17 October 2018

Western University encourages students to take action on global issues and challenges

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), as part of its outreach efforts about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, shares this story submitted by Western University, a UNAI member institution located in Canada, about an initiative in line with the UNAI principle on sustainability.

17 October 2018 - Western University (Canada), a member institution of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), has been organizing during the past few years the World’s Challenge Challenge, an event aimed to engage university students in the discussion and debate about world issues, and to bring ideas from many different perspectives to the table. This institution of higher education strives to bring together individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community: to create global citizens who think creatively, and critically, about significant issues that affect us all. 

In 2018/2019, 20 institutions from across Canada and around the world will participate, encouraging dozens of student teams to present unique ideas to a panel of academic and community leaders at their home institution. The competition helps students develop their academic, oral presentation, and entrepreneurial skills, all while encouraging them to take action on global issues and challenges. Each participant university or college first holds an initial Challenge Round through which teams are selected as finalists. The top teams then compete to be selected to represent their university in the Global Final, vying for a top prize.

The intention for prize money is to help further develop the proposed solution and support implementation. Teams from eight countries (Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States) were represented in the 2018 World’s Challenge Challenge. The 2019 competition will also welcome teams from the United Kingdom and Germany. The mission of the competition is to bring together students from a wide range of institutions, cultures and continents to form a strong international network and create even greater potential solutions to significant global issues.

Furthermore, it allows students to not only learn more about a global issue or problem of interest but also to make global connections with others who have a passion for changing the world. “We are re proud to be a university that celebrates the ways international collaboration can change our futures for the better”, says Julie McMullin, Vice Provost (International) for Western University. “Big challenges need bold solutions and we believe that bringing some of the world’s brightest minds together to embrace a global vision is the key to addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time”, she notes.

The 2018 edition of the World's Challenge Challenge, held in June, was won by a team of students from the University of Otago (New Zealand). Their idea: E-Hop: The Future of Electric Vehicle Charging, was built on the link between climate change and electric cars and introduced a new model for car chargers, which would be available for rent like vacation homes listed on hospitality networks. In 2017, a team from Dalhousie University (Canada) won for their idea for mobile 3D-printing of prosthetics in remote rural populations, particularly in Uganda.