By Keely Savoie
Mount Holyoke sent eight students to the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), which took place March 6–8 at the University of Miami. CGIU is a means for students to move their ideas closer to implementation in five main areas—education, environmental and climate change, poverty alleviation, human rights and public health.
“CGIU brings together students, experts, and funders, and says, ‘We have these stubborn global challenges. How can we work together to find solutions?’ ” said Kirk Lange, director of international experiential learning at the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.
The students have been developing their "commitments to action" in Mount Holyoke’s new Social Innovation Lab, led by Elizabeth Long Lingo, an embedded practitioner in the Dean of Faculty Office, who accompanied the students to Florida.
“The Social Innovation Lab helps students develop their plans from a design-thinking approach to make them more effective and to ensure that their projects are sustainable long term,” said Lingo. ”Working in the lab, we help them define the scope of their projects and become even more effective as they seek to advance their ideas.”
Student projects had a worldwide scope. They included a weaving program in Rwanda, entrepreneurship training for disadvantaged young women in Boston, improving Kosovo-Serbia relations through integration and inclusion, and a "peace through literacy" library project in Kenya.
At CGIU, students gained inspiration from many amazing speakers,” said Lingo. “There were also many invaluable connections made, such people who offered to make connections and secure resources for their projects. And one of our students had an incredible meeting with Hans Rosling—a nationally recognized expert in using big data to address international public health concerns—who invited her personally to participate in his international research project.”
Of the more than 1,000 students around the globe to attend the conference, only a few are invited to present at the CGIU Exchange, an opportunity to interact directly with funders, experts, and innovators in leadership positions. Five of those selected for this opportunity were Mount Holyoke students.
Another three Mount Holyoke students were selected to present at the Resolution Venture Project, a separate, even more competitive event offering an opportunity to obtain $5,000 in funding and increased networking and mentoring opportunities.
“Mount Holyoke was not only well-represented in terms of the sheer number of students we sent, but in terms of their success as well,” said Lange. “CGIU is an important vehicle for students who are social entrepreneurs to develop their thinking in that area and to develop a framework for implementation. This is a vital part of our pathways to integrated learning.”
“I am so honored to mentor these students, who exemplify the Mount Holyoke spirit of leading change and solving problems both at home in their communities and around the globe,” said Lingo.
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