Global Social Impact Fellowship

You are here

GSIF Applications Now Open! Click Below to Apply
Applications are due Sunday, November 10th, 11:59pm EDT
  • The Global Goals for Sustainable Development...
  • ...are GLOBAL!
  • There is only one world. We are all in the same boat. We share messy problems and scarce resources.
  • Developing countries have billions of people...
  • who are brilliant, and, by the way, excellent fishermen)
  • and extremely hardworking, and happy and,
  • ...well, just like people everywhere
  • ...but bear a disproportionate burden of disease,
  • ...lack access to clean water, energy, sanitation,
  • ...and food security challenges, exacerbated by climate change.
  • While living the principles of Empathy,
  • Equity,
  • and Ecosystems,
  • Global Social Impact Fellows conduct original research and design innovative and practical solutions
  • that address challenges and create and bolster livelihoods.
  • Fellows work with partners in several countries
  • to build independent self-sustaining enterprises and solutions
  • that solve problems that matter
  • and have the potential to scale up
  • to multi-million smile enterprises.
  • So whats it like to be a Global Social Impact Fellow? In one word, INTENSE!
  • Fellows representing every college across campus
  • collaborate with professors in the classroom,
  • in the lab,
  • and in the field,
  • to develop these skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios and leverage them to do
  • whatever it takes to develop solutions and build social enterprises.
  • Students share knowledge in refereed journals,
  • build networks at professional conferences,
  • and cultivate life-long friendships with peers.
  • Global Social Impact Fellows pursue graduate, medical, or law school at the finest universities;
  • aspire for prestigious fellowships and service opps like Fulbrights, Peace Corps, and TFA;
  • and pursue careers in social innovation and sustainable development in the long-term.
  • UN, nonprofits, government, startups, social enterprises, industry, consulting, academia...
  • wherever they are, GSI Fellows get stuff done,
  • and deliver Impact.
  • Impact.
  • Impact.
  • Come on over. Pick up your bundle of sticks.
  • Lets build a world that works for everyone.

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 India) 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.

Global Social Impact Fellow Logistics:

 

Spring Semester

Summer Term

Fall Semester

Academic Coursework

CINQ 388: 1 credit

CINQ 389: 2+ credits

None

CINQ 388: 1 credit

CINQ 389: 2+ credits

Retreats and Workshops

Full day Kick-off Workshop

Full day Fieldwork Preparation Retreat

In-country Fieldwork in Sierra Leone or Phliippines (3 weeks)

** Optional field trips to local universities and relevant workshops

Full Day Research Writing Workshop

Half-Day Passing the Baton Workshop and Celebratory Dinner

Formal Presentations

Lehigh Expo in April

** Only for GSIFs in the Mountaintop Summer Experience

** Professional and Academic Conference Presentations

       

 

  1. CINQ 388: Inquiry to Impact Workshop Series [1 Credit]: Weekly hands-on workshops and interactive seminars for all Fellows across all the GI2I projects.

  2. CINQ 389: Inquiry to Impact Projects[2-4 Credits]: Separate sections for each team working on sustainable development challenges in Sierra Leone, the Philippines, or India. The team typically meets with the faculty mentor once a week; all project work is done outside of class times.

  3. All full-day workshops will be held on weekends or holidays; meals will be provided.

  4. Each team has the option of having a two-person team take a deep dive into the project for the Mountaintop Summer Experience. Additional students might be funded depending on project needs and availability of funds.

Fieldwork funding: As a fellow, the in-country fieldwork is mandatory. The GSIF program will cover most in-country expenses for students including local transport, lodging, most meals, communication, and coordination expenses. The GSIF program will help students acquire funds for airfare, visas, vaccinations, and insurance from various sources. These expenses are estimated to total $2,000. In the application form, please indicate your funding needs.

GSIF project teams are eligible to apply for the Langer Grant for International Creative Inquiry Projects, with funding
generously provided by Michael Langer '17, to help support their fieldwork activities.  

  • Unless marked as optional, GSIFs are expected to participate in all courses, seminars, and workshops. No exceptions.

Application Process

  • We don’t expect applicants to know how to do these things. Just come prepared to learn.
  • Certain skills matter and are needed, but what we are looking for is passion, deep commitment, and work ethic. GPAs don’t matter...much.
  • You should have the time in your academic and personal schedule for this commitment - don't overload just to do it.

