30,000 Hands: Engaged Social Innovation students present group, individual projects

ESI major track encourages students to seek out and develop solutions to social problems
Monday, December 5, 2016

ESI students

Matching community needs to University of Iowa classes. Using art and storytelling to examine societal views about breastfeeding. Bringing classroom teaching in line with real life.

These are the types of projects that students in the Engaged Social Innovation program—a track of the Interdepartmental Studies major—have developed, and will share in Van Allen Hall Lecture Room 2 at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 8.

The Engaged Social Innovation program is a project of the UI Honors Program. Designed to pair with an existing major and extend that major’s scope into areas of social concern, the ESI track enables students to apply their learning in real-world settings. It prioritizes the experiential component of education, and also helps students construct personal and professional networks with community partners.

Here are the projects being presented on December 8:

30,000 Hands Initiative

Project Lead: Madeline Lapage
Created by: Sydney Knox, Courtney O'Meara, Sydney Hofferber, Kalena Meyer, Shannon Nolan, and Sarabeth Weszley

Created in conjunction with the Iowa Program for Public Life, 30,000 Hands is a website created to bridge the gap between the Iowa City Community and the University of Iowa. Iowa City's community of nonprofits, charities, and social good programs provide us with their existing projects and needs, and we connect them with University of Iowa professors, who can use their existing classes to meet them. Using this tool, we hope to make a difference in our city, reinvent experiential learning, and redefine the word community.

Changing the social norms of breastfeeding: A collaborative effort

Sydney Hofferber

In the scientific community, it is time to standardize the incorporation of multiple disciplines in creating proper communication and education strategies. After reviewing the literature surrounding breastfeeding and why it is still not done to the recommended levels, I have ventured from my scientific background to learn how art, storytelling, and media can communicate breastfeeding knowledge in an effective intervention.

The Attic: healing the roots of social injustices

Sarabeth Weszley

In a time of widespread division and injustice, I wanted to unite people over two common desires: food and God. The Attic is a space for people of all beliefs and walks of life to eat, create, and experiment with experiencing God together through art. It is founded on the belief that social injustices share root causes, and it attempts to address and heal those roots through honest creativity, spirituality, and community.

On the edge of creativity: reimagining the classroom experience

Shannon Nolan

Higher education is entrenched in a revolution. Students are paying more for degrees that cost less in an age where mental health, technology, and finance have different definitions than they did 50 years ago. Let's start a conversation about how classrooms and their content can greater reflect the real world college students face following graduation.


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.