Undergraduate Action Research for Social Justice

Fellowship Alumni


University Valedictorians


Fulbright Scholars


Total Action Research Projects

Action Research with Social Enterprises

Miller Center accelerates leadership by providing students with opportunities to learn and work with social enterprises that are on the front lines of poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States.


The Miller Center Lewis Family Fellowship is a fully-funded summer field experience along with two-quarters of classwork and academic research for Santa Clara University junior-level students.
Fellows are awarded a $5,000 stipend.


Members of historically underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Research Model

The action research model of our fellowship simultaneously supports rigorous, transformative undergraduate student learning and the scaling of social enterprises in developing countries that participate in our world-class accelerator programs. Action research is a practice-led approach that emphasizes learning from working with social enterprises. This provides a robust value exchange between students and social enterprises.

Ashoka U awarded our fellowship the Cordes Innovation Award in Academic Student Learning for 2017. This is the most prestigious award in social enterprise higher education.


Projects for 2022


Innovation Works


To reduce Baltimore’s racial wealth divide by teaching and accompanying members of disinvested communities to build and own successful social enterprises.


Banka BioLoo


Provide functioning bio-toilets in places where toilets are rare and facilities are bare


Gham Power


Empowering rural Nepali communities to thrive


Nurture Africa


To nurture the mental, physical and emotional growth of vulnerable youth


Someone Somewhere


Contribute to the wellbeing of artisans by integrating their traditional work with innovative products & channels that generate regular & fair job opportunities




Solageo empowers local entrepreneurs to expand solar energy and safe water access.


Business for Health Solutions


Increase healthcare access for communities in Africa by building the capacity of local healthcare enterprises.


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Sister’s Blended Value Project


African Women Rising Video Project


Whirlwind Wheelchair International

Honors Thesis Work

Haley Harada, Finance, 2018

Pathways to Accelerate Social Enterprises that use Mobile Information Communication Technology

Grace Krueger, Biology, 2018

Social Enterprise Acceleration Services for Sub-Saharan African Health: Positive Impacts of New Program Innovations

Karen Mac, Public Health, 2018

Understanding Sanitation Preferences: A Human Centered Approach to Tackling India’s Open Defecation Crisis

Marisa Rudolph, Environmental Science & Political Science, 2018

Women’s Agency for Ghanaian Agricultural Development

Erika Francks, Environmental Studies, 2017

The Future of Solar Microgrids in Sub-Saharan Africa: How social enterprises can accelerate the spread of renewable energy to off-grid communities

Carson Whisler, Economics, 2017

A Coordinated Approach to Investing in Clean Energy Access

Victoria Yu, Communication, 2016

Using the Simulation Operation Belmont to Teach Research Ethics

William Swanson, Political Science, 2016

Assessing Social Impact in Base of the Pyramid Markets

Caroline de Bie, Public Health Science, 2015

Would Paul Farmer like BanaPads? An Assessment of Social Enterprise as a Women’s Health Intervention

Monet Gonnerman, Sociology, 2015

Women’s Livelihood Creation and the Affiliation Capability: A Critical Programmatic Analysis

Jesse Caemmerer, SCU Political Science, 2014

Phillip T. Cooke SJ, 2014

Social Entrepreneurship and Jesuit Social Ministries: A New Path of Liberation. A thesis in partial fulfillment of a Sacred Theology Licentiate at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Nikita Agrawal, 2014

Cost-effective Health Interventions for Improved Education and Employment: An Integrated Approach to Development

Jack I. Bird, 2014

The Potential of Agroforestry to Reduce Energy Poverty and Environmental Degradation in Rural Zambia

Ashley Armstrong, 2013

The Efficacy of Microfinance in Alleviating Food Insecurity

Amanda Nelson, 2013

Savings and the Poor: A Review of Savings Products Offered by Microfinance Institutions

Mary Nicole Nienow Birch, 2013

Public Health Interventions in the Developing World: An Opportunity for Social Enterprise Involvement

Emma Hokoda. 2020

Women Who Dare: Success Factors for Women Sales Agents of Solar Products in Tanzania

Joseph Curran, 2019

Microcredit 3.0: The Potential of Financing Business Assets for Financially Excluded Entrepreneurs

Varsha Kalavar, 2019.

Innovative Partnerships Enhancing Care Delivery in India

Emily Petermann, 2020

Catholic Sisters as Faithful Agents of Sustainable Development

Are you ready to take the next step?


These fellows have been selected to conduct practical research commissioned by Miller Center’s family of social enterprises and select partners.

