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 entrepreneurs on the front lines of poverty eradication and sustainable development in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The fellowship is a fully-funded summer field experience along with two-quarters of classwork and academic research for Santa Clara University junior-level students.

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


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


Warc Africa


To get subsistence farmers in Africa out of poverty


Someone Somewhere


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


Lakefarms & Fishing Lodge Limited


Develop the promising fishing industry in the Gwembe Valley and create opportunities for women and youth empowerment.




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




Bringing digital innovation to small & mid-size farmers for inclusive & climate-smart agricultural value chains


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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.

Access Afya


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Ryan Benavente
Major: Neuroscience, Biology
“Intellect is an incredible gift, but it is worthless unless it is used to drive action… Action research encompasses this motif and provides the opportunity to create permanent change that can leave a tremendous impact."
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Nicole Boardman
Major: Biology
“My love for travel and learning about different cultures has instilled in me a fascination with using a global perspective to analyze and solve problems. With this fellowship, I would like my work with the social enterprise to be a culturally enriching experience as well as a chance to build my technical and interpersonal skills so that I may continue to develop my insight about the world outside of my own community.”

Development In Gardening


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Camryn Fischer
Major: Marketing
“Being proximate to social justice issues has allowed me to get uncomfortable with the beliefs I hold and work toward understanding people through our common human experience. I would like to be a Miller Center Fellow so that I can turn these truths that I have learned… into action that causes social impact. For me, action research is a way to use my passions, in conjunction with my education and skills, to work toward social change.”
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Maggie Menendez
Major: Individual Studies, Art History
“I love how purpose driven this model of research is and I appreciate the emphasis placed on true collaboration. I hope that my future career will include cross-cultural collaborations and being a Fellow would provide me with critical experience in doing just that. Plus, as someone who would like to work for an arts organization with a social mission, I’d like to better understand how a for-profit organization can maximize impact in their community… By giving me a stronger backbone in all things social enterprise, Miller Center Fellowship would help me discern what my future career on the administrative side of art for social change would look like.”

Emerging Farmers Institute


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William Gagan
Major: Environmental Science, Religious Studies
“I am interested in the fellowship because it focuses on people and human dignity as solutions to the social problems we face. I see the action research that the Miller Center does through the fellowship to be an important element of bottom-up development. I am particularly drawn to the consultancy model of the fellowship because I think it situates students to be conscious amidst dynamics of power, privilege, and White Saviorism.”
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William Mockapetris
Major: Political Science
“I have always wanted to participate in a program aimed at the eradication of poverty and the promotion of social entrepreneurship, and I hope that the Miller Center Fellowship will be my opportunity to engage in such an endeavor.”

Innovation Works


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Hannah Miller
Major: Communication
“As a Miller Center Fellow I am eager to connect and collaborate with social enterprises in a mutually beneficial partnership, where I can work together with other entrepreneurs to discern how creation is at the forefront of growth… I am most inspired when I am meeting people, contributing, critically thinking, and growing with them. At the core of this fellowship is a movement towards positive creation for both the student and social enterprise; I want to be the entrepreneur that chooses the risk of creation for the hope of social change.”
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Nathaniel Gilmore
Major: Psychology, Communication
“The opportunity to participate in the Miller Center Fellowship would allow me to start down the path of using filmmaking to tell the stories that need to be heard and focus on actual active change and the truth of the world and its story.” - Nathaniel Gilmore
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Ángel Macias
Major: Political Science, Ethnic Studies
“My eagerness to participate in the Miller Center Fellowship is rooted in my passions for social justice and creating solutions to overcome systemic barriers… I am interested in the participatory aspect because of the privilege to enter a community to listen and learn from the experiences of community members. This is a crucial aspect of action-based research as it allows me to understand how I can best support the community and amplify their voices.”



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Caitlin Toth
Major: Biology, Spanish
“I see this fellowship as a crucial opportunity to have a unique value exchange with a social enterprise, use my current skills and degree background, and develop my leadership through mentorship and practical experience. Combined, these are all elements that enable me to see change in myself and make a positive difference in the world around me.”



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Nicholas Roland
Major: Finance
“Taking part in the Miller Center Fellowship would be one of the first times that I will be directly involved with creating a lasting, structural change by working with organizations within the community. Learning as a member of a team, understanding what it takes to facilitate the creation of structural change in a community and what it takes to implement action research projects will prove to be an invaluable experience.”
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Sureena Mann
Major: Biology, Public Health
“I wish to engage in the Miller Center Fellowship due to the unique opportunity it provides as a framework for deeper understanding of the context in which a social enterprise operates and its fundamental structure of the ecosystem.”



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Emma Sand
Major: Economics
“Without personal observations of the consequences of the relevant policies, the affected individuals are reduced to data sets, causing the concepts I learn and study to remain unsatisfyingly abstract. This is why the idea of action research appeals to me. Through the Miller Center Fellowship, I could utilize my traditionally obtained knowledge to help others while simultaneously expanding my understanding of the subjects I’m passionate about”
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Catherine Ralph
Major: Economics, Political Science
“Working in a social entrepreneurship space with individuals who think differently from myself will enhance my cross-cultural understanding and communication so that I can help people within communities different from my own.”

Sisters Blended Value Project

Eastern and Central Africa

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Brooke Rose
Major: Environmental Studies, Sociology
“I think the Miller Center Fellowship is such an intentionally crafted program that facilitates a mutual exchange between the fellows and their respective enterprise, allowing both groups to get something valuable out of the experience.”
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Molly Flood
Major: Sociology, Religious Studies
“I stand firm in the belief that all parts of society are inextricably joined together, and that priority should be given to every human's dignity and well-being… The fellowship's action research component is appealing to me because it creates systematic change rooted in problem-solving.”