The Urban Planet: Solutions for a Crowded World
For the first time in its history, the Earth now has more urban than rural residents. By 2030, the UN projects that the planet will have more than 5 billion city dwellers. From Sao Paolo to Shanghai, cities are increasingly the gateway to economic possibility for billions, but many exploding metropolitan regions around the world already struggle to provide basic levels of food, water, shelter, sanitation, and schooling to all of their residents. Few policymakers are fully aware of the long-term ramifications of a rapidly urbanizing planet. How can the transportation, health, education, and infrastructure crises that are already plaguing cities be addressed in a creative and effective manner? This panel will explore the innovative ways that students and universities can work to create sustainable and prosperous 21st century cities.
Building Resilient Societies: Education in Post-Disaster Contexts
Climate change and natural disasters can have a huge impact on education in both the developed and developing world. From Hurricane Katrina to the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan, such disasters require both immediate emergency response mechanisms and a broader rebuilding strategy focused on education and long-term infrastructure. They can even provide an opportunity to rebuild better, allowing for the infusion of innovation, new resources, and international attention to propel an education system forward. International organizations, country-level ministries, and NGOs are focusing on ways to use education to restore a sense of normalcy and also mitigate the future impact of environmental catastrophes. This panel will highlight innovative approaches to post-disaster education, focusing on how individuals in the global community have responded to the acute needs caused by recent natural disasters.
The Anatomy of a Building: Breaking Down Our Built Environment
Student Services Center
Buildings are stealth culprits of global warming, accounting for approximately 40 percent of energy use and carbon emissions in the United States. Every aspect of a building’s design is part of the equation that contributes to its environmental impact. Yet any single building can serve as a living example of the potential to demonstrate sustainable design and green jobs through efficiency retrofits, water conservation measures, photovoltaic panels, and even rooftop gardens. This panel will convene experts and students that have specific experience with planning and executing effective green building projects. By looking at a breakdown of the various opportunities for sustainability that any building presents, the panel will demonstrate tangible and practical actions to improve the whole organism of a building.
LGBT Rights in the U.S. and Beyond
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights have returned to the spotlight, as a rash of suicides and hate crimes have grabbed headlines around the world. While a sweeping shift in public opinion is occurring regarding gay rights, the LGBT community itself is often divided and conflicted regarding its highest priorities. On the domestic front, campaigns surrounding marriage rights and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military have been recently overshadowed by numerous tragedies on campus for the gay community. In Uganda, a controversial law was nearly passed that would make homosexual activity punishable by death. This panel will discuss key issues facing the LGBT community, the diverse political climates in which they operate, and effective strategies for organizing at the local, national, and international levels.
On the Edge: Poverty Along the US-Mexico Border
Roughly 14 million people live along the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico, and this population is expected to double by 2025. Poverty rates are high, education rates are low, and violence is escalating. Deteriorating security along the border is putting much of the hard work that has been done to address poverty in the region at risk. Many colinas, or border communities, lack basic necessities, including safe drinking water, electricity, and sewage systems. These hardships are compounded by the fact that many residents of the border region are migrants who must rely on temporary and transient work. This session will highlight efforts to improve economic opportunity for those on both sides of the border through participatory income generation and skill building programs, many of which are student-driven. Panelists will also address the ways in which the current security challenges are forcing organizations to reorient their work, and will share promising efforts that are addressing the unique needs of the poor in this region and helping to build resilient communities.
Scaling Up, Saving Lives: Confronting the Health Workforce Crisis
The world is currently facing a massive shortage of health workers. More than 4 million additional doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and other key public health workers are needed to fill this gap. The lack of skilled workers is especially acute in Africa, which bears 24 percent of the global disease burden and is home to 67 percent of the world’s HIV-positive population, yet has only 2.8 percent of the world’s health workforce. Developed countries—with a rising tide of chronic health problems and an aging health workforce—are also struggling with a demand for health workers that is far outpacing supply. In 15 years, the U.S. will face a projected shortage of 130,000 doctors. While the scale of the crisis is staggering, proven solutions do exist. This panel will discuss recent initiatives to sustain and build the health workforce, and potential interventions which can help reshape and reform medical training and the health care delivery system.
