Students for a Better World: The Beyond the Classroom Blog

Stories, Resources, & More from the Beyond the Classroom (BTC) Program at University of Maryland

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Social Media for Social Change: Can Social Media Curb Childhood Obesity?

by Nora Strumpf, BTC Student

The power of social media should be embraced as a viable option to improve our nation’s childhood obesity epidemic.

 Childhood obesity is an epidemic that cannot be ignored. According to the American Psychological Association, “approximately 20% of our youth are now overweight with obesity rates in preschool age children increasing at an alarming speed.” Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that childhood obesity has made significant progress in the United States – however, this has been proven as premature upon a second analysis of the data.


Childhood obesity places youth at risk for having a multitude of health problems as adults, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and forms of cancer. Additionally, childhood obesity leads to poor self-esteem and depression. In recent times, we have seen childhood obesity worsen. Although first lady Michelle Obama has brought this issue to our attention and has shown excitement about progress, a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics has proven that childhood obesity rates have not actually improved (  This issue is certainly not one that our society isn’t aware of; numerous efforts have already been made to try and resolve this problem. Specifically, organizations such as the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) have been dedicated to educating the public about the dangers and prevalence of this issue. Recently, the OAC signed a nutrition agreement with the backing of hundreds of organizations, which sought to ensure that healthier foods would be sold in schools. However, the amendment did not pass.

Curbing the childhood obesity epidemic is a process that requires a multi-sectoral approach. Through the mobilization of nonprofit organizations, private sectors, governments and the civil society, a more comprehensive strategy to resolving this issue can be made. Continue reading


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Know What They Sow, Eat What They Grow

by Jenae Ramos, BTC Student

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Farmers Market

What exactly are we eating? Where did the food come from? How exactly was the produce treated? Unless we buy local and organic, we may not be entirely sure. So for those who prefer a life that’s fresh like natural produce instead of a life like overrated chocolate, farmers markets and local produce are a safer bet than the typical grocery store. We know the apples haven’t fallen from a tree thousands of miles away, and the eggs came from happy chickens that roam free. Continue reading

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April 21-26 is BTC’s “Week of Student Leadership and Civic Action for a Better World”

In 2013, BTC students participated in the Forward On Climate Rally in Washington, D.C.

In 2013, BTC students participated in the Forward On Climate Rally in Washington, D.C.

Join Beyond the Classroom Living & Learning Program for:

“The Week of Student Leadership and Civic Action for a Better World”!

From April 21 to 26, 2014, BTC is proud to sponsor a series of student-led events and documentary screenings on:

  • Climate change
  • Sexual assault prevention
  • Environmental contamination
  • Healthy food choices
  • Human rights
  • And other social justice issues…!

Events will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park; all events are free and open to the University of Maryland community.  Here’s the full line up (click on the event names for each event’s Facebook page to learn more!): Continue reading

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“Don’t let it just be a passion!” – BTC Class of 2014: Hermela Hailemeskel

Passionate about making the world a better place?

“Don’t let it be just a passion! Stand up and do something about it.”

— Graduating University of Maryland senior and Beyond the Classroom student Hermela Hailemeskel on how students can help end global poverty and hunger, and on what she learned through her experiences as an intern at Bread for the World and as a member of Beyond the Classroom.

Read more about Hermela’s internship at Bread for the World in her blog post from last spring: “A Semester of Discovery at Bread for the World.”

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Student campaign “TerpLift” issues manifesto to end culture of sexual violence

TerpLift Manifesto

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and University of Maryland students enrolled in Beyond the Classroom capstone course UNIV 389T “Social Media for Social Change” are actively working to empower students and to end the culture of sexual violence.

Beyond the Classroom urges university students everywhere to join the fight to end sexual violence and relationship abuse by creating and supporting student-led campaigns such as TerpLift (FacebookTwitter).  If you are in the Maryland region, please join Beyond the Classroom and TerpLift members this Tuesday, April 15th at 5:30PM for UMD CARE to Stop Violence’s Survivor Garden event, held immediately prior to Take Back the Night.  Beyond the Classroom is a proud co-sponsor of this year’s Survivor Garden.

To do our part to help sound an urgent call for cultural change, here is the official TerpLift Manifesto, courtesy of TerpLift.  Please share widely.

The TerpLift Manifesto:

“We as Terps oppose relationship abuse and sexual assault. We acknowledge that these issues should be addressed at both a national and campus level. We acknowledge that no normal person is comfortable talking about abuse and assault and that this discomfort is rooted in our compassion for others. While the discomfort of talking about these issues remains, we as Terps choose to uplift others by inspiring, supporting, and educating victims, peers, and loved ones. Continue reading

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Social Media for Social Change: “Onkalo, The World’s First Permanent Nuclear Waste Repository”

by BTC Student Kevin Lalama

How do you permanently hide something that can’t be destroyed?

Do you send it on a rocket to the sun?

Do you drop it in the deepest ocean?

If you decide to bury it, how can you ensure no one ever tries to uncover it? Are you confident it will stay hidden it for 1,000 years? What about 100,000 years? How do you tell future civilizations to leave it alone? Will they listen?

These are a few of the questions and challenges facing Finnish and Swedish Nuclear Authorities as they construct the world’s first permanent nuclear waste repository, Onkalo.

Continue reading