Some 700 students from around the globe will convene on the Vanderbilt University campus March 3–5 for Clinton Global Initiative University. The 2023 event will feature internationally prominent speakers, panel discussions, pitch competitions, networking opportunities and a day of service for attendees.
Among the participants are 136 Vanderbilt students representing seven of the university’s schools, including the College of Arts and Science, Peabody College of education and human development, School of Engineering, Graduate School, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Owen Graduate School of Management.
A cornerstone of the gathering will be opportunities for the students to further develop their Commitment to Action projects. As part of the application process for CGI U, students submitted a Commitment to Action—a measurable plan to address a specific problem in their local communities or around the world. Each Commitment to Action is designed to focus on at least one of the following areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.
At the March 3–5 event, the students will network with fellow participants with similar projects and gain access to topic experts, CGI U alumni and mentors as well as funding streams. CGI U’s programming includes a 10-month social impact curriculum focused on the development of early-stage ideas into scalable projects. The curriculum is organized into three modules—connection and collaboration, practical skills and enhancements, and sustaining momentum—and designed to help students grow and transform their projects in the months beyond the annual meeting.
Some of Vanderbilt’s participating students and their Commitment to Action projects include:
- Noah Ford, Amaris-Lynn Joubert and Induja Kumar, members of the Class of 2024, whose “Labs Behind Bars” project aims to create Vanderbilt student-designed STEM labs that can be used for continuing education in Nashville prisons and later generalized for use in higher education in prison programs nationwide.
- Lena Khanolkar and Sunaya Krishnapura, second-year School of Medicine students, whose “Increasing Sustainability at Vanderbilt University Medical Center” project aims to reduce non-hazardous waste at VUMC by increasing the recycling of plastics, enhancing composting efforts and donating unused food to local nonprofits.
- Zara Parekh, a master’s student at Peabody College, whose “Professional Development for Educators in India to Serve Students with Learning Disabilities” project aims to provide professional development and ongoing coaching for general educators in India to better serve K-5 students with learning disabilities in Mumbai’s public schools.
- Tommy Pennington, Kathryn Tam and Anders Westermann, members of the Class of 2025, whose “Vanderbilt Fusion Project” aims to democratize access to cutting-edge sustainable energy research by building an open-source, low-cost miniaturized nuclear fusion reactor powered by clean hydrogen and electric fields.
- Ethan Thorpe, a member of the Class of 2024, whose “Pre-empting a Crisis: Legislation to Prevent the Greatest Humanitarian Threat of the 21st Century” project aims to write draft legislation that state and local legislatures can adopt to ensure safe, swift and simple practices for assisting people forced from their homes by climate change.
The Vanderbilt students will be joined by hundreds of participants from international universities, including the following:
- Akanksha Dasmohapatra, from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani in India, whose “Accessible Labs” project aims to redesign science labs and educational materials in India to make them accessible to students who are blind, enabling them to pursue STEM education beyond middle school.
- Camilla Della Giovampaola, from Geneva Graduate Institute in Switzerland, whose “Digitalizing Philanthropy for Youth Empowerment” project aims to create a digital map of Dubai-based philanthropic foundations and resources addressing Arab youths’ unequal access to quality education.
- Ines De Chance Iradukunda, from African Leadership University in Rwanda, whose “EcoCook Project” aims to reduce the number of low-income families using wood and charcoal as their primary cooking fuel, which causes more than 2 million premature deaths each year primarily from respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, in favor of inexpensive clean-energy sources.
- Oscar Rivas, from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico, whose “Social Hope” project aims to connect high-crime urban areas with culture, art and entrepreneurship through social interventions.
With the 2023 student cohort, CGI U marks 15 years of empowering students to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our world. Since its inception, the program has brought together more than 11,800 students from more than 160 countries and all 50 states, who have been awarded more than $4.5 million in funding through the CGI University Network.