2020 Global Social Impact Fellowship 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 2019, Global I2I projects are being championed in Sierra Leone, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan in collaboration with local university and non-profit partners.

Sierra Leone: UTI Test Strips to Improve Maternal Health (PI: Khanjan Mehta)
Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. This team is working on inexpensive (2-cent) test strips to screen women for Urinary Tract Infections and Preeclampsia in Sierra Leone. The team just hired their first employee in Sierra Leone to mobilize communities and distribute test strips and are in the final stages of receiving regulatory approval from the Pharmacy Control Board. The next step in the journey is to strengthen field operations, design and implement effective messaging strategies, develop stronger data collection systems, and demonstrate the ability of the test strips to save lives with the goal of convincing the public health system (and donors) to integrate the test strips into the national healthcare system. The team will also explore how these test strips can be introduced in Liberia, Madagascar, and other countries with similar challenges. All majors welcome. We specifically need students with 1) marketing / graphic design skills, 2) journalism / theatre / public speaking skills, 3) data management and analysis skills, and 4) business / operations and systems engineering skills.

Sierra Leone: Mushroom Production Systems (PI: Khanjan Mehta)
Mushrooms grow fast! Commercial production of mushrooms can improve local food security, reduce malnutrition, and augment livelihoods. After tremendous success in Cambodia, this team is designing a commercial mushroom production ecosystem in Sierra Leone. After two years of work, the team has successfully jumpstarted oyster mushroom production with a local project manager now running operations. It’s time to figure out how to stabilize and grow operations from 10 kgs/month to 1,000 kgs/month. Further work includes 1) problem-solving on mushroom growth issues as they arise in Sierra Leone, 2) (re)designing facilities for larger production volumes, 3) developing business / operational models for larger production volumes, 4) developing the market and marketing strategies for mushrooms, and 5) writing grant proposals and finding partners to scale operations. All majors welcome. We specifically need students with 1) experience working with mushrooms, 2) business/operations and marketing strategy development and execution 3) solid writing skills to pull together a bunch of proposals.

Sierra Leone: Sickle Cell Anemia Diagnostic Device (PI: Xuanhong Cheng)
Sickle cell disease is prevalent in Sierra Leone and contributes significantly to the high mortality rate of children. Current diagnosis of sickle cell in Sierra Leone is mostly symptom-based since standard diagnostic equipment requires too much training and infrastructure to be implemented in resource-limited settings. To tackle this problem, students will develop point-of-care test strips for sickle cell disease and study the impact of diagnosis on patients’ outcomes. The end goal of this project is to make the tests widely available in Sierra Leone as part of a program to identify and manage sickle cell patients. All majors welcome. We specifically need students with 1) wet bench experience to work with biological samples such as proteins, DNA and blood, 2) experience and interest in prototyping imagers and processing images from the test strips, 3) experience and interest in health surveys, and 4) solid writing skills to prepare proposals and research papers.

Sierra Leone: Food Product to Fight Malnutrition and Stunting (PI: Lori Herz)
Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are common in Sierra Leone, especially among children under five years of age.  This often results in stunting, wasting, developmental delays, and mortality. Over the past year, we have developed several nutrient-dense foods at Lehigh, which were prepared and tested in Sierra Leone last summer.  The next phase of the work includes improvement of the recipes, investigating methods of preservation and packaging, analysis of the products for nutrient levels, shelf-life testing, designing a clinical study, and creating and executing a business plan. Students on this project should have a passion for global health and experiential learning. All majors welcome.

Sierra Leone: Safe Motherhood in Sierra Leone – Documenting Stories of Healthcare Innovation and Community Resilience (PI: Michael Kramp)
Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, and the nation has responded with recent health care innovations that attempt to address this crisis. This team has focused on specific challenges and responsive innovations to confront the maternal health crisis. Our long-term goal is to produce a festival-ready documentary film. At this point, we are focused on relating three shorter stories that highlight both the extent of the problem and some of the innovations: (1) the impact of midwifery training, (2) the education of local surgeons, and (3) the operations of the weekly pre-natal care days. In 2020, we will return to Sierra Leone to conduct additional field work, engage the local health care system, produce additional shorter videos, and work toward the full-length documentary film. We will distribute these shorter videos in online formats to garner publicity and financial support for our project. All majors are welcome and you need not have filmmaking experience to participate. We are particularly interested in recruiting students pursuing careers in health-related fields.