Banka BioLoo


Claire Long
Major: Biology, Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Dance
I believe I will come away from this experience as a more culturally aware, creative, and confident version of myself. I want to better understand my own cultural biases, so that I can commit myself to limiting them while respecting the traditions and practices of all people. I am excited to look back on our work as Fellows and be collectively proud.
Maggie Dubus
Major: Bioengineering
I thoroughly enjoy the immersive aspect of action research. It not only allows for the social enterprise to gain a research project for implementation from us, but we, as fellows, come to understand the context of the social enterprise in their specific culture and the direct effects of the enterprise's efforts. This immersive experience is directly related to my career goals and discernment as I hope to work in pediatric health care in underprivileged communities abroad.

Business for Health Solutions


Linnea Rothi
Major: Neuroscience, Biology
I look forward to directly interacting with the community in which I'll work and learning from them about their needs and their lives through action research. This approach ensures that we listen to and learn about the community's needs instead of simply assuming we know what their needs are and how to best meet them. I am excited to create a sustainable solution and long-lasting impact together in an effort to make real social change.
Amber Persson
Major: Biochemistry
I have always been interested in global equity, health, and women's empowerment. I believe social enterprises are the future of enacting real change in a way that is sustainable and ethical. The most exciting part about this fellowship for me is that I would have a part in creating solutions with global partners as they see fit and could actually see working.

Gham Power


Margaret Walter
Major: Marketing, Art History
Growing up in San Francisco, I was exposed from a very young age to the homeless crisis in my city. Despite seeing homeless people on a regular basis my entire life, I have not become numb to it. It is hard to believe that such poverty exists anywhere, but especially in a city with as much extreme wealth as San Francisco. Positive change is desperately needed to combat poverty and I would very much like to contribute to this change.
Morgan Billington
Major: Environmental Studies, Economics
Impactful change via social entrepreneurship is something that resonates deeply with me. I believe that I have a healthy skepticism about the world surrounding me, and because of this, I am able to recognize where opportunities for growth exist and where change can be initiated. This, to me, is what characterizes the mindset of an entrepreneur. I am eager to create meaningful solutions to current social and environmental problems.

Innovation Works


Kailyn Pedersen
Major: Political Science
I am confident that the Miller Center Lewis Family Fellowship is an important step in my personal and professional growth. I plan to work in law and policy, specializing in gender violence and racial equity. I want to advocate for survivors of sexual assault, especially underrepresented groups, such as women of color. In order to better serve these communities, I need to have a deep understanding of the systems that oppress minorities both in the United States and in an international context.
Calley Lwin
Major: Political Science, Spanish
Action research and entrepreneurship are incredible ways to promote global development with long term solutions. Instead of reading about situations and suggesting solutions from a distance, you must work together with local experts and workers to truly understand what is needed and develop solutions. I am passionate about global development and know I want to work in this field.

Nurture Africa


Sydney Kaplan
Major: Political Science
My interest in public policy has greatly increased recently with the realization that oftentimes a conflict exists between policy makers and those involved in day to day service. Learning and participating in action research will help me to understand the relationship between policy makers and field volunteers, something I hope to carry with me as I continue to study political science and public policy.
Grace Leete
Major: Sociology, Child Studies
I wish to participate in the Miller Center Lewis Family Fellowship because it would allow me to define, explore, and cultivate the skills I need to begin a social-based career... being able to create connections and relationships with others that are motivated by positive change. This fellowship will guide me in discovering the ways that social entrepreneurship can help me move forward.


East Africa/South Asia

Li, Judi - Edited
Judith (Zhuyu) Li
Major: Sociology, Economics
I am passionate about applying what I am learning about social entrepreneurship, design thinking to solve real-world problems. Deep in my mind, I believe everyone has the ability to change the world toward a better place, no matter big or small. I want to help the social enterprises achieve their social mission and grow their social impact in ways that also help me grow as a changemaker.
Casey, Riley
Riley Casey
Major: Marketing
Working with a social enterprise is a mutually beneficial experience. I am particularly passionate about sustainability and would love to apply my knowledge of sustainability to give back to communities. I am especially interested in the Solageo project concerning safe water access because clean water is something I acknowledge everyday that others often take for granted.

Someone Somewhere


Lilly Evans-Riera
Major: Public Health, Political Science
As a young person, I want to understand how I can most empathetically and effectively contribute to the betterment of the world around me. Social enterprises create business and economic opportunities that can be tailored to the needs of marginalized communities in ways policy action cannot.
Alexis Gomez
Major: Political Science, Spanish Studies
My innermost desire is to help mitigate suffering for communities who have been manipulated into positions of poverty and violence by purposefully oppressive power systems. I believe the people directly experiencing these issues are the best experts on these matters and should be trusted to visualize their own ideas for progress.