Northwestern Students Accepted into Clinton Global Initiative University Program
In this academic year, nine Northwestern University students will participate in a year-round curriculum including an international conference as a part of the 12th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) program. After a rigorous selection process, approximately 700 students from over 100 countries and 280 institutions of higher education were selected to join the CGI U class of 2020.
Accepted participants from Northwestern include: Saif Bhatti, Hannah Caplan, Amy Drake, Giovanni Gamalong, Simone Laszuk, Ahlaam Moledina, Allison O’Donnell, Nicole Tanda, and Mariel Tang.
CGI U aims to empower and support the next generation of leaders on college campuses across the world through a wide range of resources, expertise, and mentorship. In addition to providing the Class of 2020 with a Commitment to Action Curriculum, CGI U’s newly expanded leadership development program will provide high-touch mentorship opportunities, including opportunities for partnerships and additional engagement opportunities, as well as access to additional funding streams.
Students must work individually or in teams to create “Commitments to Action” (CTA), which are new, specific, and measurable initiatives that address global challenges with the intent of creating a positive and effective social impact. The challenges discussed by CGI U commitments address one or more of CGI U’s five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. To further develop and launch these commitments, students also gain the opportunity to attend skill-building workshops and meet with mentors, future investors, and professionals in related fields. In April, students will attend a 3-day conference at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland. The conference will be hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to help students create action in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. Participants from Northwestern and other higher-education institutions around the world will be joined by commitment-makers, alumni, university representatives, experts, and high-profile individuals to foster student-led actions that address social and environmental issues.
The Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) supports student teams in their efforts to create and implement CTAs. ISEN’s Resnick Family Social Impact Program, which supports student projects that address local and global issues in the areas of energy and sustainability, provides project and travel assistance for Northwestern CGI U participants.
The Northwestern participants represent more than 10 university academic programs. Their individual and team CGI U projects, as well as summaries of their CTAs follow.
CGI U Participant:
Allison O’Donnell, doctoral candidate, mechanical engineering, Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Commitment summary: In 2019, Ally O’Donnell began working with Dr. Kyoo-Chul Kenneth Park, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern, to develop a self-cleaning coating for solar panels to mitigate surface fouling for solar farms in arid environments. She will create a surface coating that rapidly sheds contaminants when coupled with water. Increasing the efficiency of solar panels will enable a more economic and widespread use of solar energy across the planet. She will partner with institutions at Northwestern University, in Israel and South Korea to access strategic partners, perform laboratory experiments, and field test the coatings. She expects to decrease the effects of surface fouling on solar panels by 85% and therefore increase the viability of solar energy both for local communities and as a global energy source.
CGI U Participant:
Giovanni Gamalong, chemistry major and global health major in the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
In 2019, Giovanni Gamalong committed to enhance access to selective Chicago Public Schools for low-income, first-generation middle school students living in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. Giovanni will create a college mentoring program pairing undergraduate students with middle school students in a one-to-one relationship. Giovanni will partner with a non-profit, Supplies for Dreams, which has chapters at Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Chicago. These chapters will help pick and train college mentors to equip them with the sufficient knowledge to guide their mentees. Supplies for Dreams also has partnerships with middle schools across Chicago, where Giovanni’s commitment will initially be carried out. Giovanni expects to see 50% more students, from each school, apply to selective schools in the first year and 100% increase by the second year.
Bio-Acoustic Monitoring Technology Implementation in African Nature Preserves
CGI U Participant:
Saif Bhatti, industrial engineering major in McCormick, and philosophy minor in the Weinberg College.
In 2019, Saif Bhatti committed to tackle the poaching epidemic in African nature reserves through implementation of bio-acoustic monitoring technology. After a successful trial of the technology at a reserve outside Kruger National Park, he seeks to improve the hardware and software. He is partnering with conservation organizations in the US (The Nature Conservancy, National Parks Service) for local testing, and with hardware sponsors to improve elements of the technology and allowing it to scale effectively. He expects to conclude the data collection setup in 2019 and commence reporting incident data to rangers and stakeholders. A key aim of his project is to decrease poaching relative to historical measures and increase incident visibility across the entire reserve within 24 months. His mentors include Stephen Tarzia, assistant professor of instruction, Department of Computer Science at Northwestern; Nicholas Marchuk, senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern; and Martin Nieuwoudt, Director of Stellenbosch University Institute for Biomedical Engineering.
The Rainbow Project: Supporting Public Education
CGI U Participant:
Hannah Caplan, social policy major in the School of Education and Social Policy, and business institutions minor in Weinberg College.
The school success of disadvantaged children invariably decreases when essentials, like clean clothes, are not readily and consistently available. Thus, corporation-funded programs that provide products and/or services to underfunded, under-resourced schools in hopes of supplementing and satisfying unmet needs at home will help fight drop-out rates and support academic achievement. Uplifting public schools is critical for strengthening and creating opportunities for children who identify with lower socioeconomic status, encouraging the end to cyclical poverty, and reducing the socioeconomic gap. External partners will be the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the corporate partners in the journey to improving resources provided in CPS.
RISE: Reducing Inequalities in Sustainable Engagement
CGI U Participants:
Amy Drake, social policy major, School of Education and Social Policy; and certificate student in Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.
Ahlaam Moledina, journalism major, Medill.
Simone Laszuk, anthropology major and environmental policy and culture minor, both in the Weinberg College. Certificate in Sustainability and Energy from the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN).
RISE is a student-led initiative to empower local communities to make environmentally friendly choices. The program will provide workshops that address the inaccessibility of sustainable practices to low-income populations and will provide local young people with the necessary resources to make environmentally friendly choices, regardless of socio-economic status. RISE will partner with the Northwestern Institute for Sustainability and Energy to develop a curriculum that will increase the ability of low-income communities to reduce their environmental impact. The team hopes to expand to other US college campuses in the long run.
Decreasing Virtual Water Usage to Improve Campus Sustainability
CGI U Participants:
Nicole Tanda, neuroscience major in the Weinberg College.
Mariel Tang, philosophy major and global health major in the Weinberg College. Member of the research group of Sera Young, associate professor, Department of Anthropology at Northwestern.
Mariel Tang and Nicole Tanda committed to evaluating and decreasing virtual water usage on Northwestern University’s campus. Virtual water refers to the amount of water required to produce consumer products. The team will measure Northwestern’s annual virtual water footprint. Quantitative assessment will help them to consider the resource demands of institutional purchasing behaviors. In partnership with SustainNU, they will find alternative products and behaviors to decrease the campus’ water footprint beyond reductions made plausible by minimizing direct water usage. The group will then work with the Northwestern administration to implement these alternatives. Incorporating virtual water assessment and its resulting mitigation recommendations into Northwestern’s sustainability measures will strengthen the university’s dedication to environmental and ethical stewardship.