SMU has joined Ohio State, Tuskegee University, Brown, Cornell and the University of California-Berkeley as one of 23 members of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Network – a consortium of colleges and universities that support, mentor and provide seed funding to student innovators and entrepreneurs.
With the approval of SMU Provost Paul Ludden, the University’s Office of Engaged Learning has committed the required $10,000 in funding for SMU students who design and execute an accepted CGI U project in one of five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health. The office will manage the budget and allocate the funds.
Successful applicants must submit their project ideas by the organization’s deadline of Jan. 30, 2013. The deadline for completion of each project will be built into its design, possibly ranging from a single academic term to multiple years. Director of Engaged Learning Susan Kress will guide SMU undergraduates through the process.
These project plans, called Commitments to Action, must be “new, specific and measurable initiatives that address social or environmental challenges on campuses, in communities or in different parts of the world,” according to the CGI U website. These commitments have ranged from manufacturing wheelchairs for developing countries to establishing campus bike-share programs, and from creating free vision clinics to mentoring youth through chess.
Through the SMU Engaged Learning initiative, “we’ve identified a few students who are thinking far beyond their years about projects that fit CGI U’s focus areas, and we’ve invited them to apply for funding,” Kress says. She will also work with students to identify faculty experts who can help steer their plans. “Engaged Learning has helped us build some very good relationships with several professors who are willing to work with students” on such projects, she says. Her office will give monthly updates to CGI U on each approved project.
President Bill Clinton launched the Clinton Global Initiative University (cgiu.org) in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders from college campuses around the world in developing plans and taking action to create positive change. Participants attend CGI U’s annual meeting where students, youth organizations, subject matter experts and thought leaders discuss and develop innovative solutions to global challenges.
CGI U 2013 will be held at Washington University in St. Louis from April 5-7. About 1,200 students from around the world are expected to attend. The opportunity to network with peers and leaders at these meetings is “potentially life-changing for some of these students,” Kress says.
Five SMU students have participated independently in CGI U since its inception.
For more information, contact Meleah Chriss in the Office of Engaged Learning, 214-768-3223.