Program Overview
Lehigh Valley Social Impact Fellows are a highly self-selected cohort of undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines across Lehigh University, focused on addressing social and economic development challenges in south Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley region. LVSIFs advance multi-year Inquiry to Impact (I2I) projects with local partners through Creative Inquiry (CINQ) courses for a total of six credits (three each semester). 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 partners around the region. A select number of LVSIFs will have the opportunity to participate in the Mountaintop Summer Experience to accelerate their project.

Through engaging in such meaningful, authentic, and incredibly alive projects, Fellows develop skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios to address complex societal challenges. Fellows build sustainable enterprises, publish their works in peer-reviewed journals, integrate their insights into local and national policies, and champion social movements that influence lives and livelihoods in Lehigh Valley. 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 committed local partners.

3. Engage in fieldwork with faculty mentors with decades of experience conducting research, designing solutions, and building systems in low-resource communities.

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 our community.

6. Distinguish yourself and become more competitive for prestigious fellowships and awards, graduate / professional schools, or that dream job.

7. Impact! Conducting research, developing and effecting policy solutions, and jumpstarting social enterprises is incredibly difficult but also deeply rewarding.

Timeline of IF program

2024 Lehigh Valley Social Impact Fellowship projects

1. Beyond Bars

Lead Mentor: Bill Whitney, Assistant Vice Provost for Experiential Learning Programs

2. Lehigh RiVR

Lead Mentor: Al Bodzin, Instructional Technology, College of Education

ImmersED: Social-Emotional Learning and Virtual Reality Education

3. ImmersED: Social-Emotional Learning and Virtual Reality Education

Lead Mentors: Zilong Pan, Instructional Technology, and Lia Sandilos, School Psychology

Community Mapping

5. Community Mapping for Environmental Justice

Lead Mentor: Kate Jackson, Community and Population Health

Southside Permaculture Park

6. Southside Permaculture Park

Lead Mentors: Al Wurth, Political Science, and Kate Jackson, Community and Population Health