SolutionsU® is collaborating with students to create resources that illustrate how students are using solutions stories in their classes, research, service trips, student organizations, and everyday lives. You too can inform and infuse your own education with knowledge of what is working!
The stories that stand out the most to me are the ones about issues I knew little about. Solving these issues is so important; sometimes it seems hard to believe that someone hadn’t thought of the solution sooner.”
Serena says that solutions journalism stories and the Solutions Story Tracker are valuable resources for exploring opportunities in the social innovation sector, and in preparing for job interviews.
When she was getting ready for interviews with startup companies in Philadelphia, she used the Story Tracker to explore the city's social change landscape. By typing “Philadelphia” and “startups” into the Story Tracker, she was able to find and read stories about innovative solutions in the city. Later, she did the same thing to learn about innovations in New Orleans, Detroit and Baltimore. In this way, she says, she developed an image of each city's values and startup opportunities.
"Reading the stories gave me a really strong foundation for understanding what the startup world looks like in certain cities. As I was getting ready to interview in places that I didn’t really know that much about or hadn’t visited, the Story Tracker allowed me to learn something about each city's unique business culture.” You can read some of the stories she found in her "Scoping out the Philly Innovation Scene" collection.
It also helped her boost her confidence in the often intimidating process of landing that first job.
Today, she is a business associate at Launch Pad, a startup company that focuses on building strong communities and collaborations, and that supports individuals wanting to pursue careers as entrepreneurs.
In my generation, the trend is either ‘I don’t care about politics, I don’t care about the world, the systems are all broken’, or it’s ‘Our voices matter, we need to get involved’. The latter attitude is where change begins, and solutions journalism makes me feel like I am not alone in wanting to affect change that impacts the greater good.”
Aidan Noble-Goodman is pursuing a career in the health sector and is a former SolutionsU Story Fellow. She uses SolutionsU and solutions stories not only in her work as a fellow, but for class research, in her daily conversations, and to gain knowledge about the health sector.
As the former health story fellow, Aidan spent seven to ten hours each week reading stories, noting key themes, and creating collections based on those themes. "As soon as I see a theme in two stories, I'll start to create a collection," she says. The process continues until she has enough stories to create a full collection, typically with four to five stories.
Aidan says she uses the inspiration she gains from reading solutions journalism stories, and channels it into knowledge and action for the future. "I am someone who gets overwhelmed by social problems," she says, "and solutions stories show me the myriad of ways I can have an impact."
Reading stories also helps her stay up-to-date on the innovations and challenges in the healthcare field. She often shares this knowledge with others, whether that's sending stories to her friends, or talking to her neighbors.
Solutions journalism stories are aligned with how I want to view the world. They focus on what people are doing well, and on what’s working. Reading these stories puts me in the frame of mind to figure out what interests me most, and what interests other people. It makes me think about what else I can do to be a better learner.”
For Keri, maximizing her time is essential to balancing her personal and professional life, especially now that she is pursuing a master's degree in Urban Sustainability. One way she does this is with SolutionsU.
Each semester, students in her graduate program undertake a substantial research project, and each semester, they have the opportunity to select a new topic to work on. Keri says that the first place she turns for ideas and inspiration is SolutionsU. Stories in the Solutions Story Tracker provide her and her research partners with a broad view of a variety of different topics.
"We discuss the challenges and solutions presented in each story," she says, "and then pick the issue we want to focus on for the semester."
In addition to the Story Tracker, Keri says that SolutionsU story collections have been useful to her as a student. "The SolutionsU story fellows create collections of stories that are carefully and thoughtfully crafted, with in-depth summaries of what they've learned."
Users can find these collections through the collections search feature, or by browsing the SolutionsU Featured page. Users can also create their own collections. Keri says she often creates collections, not only for school, but also for personal growth.
The issues we covered in The Innovator are not unique to the Bronx, but by focusing on solutions, we were able to depict how this community is actively working to address challenging issues.”
Randy isn't majoring in journalism, and he doesn't consider himself a journalist. But he is passionate about social change and making a positive impact in his community. Those passions, combined with his writing and leadership skills, led him and a group of his peers to create The Innovator, a solutions journalism magazine written and designed by undergraduate students at Fordham University.
Each story in The Innovator is about a social change project in the Bronx, where Fordham University is located, and each one was researched and written by a Fordham University undergrad. Randy initially conceived of the idea in 2018 for a solutions-focused, student publication reporting on local community issues. He took his idea to the Fordham University Collaboratory, a university-wide network of students, alumni, and faculty working together to create social change. Four other students were interested in his idea, and they formed a club.
One of their first tasks, Randy says, was to learn how to do solutions journalism reporting. Randy studied the Solutions Journalism Network's online Basic Toolkit, and then put together a workshop to share what he had learned with his peers. They also attended an online webinar to enhance their learning.
"Only two of the six writers had written an article for a publication before," Randy says. The training provided the students with the tools to create real solutions journalism stories; that is, stories that focus on a response in meaningful detail; discuss the impact and results of the approach; and include insights that others can use. You can find these stories, and others written by students, in the Solutions Story Tracker.
The hardest thing for students like me is that we all like the idea of social innovation, social impact, and solving big problems, but we don’t necessarily have the resources to know who is doing what, what's working, and what doesn’t work. Solutions journalism stories can show us that.”
Representatives from SolutionsU came to the BYU campus in the fall of 2017 to deliver a series of workshops on the online teaching and learning platform. During the workshop, participants learned about the mission and purpose of the Solutions Journalism Network and SolutionsU, and then they broke into groups, each with a different story to read and discuss.
When the Ballard Center asked Lauren to create a workshop series for humanities students on how to leverage their knowledge and skills into a career in social change, Lauren tailored the SolutionsU workshop content and format to her audience of humanities students. For example, when the students signed up for the workshop, she asked them what issues they were most passionate about. She plugged that information into the Solutions Story Tracker -- solar energy and food waste were two of the issues -- and dozens of stories popped up in each field.
On the night of the workshop, the 50-plus students divided themselves into small groups and Lauren handed out the stories to the participants to read and discuss. They identified “the whole picture: the problem, the outputs and impacts,” she says. Then each group transformed these insights into actionable learning objectives.
The workshop, she says, was “wildly successful.” The students engaged with the material, and with each other, and they all learned about innovative solutions to problems they care about.
Collections are versatile, powerful and simple to create. From a customized course reader to an action-guide for an upcoming service-learning trip, collections illuminate themes, guide inquiry, and provide context for how people around the world are responding to social challenges.
Name and describe your collection
Add external links at any time
Add to your collection over time and share!
Add stories to your collection from your list of Favorites below, or add stories directly to a collection from Search or Discover. Anytime you see the collection icon you can add a story. Just click the icon and follow the instructions on your screen.
This is a powerful feature to provide context and additional information to enhance your collection. Add a link to a relevant website, and a short description about how the resource relates to your collection.
Our issue area taxonomy was adapted from the PCS Taxonomy with definitions by the Foundation Center, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International License.
Photos are licensed under Attribution Non Commercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license / Desaturated from original, and are credited to the following photographers:
Fondriest Environmental, David De Wit / Community Eye Health, Linda Steil / Herald Post, John Amis / UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences – OCCS, Andy B, Peter Garnhum, Thomas Hawk, 7ty9, Isriya Paireepairit, David Berger, UnLtd The Foundation For Social Entrepreneurs, Michael Dunne, Burak Kebapci, and Forrest Berkshire / U.S. Army Cadet Command public affairs
Photos are licensed under Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license, and are credited to the following photographers:
Photos are licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication Creative Commons license / Desaturated from original, and are credited to the following photographers:
Conference attendee listening to speaker, Jenifer Daniels / Colorstock getcolorstock.com.
Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sonia Narang