University of Iowa


Students in the Engaged Social Innovation track begin with four core courses, which include a course that prepares them to develop their capstone project. Students also select (at any point before their final semester) 15 s.h. of upper-level course work – generally numbered 3000 or over – that gives them the knowledge and background they need for their capstone project. The major ends with a 6 s.h. capstone project, which is done in the year prior to graduation. 

Core Courses (12 s.h.)

Students complete four core courses:

  1. RHET:2400 Idea to Innovation – 3 s.h.
  2. ENTR:2000 Entrepreneurship and Innovation – 3 s.h.
  3. ENTR:3500 Social Entrepreneurship – 3 s.h.
  4. HONR:2600 Honors Special Topics: Fieldwork in Social Innovation – 3 s.h.

Individualized Plan of Study (15 s.h.)

Course work selected by each student must reflect and support the student’s internship project. All course work must be upper level (generally numbered 3000 or higher).

Submit the following information to

  1. A statement of intellectual focus
  2. A faculty mentor (and why they are the best mentor choice for you)
  3. A course list (and a short description of why this course will help you towards your intellectual/capstone goals)
  4. Why or how these classes fit together

Capstone Project (6 s.h.)

Students must complete the ESI Project Proposal Form before registering for INTD:4098 Independent Study.

Students find or create internship opportunities for the major, working closely with faculty mentors and advisors. Students may work on projects related to communities in Iowa or to other communities of particular interest to students, including those in other countries. Students can create their own initiatives or work as a cohort and become part of the existing local or national engagement initiatives as they pursue their capstone project. This project can be 6 s.h. during the student's final semester, or 3 s.h. each of the student's final two semesters. 

Interested in ESI?

Contact Andy Tinkham at to get started or learn more!


Shortly after being admitted to the major track, students will be asked to identify a faculty mentor. Mentors will help students craft a plan of study for those semester hours not connected to one of the core courses (listed below). Mentors need not be located in a student’s primary major department, and students are encouraged to look across the University when choosing a mentor. Mentors serve an advisory, conversational, and networking role; they help the student articulate what engaged social innovation means and looks like with respect to the student’s academic and career vision. While collaboration with students via internships or independent studies is possible, it is not required of the mentor.

For Honors Students:

The Engaged Social Innovation major can fulfill 12 hours of honors experiential learning credit. To receive this credit, apply to graduate through MyUI and submit your Honors Major Application by the deadline. For more information, go to Honors in the Major.

The submission to the Honors Repository will contain:

  1. Why you chose this project, why it was unique to you? (400 word minimum)
  2. Abstract of the project (400 word minimum)
  3. Capstone Documentation (can be in picture, video, word formats)
  4. What you are doing next (200 word minimum)

In addition to submitting this information, you will need to email Andrew Tinkham ( a PDF of these four components and a screenshot of the submission confirmation from the Honors Repository by the deadline.

Video Recording for an ESI project
Teaching in ESI
Teaching Yoga for ESI

From left to right: Sydney working on her breastfeeding intervention; Jessica teaching elementary kids about religious tolerance; Helaina leading a yoga class for fathers recently released from prison.

Timeline Checklist

Checklist for graduating with ESI
Done? Task Due Date

Apply to the ESI Major

By the fall (Sept. 30) of your Junior Year

Two years left before graduation


Choose your Mentor

Within 15 weeks of being accepted into the program


Submit your Plan of Study

Within 15 weeks of being accepted into the program


Submit your ESI Project Proposal

The semester before you plan to start the project

Must be done by the second month (Feb, Sept) of the semester before your final semester at the UI


(Honors Students) Apply to

Graduate with Honors in ESI

When the Honors in the Major Application is due in the semester you wish to graduate in


Turn in your Capstone

The Wednesday of your last Final's Week (when Honor's Thesis are due)