I&E 290s: Innovating for Social Impact


Innovating for Social Impact is an interactive, project-based course that enabled students to explore the ever-evolving intersection between the public sector, private sector, and non-profit organizations in delivering needed services in the US and around the world. More importantly, for me, the class helped me understand the potential for utilizing storytelling as a way to create social change.

My Experience

I found Innovating for Social Impact by chance. I was in need of a fourth class for the semester and this one fell right on my lap. I was happily greeted by the professor, Dani Zapotoczny. Dani’s experience as a storyteller, having worked on films and at the United Nations Foundation, drew me in right away.

In class, we learned about various innovations and things that celebrities and corporations are doing to create a lasting impact on the world. With the climate crisis in full swing, I found this class to not only be insightful, but imperative to understanding how I could make a difference. For me, that is advocacy through storytelling.

Although the class was more aimed at utilizing innovation/social advocacy and engagement to enact change in policy, I utilized Dani’s experience in film to learn about how storytelling could be used to also create change in policy and the minds of the public. To do so, at the end of the semester I took Dani to lunch. There, I was able to pick her brain about the opportunities to create stories, fiction, and nonfiction, that transform the minds of individuals.

My key takeaway from that lunch, and the semester, is that in a world full of issues, each person can make a difference. And the way that difference is up to the individual. Therefore, my method to create change is different than others’ and that is okay.