Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and dean of Students Office recognized for changemaking

A new FIU undergraduate course on bystander invention has received a #MillionsofChangemakers Award from Ashoka U.

Faculty in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies collaborated with the dean of Students Office to create the academic course called Peer Leadership, Violence Prevention, and Social Change. Assistant Teaching Professor Vicki Burns and Program Coordinator Jacob Burns based the course’s design on a bystander intervention curriculum called Step UP! where enrolled students are prepared to educate fellow FIU students using a train-the-trainer model. In just its first semester, students in the course were able to reach 761 FIU students.

Step UP! is presented as a 60-minute program intended to ignite potential changemakers to make a difference on campus and within their communities. The curriculum demonstrates ways that students can recognize a potential problem and then provides them with hands-on intervention skills to support their fellow students in need.The instructors assisted students in modifying the curriculum to ensure issues related to power, oppression and privilege were highlighted. Vicki Burns and Jacob Burns initially planned to partner with six FIU departments and offices but ended up doubling that number and partnering in some way with 12 departments and offices. 

Before the course began, Ashoka U highlighted the FIU course as a part of their global #MillionsofChangemakers campaign. The #MillionsofChangemakers campaign acknowledges academic institutions and organizations who have made significant commitments to changemaking on their campus or within their organizations. With the COVID-19 pandemic, students need even more support regarding bystander intervention and help-seeking behaviors. Students who would like to get involved and faculty/staff who may want their students to be trained should email Vicki Burns at or Jacob Burns at