Wednesday, August 10, 2022

This spring, two University of Iowa graduates – Amna Haider ’22 and Austin Wu ’21 – were awarded Humanity in Action (HIA) Fellowships along with twenty-six other US fellows.

As members of the 90-person international cohort, Amna and Austin explored issues of democracy, pluralism, human rights, and social justice in the context of their location. This included a month of immersive virtual study in June where they were challenged to understand their city or context’s unique history of injustice, its present struggles to encompass groups with minoritized cultures and identities, and the future of its democratic values. Following the initial immersive program, fellows spend the next eleven months working on their Action Project, an independent venture focused on promoting democratic values in their own communities.

This highly selective international program builds cohorts of roughly twenty-two college students and recent graduates. Fellows come from diverse backgrounds – academia, the arts, activism – but share common values. Humanity in Action looks for collaborative, passionate and open people who are willing to examine and challenge their personal preconceptions and biases.

Young, brown-haired woman smiling with fall leaves behind her.

Amna Haider

Home City: Crater Lake, IA
Fellowship Focus: Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina

Amna graduated with honors from the University of Iowa in May 2022 with degrees in International Relations and Philosophy, as well as a Certificate in Human Rights. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Amna is a Midwesterner at heart who always shows up for conversations about peace-building and international education. In addition to serving as an Honors Writing Fellow and launching the program’s first Diversity Council, Amna interned with the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council and served on the University Lecture Committee to help bring international experts and advocates to our campus community. After several COVID-19 cancellations, she also led the reboot of one of the University of Iowa’s largest events, the Walk it Out: Multicultural Fashion Show. Off campus, Amna worked with her local refugee resettlement agency and interned for the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, the Enabling Peace in Iraq Center. In her free time, Amna likes to check out cultural events in her community, meet new people, and frolic under the sun with her friends and family.

Learn more about Amna’s experience at the University of Iowa in this great Q&A from International Programs.

Young, asian man smiling

Austin Wu

Home City: Cedar Rapids, IA
Fellowship Focus: Mapping Inequities

Austin Wu, a 2022 Mapping Inequities Fellow, studied public health, history and political science at the University of Iowa, graduating with a Masters of Public Health in the spring of 2021. Wu’s intellectual and professional interests are far-reaching and include health policy, governance, local history, and urban design. He has researched institutional, political, organizational, and governance factors impacting governments’ response to pandemics as a research assistant with the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health, and as a columnist for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, has extensively written about local history and urban design, especially in how taking cues from historic forms of vernacular development can be a pathway towards deceased automobile dependence and more sustainable, healthier ways of urban living. In the past, he has also served as an at-large commissioner on the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission. In his free time, Austin is into bicycling, folk music, and breakfast food.

This was Austin’s second experience with the Humanity in Action community. He was also a part of the 2020 Warsaw cohort along with fellow Iowa graduates, John Lyons ’21 and Caroline Garske ’18. 

Learn more about Austin’s recent research on public health responses to COVID-19 in British Columbia.

The Office of Scholar Development manages the Humanity in Action Fellowship process at Iowa and encourages students to schedule a conversation as soon as they are aware of their interest in the fellowship.  While the HIA competition open date has varied in recent years, we recommend connecting with OSD in late October or early November.

The University of Iowa has supported eleven HIA Fellows since its inception in 1997.

Amna Haider, 2022     Austin Wu, 2022, 2020

John Lyons, 2020        Caroline Garske, 2020

Josh Nelson, 2011      Molly Spellman, 2006

Alicia Sutton, 2006     Josephine Ngo, 2004

Jesse Elliot, 2003       Nicole Kirkwood, 2001

Chad Doobay, 2000