Think Tank Projects

Be part of the solution.

Sophomore year is an exciting time for Presidential Scholars. After a year of establishing connections in the first-year seminars, it's time to see how your cohort can work together to create change. Let's put all that leadership potential to good use!

The Approach

Throughout the second year, scholars participate in a two-semester course sequence that asks students to identify and analytically approach a problem or issue affecting the campus or community. During the fall semester Think Tank, teams of scholars research and analyze selected issues, propose solutions, examine implementation options and develop plans to be executed during Service Learning in the spring.  

The end product is usually very impressive, but the real focus is on the process. What kind of team organization is most efficient? How should I communicate with an off-campus professional? What is the best way to prioritize and make decisions? 

And big picture... will this effort make a meaningful impact on my community?

Past Think Tank Projects

Online Learning During COVID-19

The shift to online learning in 2020 had an array of adverse effects on students’ educational experiences. This team sought to learn about challenging aspects of online learning and to provide personalized support for struggling individuals. In partnership with UNI’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, the team created a survey and analyzed data about online learning experiences. In response to the findings, they designed and distributed learning resources to respondents.

Local Foods

This group, in conjunction with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, hosted a series of introductory gardening workshops for food bank patrons and the broader community. Master gardener Sheila Sartorius helped participants plan garden plots, make seed tapes, and repurpose household items like pop bottles for gardening. The project also included a “Give-a-Row” campaign with the Cedar Falls Public Library, where registered seed library participants pledged fresh produce donations to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank at the end of the growing season. Both projects aimed to increase the quantity of local produce grown and distributed to those who are food insecure in the Cedar Valley.

Campus/Community Safety

UNI’s sexual assault statistics cite alcohol as being a factor in around 80% of all reported sexual assaults. To heighten safety on and around campus, this team implemented active bystander training to College Hill businesses. Active bystander intervention training gives staff at bars and other establishments on College Hill the necessary tools to recognize signs of potential sexual assault to know what can be done to intervene. This project was done in collaboration with the College Hill Partnership and the Riverview Center.