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IACT: Creativity for Tomorrow

Could zines be the future of student connectivity?

By Logan Zinkhon '19

Whether you’re aiming to deepen an emotional connection with your brand like Kanye West, or trying to shift the culture you live in like the 1990’s Riot Grrrl movement, zine’s have proven to be an effective medium in reaching a larger audience at little to no cost. But what exactly is a zine (pronounced “zeen”), and how is it supposed to connect students?

A zine can be classified as small-circulation, self-published works of original texts and images which often depart from mainstream publications or ideas. short, easily digestible booklet motivated by the author’s desire to express their opinions or share a unique story within a topic. Although zines were originally created to share handmade spinoff stories of popular sci-fi narratives, zines today range from stories and artistic portfolios, to DIYs and ‘how to’ guides. I first heard about zines during the summer of 2018 when the other Collaboration Accelerator students and I were diving into a question presented to us by the University of Dayton’s First Year Coordinating Team. The curiosity at hand was, “What role should first year experiences play in helping students to transition effectively from high school to college?” We struggled to decide on how we might tackle this challenge, and couldn’t find an appropriate medium to communicate with incoming students while also empowering them to offer their own insights and experiences. That was when the executive director of IACT, Brian LaDuca, helped us discover our first major a-ha! within this challenge question. He gathered us for a team meeting and posed the question, “Have you all ever heard of a zine before?”

By the end of the summer we had published 7 editions under a working title of The Labyrinth Series, a sequence of zines written by students for students with the potential to help our campus community navigate the various first experiences they may run into throughout their undergraduate career. I was happy with the progress we made on the series during the summer, but as my senior year progressed the work from the summer got lost. It wasn’t until ACT IV, my final class in my IACT certificate program, that I realized The Labyrinth Series had never been fully implemented. The mission of the series aligned with my own drive to empower people, and the thought of continuing to develop the zines sparked excitement within me. After a conversation with my ACT IV collision group, we decided this would be our certificate deliverable.

We started our process by evaluating the zines created during the summer. We knew we wanted our audience to be undergraduate students facing obstacles to success, but we didn’t know the specific obstacles we wanted to help them overcome, or how we would advise a diverse student population. As we looked to the existing zines for guidance, we realized a key component of this project is that each edition is written by students for students. All students have unfulfilled needs on campus, and all students have expertise in different areas of their life they can offer to others. We shared this insight with the other ACT IV students, and the feedback we received confirmed that “advice from upperclassmen is like gold when you first arrive on campus. It’s easier to trust another student because you know they’ve been where you are.” With this in mind, we began to shift our attention to how we could create a sustainable network of zine designers.

This new pivot fits perfectly in the drive model my team created last semester. By empowering existing student groups on campus to offer their own experience and expertise to overcoming obstacles students may be facing, we are reaching our goal of assisting undergraduate students to better understand themselves so they can be in a better position to take charge of their life. Each zine outlines a human-to-human conversation opportunity the reader can take advantage of if they decide they want to know more about the organization that authored the zine, as well as on-campus resources. One of our field test associates, or FTA, is a perfect example of what this may look like. The Peers Advocating for Violence Education (PAVE) have incorporated individual PAVE testimonies, campus resources, and PAVE specific resources in their zine on the importance of practicing self-care. This gives the reader the option to speak directly to a PAVE through the group’s PAVE Chat option, or the reader may elect to speak to a close friend or counselor by following the advice outlined in the zine on how to start an intentional conversation about self-care. My team and I feel this is the most important ingredient to The Labyrinth Series because we know students thrive when they feel they are connected to the community they live in.

As I reflect on the legacy I will leave behind when I graduate, I feel thankful for the experiences UD has offered me. When I initially transferred to UD, I felt the campus community around me but I didn’t feel like I was a part of it. After 3 years of getting to know other students and becoming more involved on campus, I am happy to announce that this is definitely where I belong. In creating The Labyrinth Series, my largest ambition is that these zines can help pave the way for students to understand that they belong here too.

At the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT), our vision is to create a mindset of possibility that disrupts the world through 21st century citizenship. We believe in creative changemaking with a sustainable, humanity-centered focus that blends educational and vocational frameworks for self-determination and transdisciplinary transformation.

To see our prototypes in action, join us at the IACT Certificate Expo on Friday, May 3rd from 11:30a-1:30p in the White Box Lab at ArtStreet. 

IACT is home to the nation’s first undergraduate certificate in Applied Creativity for Transformation. Open to undergraduate students of any major, the certificate is a first step in achieving the University of Dayton’s vision of innovation, applied creativity, entrepreneurship and community engagement for the common good. For more information about IACT at ArtStreet, call 937-229-5101 or visit

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