implementation of projects and social enterprises in low-resource and middle-income communities and markets. These ventures aim to deliver practical, sustainable, and scalable solutions to complex challenges including those related to food, energy, water, and health. Sustainability, in this context, refers to the notion that real solutions must be technologically appropriate, socially acceptable, environmentally benign, and economically sustainable. There is a recognition that ideas, presentations, and prototypes do not solve problems; the real challenge is in the implementation, assessment, and fast-paced pivoting to reach a higher sustainable equilibrium. The challenge is in the execution - getting the job done in partnership with diverse actors in an ethical, harmonious, and self-determined manner. As of Fall 2021, Global I2I projects are being championed in Sierra Leone, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan, in collaboration with local university and non-profit partners

2024 GSIF Projects


2. Sierra Leone: Artificial Intelligence Strengthening Healthcare Access (AISHA)

Lead Mentor: Eric Obeysekare, Computer Science and Engineering 

3. Sierra Leone: SicklED - Sickle Cell Disease Diagnostic Device

Lead Mentor: Xuanhong Cheng, Bioengineering

Mothers of Sierra Leone

4. Sierra Leone: Mothers of Sierra Leone – Healthcare Innovation and Community Resilience

Lead Mentors: Michael Kramp, English/Film/WGSS, and Fathima Wakeel, Community and Population Health


5. Sierra Leone: Newtrition - Food Products to Improve Nutrition

Lead Mentor: Sean Vassilaros, Computer Science and Business


6. Philippines: PlasTech Ventures - From Sachet to Solutions: Turning Trash into Treasures

Lead Mentor: Eric Obeysekare, Computer Science and Engineering 


7. Philippines: Modular Small-Scale Desalination Plants

Lead Mentor: Carlos Romero, Energy Research Center


8. Philippines: AgriWrap – Converting Food Waste into Biodegradable Packaging Products

Lead Mentor: Eric Obeysekare, Computer Science and Engineering 


9. Philippines: Using Low-Tech Phones for Tuberculosis Treatment Adherence

Lead Mentor: Sean Vassilaros, Computer Science and Business


10. Philippines: Transforming the Metal Recycling Landscape

Lead Mentors: Wojtek Misiolek and Nicholas Rockwell, Materials Science and Engineering

Save Tuba

11. Kazakhstan: Save Tuba

Lead Mentor: Sean Vassilaros, Computer Science and Business

Central Asia Researchers

12. Kazakhstan: Central Asian Researchers Network

Lead Mentors: Eric Obeysekare, Computer Science and Engineering 

Food Security

13. Kazakhstan: Food Security and Nutrition

Lead Mentor: Joseph Menicucci, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


14. India: Future Makers Unlimited

Lead Mentor: Khanjan Mehta, Creative Inquiry


Philippines: Zero Hunger College

**This project is suspended in 2024. No new students will be recruited**

Flying Swarms

Philippines: Flying Swarms

**This project is suspended in 2024. No new students will be recruited**

Queer Travel Zine 2024