The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences


Building Living Bridges that Drive Positive Social Change

TED talks are timeless for their ability to inspire excitement for lifelong learning and create delight and wonder with ideas that have the power to change the world. In our second iteration of the TEDx conference at Dartmouth, we wanted to focus on how bold ideas can drive positive social impact and social change in the communities we belong to. Our inspiration for choosing the theme “living bridges” first came to us last summer, when we chanced upon photographs of root bridges in India. These living bridges are formed by local communities coming together in a social endeavor to guide the pliable roots of a tree across a river or stream and allowing them to strengthen and grow over time until they can support the weight of a human being. Perhaps what was most interesting to us about these bridges was that they are continuous works in progress as the roots grow and shift over time. As the Dartmouth community “honors our past and inspires our future” in its 250th year, this theme allowed us to highlight the bridges we have built and the bridges we have yet to build together in the years to come.

Lucía Caballero '19 Attends the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 

Attending American Association of Geographers (AAG) 2019 Annual Meeting was an extremely valuable experience. It gave me the opportunity to present my thesis research in front of some of my academic idols as well as engage with the discipline of Geography in an entirely new way. It happened at the perfect moment, when I was getting ready to finish my thesis but still had twenty pages to write and needed re-inspiration to power through the last few pages.

I got to discuss my research with a group of like-minded individuals who had valuable advice to give me and got me thinking in new ways. One of the Dartmouth professors on my thesis committee, Patricia Lopez, took me and my peer, Benny Adapon, who was also giving a talk on his thesis research, around the conference and introduced us to academics from all over the country. The entire Dartmouth faculty were extremely supportive and helpful throughout the entire process, and they all attended both mine and Benny's talks.

Sydney Towle '22 Helps Organize The Dartmouth Sustainability Summit

The Dartmouth Sustainability Summit brought together students from various colleges to discuss sustainability action on their campuses and sustainable practices in general. It also involved career panelists and speakers to further students' knowledge of sustainability beyond the college campus.

As a first-year student at Dartmouth, the experience of planning such a large- scale event, like the Sustainability Summit, was completely foreign to me. However, as the event itself is only a year old, everyone on the planning committee was still learning how to create a truly successful event. We all got to go through this learning process together and really iron out the details which cumulatively contributed to the event’s value and purpose.

Dartmouth's Annual Student-Run Hackathon: HackDartmouth

Dartmouth's annual student-run Hackathon is an on-campus event in which students form teams to create and develop innovative software and hardware projects. HackDartmouth attracts hundreds of the best hackers from the New England area as well as Canada and provides a 24-hour opportunity to showcase their talents.

HackDartmouth continues to grow its presence both on campus and in the New England area generally. This year represented an unprecedented level of engagement; we had teams travel from schools like McGill, MIT, Boston University, and New York University.

The event had close to 40 project submissions, ranging from applications focused on environmental sustainability to programmed Amazon Alexas that "rapped" their responses. The winner of the event was a team that developed "Hear: Podcasts Made Accessible," which translated podcasts to text and included options for additional reading and resources as the podcast played.

Shannon Sartain '21 Attends the Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium

Mini-Grant recipient, Shannon Sartain '21, shares her experience attending the Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium.

The Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium was a conference held at the University of Pennsylvania this spring. There, I presented my Earth Sciences research as a poster to a judge for my respective category. Assembling my poster allowed me to gather my work up until now into a coherent narrative—knowing I would have to present on my work forced me to take a step back and look at what my data were saying. Additionally, presenting for a judge was an entirely new experience for me, and at the symposium, I was able to practice communicating my work in an easy-to-understand way.

Karina Lopez​​​​​​​ '19 Attends the Scientista Conference

Mini-Grant recipient, Karina Lopez '19, shares her experience attending the Scientista Conference.

The Scientista Conference was founded in 2011 by two graduate students who identified a need in the scientific community for female scientists to organize, connect, and share resources for professional development. As a Latina studying Neuroscience, I had become accustomed to being one of few, if not the only, latinx woman in the classroom and laboratory. Additionally, I aim to increase our knowledge of the brain to improve mental health treatment and access to care.

Due to the limitations of the surrounding social environment, many psychology studies may not be so representative of more diverse groups of people. Having this in mind, I attended the conference to see how someone of my background can empower and support more diverse communities through scientific research.

Yihang Liu '19 Attends the Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference​​​​​​​.

Mini-Grant recipient, Yihang Liu '19, shares her experience attending the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Conference.

The Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Conference, one of the largest political science conferences in the country, was an amazing opportunity to learn what new research projects are being conducted around the world and to receive feedback for my own project. The conference featured many paper panels and poster session across a variety of topics, and I was able to listen in on presentations on perceptions of trade, public opinion, methodology in Asia, machine learning, and immigration attitudes. It was exciting to learn about topics that I was not very familiar with. In addition, since many scholars presented works in progress, it was a great opportunity for me to think critically about the projects and to ask questions and make suggestions. It felt like I was able to contribute somewhat to their research projects, and participating in a discussion with graduate students and professors really pushed me to think and analyze research projects at a high level.

Tuong Vi Nguyen '21 Collects Stories from Kachin people

Mini-Grant recipient, Tuong Vi Nguyen '21, shares her experience traveling to Myitkyina, Myanmar to collect stories from Kachin people.

Humans of Kachin serves as a platform for the stories of the Kachin community in order to raise awareness about this neglected part of the world. The Kachin people are an ethnic minority in Myanmar who are discriminated against and facing many challenges under the Myanmar military regime. 

This past spring, I traveled to Myitkyina, Myanmar to collect stories from Kachin people who have been directly impacted by the Myanmar social and political climate. The Civil War in Myanmar has been ongoing since 1948, and since 2011, there has been increasing military infiltration into Kachin villages. As a result, villagers from rural areas are forced to flee to the cities, where local churches and NGOs have been working to build camps for the refugees. 

The Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's First Annual Benefit Concert

The Xi Lambda chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. partnered with No More Names, an inter-Ivy League police reform advocacy and awareness group, to organize a benefit concert for Campaign Zero, a campaign that finds direct policy solutions for police reform in the United States. OVO's artist Roy Wood$ performed on February 15th and helped fundraise over $3,000 for the cause. Demi Stratmon '20, Mini-Grant recipient, shares her experience organizing the benefit concert. 

Social advocacy is in a new space and age. Attracting participation, engagement and support from busy college students is not easy, especially when targeting various communities in the student population. Our sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, understood this challenge and wanted to overcome every obstacle it would present to spread our cause.

Lucy Tantum '19 Presents at the Annual Consortium of Universities in Global Health Conference

Mini-Grant recipient, Lucy Tantum '19 shares her experience attending the annual Consortium of Universities in Global Health (CUGH) conference in Chicago, Illinois.

In March, I attended the annual Consortium of Universities in Global Health (CUGH) conference in Chicago to present a poster and learn about current topics in the global health field. This year’s CUGH conference had a theme of Translation and Implementation for Impact in Global Health. Conference attendees included students, researchers, policymakers, and other global health professionals. By attending conference sessions and meeting other conference attendees, I learned a great deal about the issues which are currently at the forefront of the global health field.


The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences