Global Information Engagement Program

The Global Information Engagement Program (GIEP) is an innovative approach to learning which partners non-profit, research, and educational organizations in an international setting with carefully selected student teams. This program seeks to operationalize the skills of professional master’s degree students at the University of Michigan to develop sustainable information management practices that have positive societal impact. Project teams from UMSI and university graduate programs spend a semester studying and creating plans for implementation of an identified information challenge that has high social impact value.

GIEP is returning in 2019 to Cape Town, South Africa. In GIEP, student teams leverage their emergent skills in content management and delivery, contextual inquiry, needs assessment, product ideation, consultation and a deep understanding of the complex relationships between people, information, and technology to address context-sensitive information challenges (management, access, design ICT-related) commonly faced by participating heritage and NGO organizations.

Hear more student stories on our Engaged Learning Blog.


For students

Where: Cape Town, South Africa

When: Students are selected for the program and matched to your project in February. Student teams and partner organizations will start virtually working together in March. In May, students will arrive in the host country for eight weeks of on-site work with their partner organization.

Eligibility: Graduate students from the University of Michigan are eligible to apply. Projects require a range of skill sets and knowledge; students from all programs are encouraged to participate and will have the opportunity to share novel experiences and expertise. Students selected for the program will work in multi-disciplinary groups of three to four.

The application deadline will be in late January and selected students will be required to accept the invite to participate in the program approximately two weeks later. Students submit an application via M-Compass.

Cost: There is no program fee and the School of Information covers lodging and select support for in-country travel and meals required for project success. If selected to participate, student will be expected to cover personal expenses such as personal travel, airfare, visa, passport and immunization costs, if necessary. (Scholarships are available.)

How to Apply: Students will be required to apply via MCompass by late January. A select group of students will be invited for an interview approximately a week later and invitations to participate will be issued the following week.

Students will be required to take part in a half semester weekly 3 hour class meeting that commences the week following spring break. Students will leave for South Africa the first week of May for 8 weeks.


For organizations

Where: Cape Town, South Africa

When: Students are selected for the program and matched to your project in February. Student teams and partner organizations will start working together virtually in March. In May, students will arrive in the host country for nine weeks’ on-site work at your organization.

Eligibility: Non-profit, governmental, and academic organizations in South Africa are invited to participate.

We seek project proposals from organizations who wish to engage in a collaborative partnership to develop and refine a project for student learning with a societal impact outcome. We seek projects in:

  • development of interactive web-based services
  • creation or organization of information repositories and archives
  • development of internal library systems
  • research and analysis on information policy topics
  • digital design projects
  • data analysis and informatics

Cost: GIEP is free for participating partners.  All students’ expenses including travel and stay in Cape Town are fully funded through school resources.

How to Apply: In order to be matched with a team of students, participating organizations must be able to provide the following:

  • A well-developed project proposal that clearly highlights an information challenge
  • A committed project leader at the organization who will work with students and provide resources and information to ensure project success
  • Remote consultation for initial project research and development from February to May
  • Workspace and project guidance for the students during their time in South Africa
  • To be submit a proposal for consideration, please contact program administrators by December 1 by emailing

Additional Information: 

Student engagement timeline: Students are selected for the program and matched to projects in February. Student teams and partner organizations will start working together virtually in March. In May, students will arrive in the host country for eight weeks’ on-site work at the partner organization.

Teams of two to four University of Michigan graduate students will be selected through a competitive process and assigned to work on a defined project. Each group will be advised by a faculty mentor at UMSI and guided by a point person in the partner organization in India supervising the progress on the project.

Student teams bring with them highly developed skills in needs assessment, application development, product design and a deep understanding of information management.

Commitment: In order to be matched with a team of students, participating organizations must be able to provide the following:

  • A well-developed project proposal that clearly highlights an information challenge
  • A committed project leader at the organization who will work with students and provide resources and information to ensure project success
  • Remote consultation for initial project research and development from February to May
  • Workspace and project guidance for the students during their time in South Africa

Contact: Interested partner organizations can indicate interest in hosting students by emailing These projects are technology or information management-related problems that, if solved, contribute to the better functioning of the organization itself and have broader applicability across society. Organizations are matched with a student team that has been selected based on interest, skill, and fit.


2018 Teams

Mayibuye Archives 
Enhancing Social Reach and Engagement with Liberation Struggle Archives
Caroline Schuitema, Lawrielle West, Kiah Williamson
The Mayibuye archives house important photos, documents and audiovisual materials from the apartheid era. Our team will work with staff members of the archives to develop a social media strategy. Based on our research and data collection, we will create Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts then launch the social media accounts on Youth Day, 16 June. This strategy will enable Mayibuye to expand its impact nationally, globally and within the archive community.

Project members: Lawrielle West, Caroline Schuitema, and Kiah Williamson (not pictured)

Haven Night Shelter
Adapting & Integrating the Client Registration System to Improve Capacity of Haven’s Services
Gwen Gell, Jonathan Overstreet, Lauren Sheridan, Rabia Syed
The Haven Night Shelter’s mission is to ensure that no one is forced to live on the streets to survive. As a continuation of last year’s GIEP project at the Haven Shelter, our team will integrate key information and metrics collected across three Client Registration Systems (CRS) holding upwards of 30,000 multi-part records. This project will assist Haven to develop its data-mining and analysis capabilities to derive a deeper evidence-based understanding of its clients’ demographics, needs, experiences with Haven, and more. The Haven intends to share this knowledge with funders, state actors, policy bodies and instruments, and the general public. Project staff will develop key reports and FAQ documentation on how to work with and query this data, then train staff to ensure data integrity and overcome challenges of “false” data.

Project members: Lauren Sheridan, Gwen Gell, Rabia Syed, and Jonathan Overstreet

St. Mark's Anglican Church, District Six
Reigniting Community: Building a Virtual Geo-locational Archives of Baptisms as a Pathway to Discover Personal, Community, and National Heritage
Jackson Huang, Madel Leal, Michelle Rubin
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, located in Cape Town’s historic District Six, is a new GIEP partner. District Six was previously a vibrant multi-ethnic community, whose residents were forcibly removed between 1968 and 1983 after it was re-zoned as ‘white’ under the Group Areas Act. The Church continues to serve this dispersed community and hopes to reconnect former residents with the history and heritage of their neighborhood through a mapping project using decades of baptismal records, which provide evidence for both the richness of old District Six and the atrocities of Apartheid. UMSI will partner with the Church, the local university (CPUT) and the District Six Museum to preserve these records, extract information such as names and addresses that make the materials easier to search, and recreate the neighborhood over time through mapping. We hope to complete a pilot project with a small portion of the records and host events to learn about the needs of community members so we can help them engage with the historical materials in a way that is useful and meaningful.

Project members: Michelle Rubin, Jackson Huang, and Madel Leal 

League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB)
Understanding, Documenting, and Communicating Impact to Enhance Service Delivery and Internal and Public Accountabilities
Marcus Hall, Megan Souders, Asha Shenoy Kudupi, Jennifer Gonzalez
League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) is a non-governmental organization that serves community members across the Western Cape province, supporting the needs of children, youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired. LOFOB has strategies and systems to track services and reach out to potential clients and donors. However, they want to streamline their tracking efforts to support their recent accreditation as a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) site. The team will build a compliance information system to ensure that LOFOB training academy is meeting SETA requirements. The team will also create and deliver resources to strengthen LOFOB’s traditional and online outreach strategies. This project will ensure the organization is reaching its audience in ways that reduce stigma around blindness and increase awareness regarding the value of LOFOB services.

Project members: Megan Souders, Asha Shenoy Kudupi, Jennifer Gonzalez, Marcus Hall

2018 Fellows 

Caroline Schuitema
Master of Science in Information
Project: Mayibuye Archives
Caroline Schuitema, MSI candidate, is studying libraries, technology, and the ways that the two can come together to improve people's experiences. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2015 and spent two years working at a telecommunications law firm and learning about how technology and policy influence the ways we learn and interact before coming to UMSI. Since starting grad school, she has been able to learn about different aspects of information work including reference librarianship, museum registrar work, and design thinking for libraries. She is excited to add her work in social media and engagement at the Mayibuye Archive to that list.


Lawrielle West
Master of Social Work
Project: Mayibuye Archives
Lawrielle West hails from the Westside of Detroit, Michigan. She has a BA in English, and studied Community Organizing within the SSW. Lawrielle’s passion for diversity, equity and inclusion permeates through her involvement with Black Youth Project 100, where she activates change through a Black Queer Feminist Lens. She hopes to continue to make an impact through reallocation of resources, direct action and transformative justice. Lawrielle has received awards, accolades and participated in speaking engagements, but the moments that resonate with her most are those where she was actively engaged with community members— working with underserved communities, youth, social justice, and leadership development.


Kiah Williamson
Master of Social Work
Project: Mayibuye Archives
Born and raised in Oak Park Illinois, Kiah Williamson, MSW Candidate, studied Social Policy, and Evaluation. Before coming to the School of Social Work, Kiah studied Sociology and Psychology at Fisk University. Kiah traveled to Tanzania, East Africa in the summer of 2017, where she helped with a social media campaign to obtain volunteers and interns for Child, Growth and Development; a non-profit organization dedicated to educating children and building schools in underserved areas. Kiah is interested in creating inclusive working environments where employees can thrive personally and professionally. 


Jonathan Overstreet
Master of Arts in Higher Education
Project: Haven Night Shelter
Jonathan Overstreet, from Dayton, Ohio, is a master’s student at the University of Michigan studying higher education. He works as the Student Outreach and Support Intern at the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning. Prior to this role, he worked for a non-profit organization called City Year, where he served as an Americorps member, tutor and mentor for elementary school students. At Michigan, he is involved in The Black Male Roundtable, Innovation in Action, and the Student Philanthropy and Community Corps. He plans to use his degree to improve education within low-socioeconomic communities like the one he grew up in.

Lauren Sheridan
Master of Science in Information
Project: Haven Night Shelter
Lauren Sheridan, MSI candidate and Ann Arbor native, studied Kinesiology as an undergraduate at Indiana University Bloomington. Next, she spent several years working in Chicago's IT industry, eventually taking an opportunity with the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering. She spent her first three years at the CFE as the Technology Acceleration Programs Manager focused on the NSF funded I-Corps™ program. As her role evolved, she took a vested interest in compiling data related to the CFE’s faculty, researcher and educational programs and activity. Lauren designs, develops, implements and manages the CRM database system to capture, report and analyze on all related activity.


Rabia Syed
Master of Social Work
Project: Haven Night Shelter
Rabia Syed is an MSW candidate, specializing in interpersonal practice with a focus on children and families. She aims to obtain her certification in the School Social Work and in Management of Human Services. She is interning at a youth homeless shelter in Washtenaw County, working to clean up their databases, fill and assess needs, and respond to crisis calls. She hopes to gain direct experience in schools, and would like to eventually work in education policy reform.


Gwen Gell
Master of Urban Planning
Project: Haven Night Shelter
Gwen Gell is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning Candidate. She is interested in the intersection between sustainable food systems, community development, and the built environment. She is working on a project involving collaborative participatory design, using a gaming platform to engage stakeholders in a deliberative placemaking process to address stormwater management, and a study assessing the impact of SNAP policy changes. Previous work includes developing and teaching supplemental STEM programming in Detroit Public Schools and working on food security issues at the grassroots level in Detroit. Gwen is thrilled to work with the Haven Night Shelter, contributing to the efficiency of the organization.


Jackson Huang
Master of Science in Information
Project: St. Mark’s Church, District Six
Jackson Huang is a first year master’s student at the University of Michigan School of Information. Their work focuses on the intersection of archives, technology and social justice. In particular, they are interested in re-thinking arrangement, description and meaning-making for the digitization and aggregation of archival materials to make archives more accessible to historically excluded and marginalized communities. Their skill set and perspective on information is informed by previous work in student and community organizing, art, and public benefit advocacy. They are excited to learn from St. Mark’s Church in District Six and develop their digital preservation, archival education and community engagement skills.


Michelle Rubin
Master of Public Policy, Master of Urban Planning
Project: St. Mark’s Church, District Six
Michelle Rubin is a graduating master’s student from the Ford School of Public Policy and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Her studies focus on Housing, Community and Economic Development. She is interested in neighborhood level planning and the politics of redevelopment in legacy cities. During her time in graduate school, she worked with the nonprofit Global Detroit and the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department on various neighborhood planning and community engagement initiatives. She also served as Project Coordinator of the Social Science Data Analysis Network at the Institute for Social Research, where she focused on analyzing and mapping demographic data. 


Madel Leal
Master of Social Work, Master of Science in Information
Project: St. Mark’s Church, District Six
Madel Leal is a second year MSW student studying community organizing and social systems. A California transplant, Madel will be starting a second master's degree in the School of Information this fall. Her previous work in Lima, Peru inspired her to continue to work on a global scale. She is partnering with the St. Mark's team in District Six in the hope of reigniting the community using information as a catalyst.


Megan Souders
Master of Public Policy
Project: League of the Friends of the Blind
Megan Souders, MPP candidate, completed her undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati. After graduation, Megan joined City Year Los Angeles as an AmeriCorps Member where she acted as a tutor and mentor to middle school students. This launched an 8 year career in various non-profit management roles focused on education and civic engagement. She is interested in social policy at the local level, and hopes to ensure communities have the right services and resources needed to thrive.


Jennifer Gonzalez
Master of Public Health
Project: League of the Friends of the Blind
Jennifer Gonzalez is a graduate from Texas A&M University where she completed her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and minored in Art, focusing on photography and graphic design. Jennifer is a Master’s student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, focusing on Health Behavior and Health Education, and her interests lie in health disparities, access to care and health informatics. She’s been actively involved in organizations that promote awareness on Latinx culture and issues that affect the Latinx community. Jennifer hopes to close gaps in health and education by using technology to design and promote effective interventions.


Asha Shenoy Kudupi
Master of Science in Information
Project: League of the Friends of the Blind
Asha Shenoy Kudupi is a User Experience Designer passionate about designing products with meaningful user experiences. With a background in Engineering and Design, she serves as an ideal collaborator in multi-disciplinary teams. She is currently a second year master’s candidate at the University of Michigan, studying Human Computer Interaction. Previously, Asha worked as a UX Developer at Hewlett Packard.


Marcus Hall
Master of Science in Information,Master of Public Policy
Project: League of the Friends of the Blind
After 4 years in Spain, Marcus Hall moved back to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in public policy (MPP) and information science (MSI) at the University of Michigan. Hall plans to pursue a career as an education specialist, working for an international education organization at the intersection of global development, education and technology. Long-term, he is interested in founding an organization dedicated to providing international and multilingual education to historically marginalized groups, either domestically or abroad. As a global education scholar, he advocates government policies and practices that push the U.S. education system to incorporate global thought and perspective, solving problems we share worldwide. 

Student stories

Image of 2016 GIEP participants on the beach in South Africa


To view videos of student project presentations and stories from previous years, please visit the UMSI GIEP YouTube channel.