Northwestern students, teams partner with Clinton global university network

Emily Chin, Assistant Campus Editor

The Clinton Global Initiative University has accepted 12 Northwestern teams and individuals to share their projects at its annual summit. This is the first year Northwestern has partnered with CGI U.

CGI U is an international network of universities that focuses on student innovation and commitment to solving problems in education, the environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health. Students working on long-term projects to address these issues submitted applications to attend CGI U’s annual conference at the University of Miami, held in March.

At the conference, students will be able to talk to experts about their projects and get advice, and many of these experts include people who are involved with nonprofits and the government. Students also often try to get grant funding for their project at the conference.

Because of NU’s new relationship with the program, the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern held information sessions to encourage students to apply for CGI U.

“Because sustainability is so broad we thought it would be a really great way to engage students on campus and get them all in one place and talking about their passions and different projects,” said Monika Wnuk, ISEN’s integrated marketing and communications manager.

In the past, students have applied for CGI U, but never with formal support from the University.

“I think this is a really great opportunity for students to add or be able to apply local ideas to global problems, to be able to address some of the world’s most pressing issues,” Wnuk said. “It gives you a more of a global perspective, more of a sense of what one individual can do to make a difference in the world.”

The projects students are working on range from local initiatives in the Evanston community to solving problems in the developing world. Weinberg senior Emery Weinstein is working on a project individually to increase health literacy in the Evanston and Skokie area.

One of Weinstein’s professors, who knew she was working on a research project, suggested that NU staff members involved in the program reach out to her. She learned about CGI U and started a project.

Weinstein hopes that in attending the CGI U summit, she’ll get support for her project from experts. About 1,100 students are selected to attend.

“CGI U could make my project on a larger scale happen,” she said. “It’ll be shared on a national level and potentially inspire other students around the country to pursue similar projects.”

Wnuk agrees that the projects that students submit to CGI can be “great and impactful,” she said.

She stressed the idea of interdisciplinary work, and encouraged people from different schools within NU to work on teams together. ISEN recommended students who have similar passions work together so they could pursue the same issue in two different ways, Wnuk said.

“We thought (CGI U) would really well align with ISEN’s mission of supporting interdisciplinary work on campus,” Wnuk said. “It’s students from different schools with different passions looking to pursue the same thing.”

Three students in Project RISHI (Rural India Social and Health Improvement), which aims to find sustainable initiatives for villages in India, created a team and was accepted to the conference.

“A lot of people applied for CGI U independently, but we’re part of a larger organization that’s trying to make a sustainable impact,” said Vineet Aggarwal, who is on the RISHI team.

The Weinberg junior said he realized how helpful it is to have dedicated members that are specialized in what they do, instead of having to do all the work on his own.

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