Philippines: PlasTech Ventures – Empowering Women by Recycling Plastic to Produce High Value Products (PI: Ganesh Balasubramanian; Co-PIs: Brian Slocum, Don Morris, Wesley Heiss, Khanjan Mehta)
This project aims to provide income opportunities for women in a partnering local community (Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines) by building a community-based, micro-recycling facility.  Now in year two of the project, some opportunities have been identified and but a good amount of work is needed to develop the equipment needed to make this practical.  Moving forward we need to further assess the market opportunities, continue development on equipment, and develop a path for technology transfer and training. Through this project, women in the community will be manufacturing up-cycled products themselves, thus emphasizing gender equality and empowerment. Aside from finished goods, useful raw materials may also be made and supplied to local manufacturers to turn into high-value products. All majors welcome.  We specifically need students with an understanding of mechanical engineering, materials science, and/or supply chain management.

Sierra Leone: Diagnosing Autism in Africa (PI: Kristi Morin)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is considered a global health concern; however, nearly everything we know about autism comes from research in high-income countries. The dearth of research on ASD is particularly problematic in countries across Africa. A recent review revealed that Africa had the least amount of autism research conducted in the world, likely due to the lack of a culturally appropriate screening and diagnostic tool to identify individuals with ASD. Through this project, we will evaluate tools commonly used in the United States to diagnose autism in order to assess their feasibility and cultural appropriateness. We will also collect qualitative data during a trip to Sierra Leone to inform the development of a freely available, culturally appropriate screening and diagnostic tool for use in West Africa. All majors welcome. We specifically need students with 1) skills in assessment, 2) interest/experience with ASD, or 3) experience with qualitative research.

Philippines: Culturally Appropriate Birthing Practices (PI: Sabrina Jedlicka)
In the Philippines, as in many countries, birthing practices in the health care system often conflict with certain cultural and religious practices, not to mention having a “one size fits all” approach that ignores the needs of individual populations. The goal of this project is to design culturally-sensitive birthing tables for the mothers of Brgy. Krus na Ligas (KNL), an area of Quezon City in metropolitan Manila. The major gaps identified through initial interviews with local health workers are the durability of existing tables as well as their size. The team will also generate a business model to ensure that the process of arriving at an appropriate design can be scaled and replicated in other urban poor communities and rural areas in the Philippines. All majors welcome.

Philippines: Copra Processing and Process Streamlining (PI: Sabrina Jedlicka)
Copra, the dried sections of the meat of coconuts, is valued for its many uses including coconut oil extract, but is also a major agricultural export for the Philippines. It is often processed using traditional, time-consuming and inefficient methods including sun-drying and smoke-drying, before being processed into its various products. This project’s goal is to improve copra processing and process streamlining for increased income of copra farmers in the Philippines. Identified needs include a faster, all-weather processing technique that yields better copra quality compared to manual methods, and a way for farmers to communicate over long distances. All majors welcome, but at this stage, we are particularly in need of students with interests in Mechanical Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Product Design, and Supply Chain Management.

Kazakhstan: Community Engagement and Environmental Initiatives (PI: Dinissa Duvanova)
Kazakhstan has a long history of experiencing irreversible environmental changes that have long-lasting socioeconomic effects. A number of environmental problems—desertification around the disappearing Aral Sea, radiation pollution at old Soviet nuclear testing sites, the melting of glaciers and water shortages—put a unique set of pressures on local communities and public infrastructure. This project team will research public environmental initiatives and localized efforts to address environmental challenges. Students will identify specific environmental challenges, study their social, economic, and cultural impacts and collaborate with local NGOs and universities in evaluating alternative solutions. All majors welcome.

Kazakhstan: Urban Design and Smart Cities in Almaty (PI: Khanjan Mehta)
Smart city project innovations are being introduced throughout Kazakhstan, particularly in the country’s largest city, Almaty. These innovations are being seen in the areas of health care, education, and safety/security, among many others. As Almaty continues to grow and develop into a major world capital, the need for it to be on the leading edge of the “smart cities” movement will only increase. This project will work with community organizations and leading universities in Kazakhstan, as well as students from Lingnan University in Hong Kong, to design and develop the next generation of smart city urban design innovations, and find ways to work with governmental and NGO entities to implement those solutions into the Kazakh capital. All majors welcome, particularly those students who are interested in urban design solutions, environmental best practices in cities, smart technology integration, and public policy.