Financial Aid: Innovation for Affordability
Around the world, the price of higher education is becoming a major barrier to success. The cost of a college education in the U.S. has increased more than five-fold in the last 30 years, far outpacing income growth. In the developing world, college financing options for low-income students are virtually nonexistent. Tuition-free e-schools, open-source textbooks, and other promising educational technologies are beginning to fundamentally redefine how students learn and how much education should cost. As college degrees simultaneously become more expensive and more critical for future economic success, how can students work with universities, governments, NGOs, and financial institutions to create innovative college affordability solutions and additional low-cost, digital learning tools? What successful financing mechanisms already exist, particularly for low-income students? This session will examine a wide variety of strategies and best practices that are making college more affordable and accessible.
Education Pathways and Opportunities for Adolescents
There is an urgent crisis in education: a critical lack of resources and options for young people at the post-primary level in developing countries. In addition to the 69 million out-of-school primary-aged children in the world, an additional 71 million young people are not enrolled in school at the post-primary level. Moreover, there are more young people ages 12-24 today than ever before. Of the 1.5 billion young people in this age group, 1.3 billion live in developing countries, creating a “youth bulge.” Many of these young people find themselves with few viable schooling options. The International Labour Organization estimates that 300 million young people are “working poor” and living on less than $2 per day. This panel will focus on addressing the critical needs of adolescents, providing context and inspiration for how young people can actively address the needs of their peers around the globe.
Changing Tides: Addressing Ocean Degradation
Student Services Center
The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poignantly reminds us that we cannot take our oceans’ health for granted. Nearly half of the world’s population lives within 200 kilometers of the coast, a number that is expected to double by 2025. More than half of all Americans live on or near the coast, and one in every six jobs in the U.S. is marine-related. But pollution and ecological degradation threaten the productivity of the oceans and the livelihoods that depend on them. Oceans are routinely subject to overfishing, harmful algal blooms from sewage and fertilizer runoff, and islands of floating plastic waste. How can students and universities tackle an issue of such massive scale and complexity? This panel will bring together ocean experts and individuals with years of hands-on project experience to illustrate the role that students can play in restoring healthy ocean ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them.
Scarcity and Crisis: Food, Water, and Energy as a Right and a Conflict Driver
The age of “easy oil” is virtually over, with most remaining reserves in politically unstable or geographically hard-to-reach locations, further increasing the risk of price volatility. Global food security appears similarly unstable as the productivity gains of the 20th century’s Green Revolution are stagnating, even as food demand is forecast to rise by 50 percent by 2030. In 2009, the number of undernourished people in the world rose by 150 million to more than a billion, spurred by the spike in food costs and the ensuing global economic downturn. This triggered political unrest in 61 countries, while more than 30 countries introduced food export bans or restrictions. Finally, unsustainable surface and ground water extraction, combined with the impacts of climate change, will only exacerbate existing water scarcity issues in many parts of the world. This session will examine how resource scarcity drives political instability and violence. Panelists will highlight promising opportunities for action and existing effective strategies for addressing the looming food, water, and energy crises.
Seeking Shelter: The Power of Safe and Affordable Housing
By the year 2030, 3 billion people around the world will lack access to safe, affordable housing. To meet this need, 96,150 new housing units need to be created each day over the next twenty years. After food and water, shelter is one of the most fundamental human needs. The often complex and interrelated causes of homelessness are many and varied – from illness to recession, from political unrest to natural disasters. In the U.S., foreclosures are still forcing thousands of families out of their homes each month. Without an address, individuals cannot qualify for welfare programs, including food stamps and government health care. In our increasingly urban world, more than 1 billion people now live in slums. This panel will look at the relationship between housing and poverty, and will highlight smart housing projects that are addressing the shelter needs of the poor while also incorporating broader social and environmental needs.
The Global Paradox: Hunger and Obesity
As the world recovers from recent food and financial crises, nearly 1 billion people remain hungry, while another 1 billion are overweight. At no other time in history has the world experienced such a discrepancy between the number of people who are either obese or face acute starvation. In many households around the globe, a lack of financial capital contributes to both hunger and obesity, a paradox that is created in part by the economics of buying food. Cheap, high-calorie foods are sought out by some households to save limited funds and stave off hunger, while other families struggle to find any food to eat at all. The escalating levels of global hunger and obesity are entwined in a single issue: the inability to get food where it is needed and the inability of the hungry to afford it. Yet eliminating food insecurity is feasible. Panelists will share examples from their efforts to end hunger and malnutrition, and discuss potential roles that students can play in the prevention of these two public health crises.
A Conversation with President Clinton
What can students learn from those who are working on the front lines in some of the most distressed places on the planet? How can CGI U attendees translate their ambitious commitments into meaningful results in the months and years ahead? This conversation will highlight how individuals and organizations can effectively work in partnership with under-resourced communities in an empowering, productive, and ultimately successful manner.