Research for Social Change at URCAD

Janet McGlynn is director of communication and outreach in UMBC’s Office of Undergraduate Education.

mcglynn_cropEach year I have the pleasure of organizing a unique forum for sharing students’ extraordinary research, creative projects and scholarly contributions to the common good. Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD) 2013 (Wednesday, April 24th) will feature more than 200 presentations by UMBC students on projects spanning (and sometimes blending) the disciplines.

Some of the projects aimed at contributing in creative ways to positive social change include:

  • 3D Modeling for Older Adults, by Uvonne Andoh, Farnaz Feizian and Joshua Dutterer (Mentor: Amy Hurst, Information Systems). This project explores the use of three-dimensional printing technology to help older adults gain autonomy and enhance their quality of life. 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Poster Presentation, UC Ballroom.
  • Promoting Social Change through Service Learning, by Kathleen Algire-Fedarcyk (Mentor: Jessica Guzman-Rea, Social Work). This research examines the impact of a BreakingGround grant-funded semester-long Social Work course, in [Read more…]

I Am an Activist

Trishia Domingo ’14, Information Systems, is secretary for UMBC’s Information Systems Council of Majors, vice president for the Information Systems Security Association, and practice manager for the club field hockey team.

Trishia DomingoI created this video for my Studies in Feminist Activism class (GWST 200). We were given the options to create a digital story that describes our relationship to activism, our identity as an activist, or the story of an activist that we find inspiring. Our instructor, Kate Drabinski, wants to have an archive of digital stories to showcase how UMBC students see themselves as activists. I wanted to share my story because I always saw the term “activist” as ambiguous and I knew that I was not the only one who felt this way.

Contact the author, Trishia Domingo, at

Accessibility Hack Day

Sara Leidner, UMBC’s coordinator of student life for student organizations and involvement, is the chair of UMBCServes.

Sara Leidner 2BreakingGround Community Program Grants fund innovative educational projects related to social change developed by UMBC organizations and departments. The grants are an incentive to transform what might otherwise have been one-shot service opportunities into forums for the development of civic agency. The grants program is administered by UMBCServes, a group of UMBC staff and students supporting opportunities for applied learning and community engagement.

I’ve been talking to some of this year’s grant recipients, asking them to share their ideas and stories. This video features Shaun Kane, a member of UMBC’s faculty in Information Systems, who shares the excitement and momentum behind the upcoming Accessibility Hack Day (tentatively scheduled for April 5-7, 2013).

I’m looking forward to sharing more of my conversations with grant recipients in the coming weeks.

Contact the author, Sara Leidner, at

Community Program Grants Awarded, Next Deadline 2/15

Sara Leidner is coordinator for student organizations and involvement in UMBC’s Office of Student Life.

Sara LeidnerThe deadline to apply for BreakingGround Community Program Grants has been extended to February 15, 2013. All UMBC offices, departments and recognized student organizations are eligible for this award, funded by the Provost’s Office. Three innovative community projects have already received funding:

Accessibility Hack Day: UMBC’s Prototyping and Design Research Lab (Department of Information Systems) will engage students in a competition to develop and test ideas for making video games that are accessible to people with various disabilities. Participants in this daylong event on campus will form project groups, propose ideas, build prototypes and submit their designs to a panel of expert judges, including representatives from nonprofit organizations serving people with disabilities. The goal of the project is to spark students’ interest in developing innovative technical solutions for people with disabilities, not just in the context of voluntary service but in their careers in technology-related fields.

Community Arts Projects at UMBC Professional Development Schools: UMBC’s Teacher Education Unit (Department of Education) will support UMBC students aspiring to be teachers as they develop community arts projects with teachers, students and parents at selected local elementary schools (most of which serve families living at or below poverty level). The projects will be designed to deepen cultures of collaboration at each school site; increase UMBC students’ awareness of, and experience in, working with racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse populations; and enhance all parties’ awareness of the role of the arts in teaching, learning, and community building.

Food for Thought: The UMBC Graduate Student Association will work with local partner Food for Thought to address “food deserts”: urban neighborhoods in which residents face significant challenges in procuring healthy food. UMBC graduate students will teach young people in Pigtown/Washington Village about healthy choices, introduce them to the local community garden, help them plant container gardens of their own, provide cooking classes, and help them become advocates for themselves and their communities in connection with food issues. Participating graduate students will gain connections with each other and with community partners, reflect together on food justice issues, and consider how to integrate lessons from their experiences into their lives.

Contact the author, Sara Leidner, at