On Monday, May 22nd, IVECA hosted the first university Live Classes of the year with participant universities from India, Korea and the United States. Students from different fields, including International Studies to Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science, presented possible solutions they brainstormed to tackle environmental problems worldwide beginning in their own communities.
All four colleges proposed great, ambitious ideas to resolve the problems in their communities. For example, one way students in the United States plan to improve digital literacy (SDG 4) in climate change for their community is by creating a website that will provide key information to New York citizens on topics of clean water, air, green jobs and sustainable housing. Students mentioned that the next goal in collaboration with local organizations would be to create an app that will continue educating citizens, leading to more people caring about the topic. As one of the students elaborates, “It will explain the laws and policies and everything that is going on in New York to help explain to citizens what is happening with climate change… change is happening, it’s just not being broadcasted enough.”
Korean students focused on SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities.) After analyzing what has contributed to past floods, they found one of the main causes is excessive street waste. Students added the increase in garbage produced by disposable items after COVID-19 still causes serious environmental destruction. Students explained how people are trying to refrain from using disposable, plastic items, but they believe addressing problems at the individual level is key. Although a recycling system is in place in Seoul, they believe that it has to be promoted and explained better so citizens can effectively recycle and adopt a unified process that works for all communities. “As our partner team mentioned the importance of education…,” one student shared, “We think that the understanding of waste management and recycling is important to solve this problem.”
India and their partner American university addressed similar issues that their communities and countries are facing. The students from the United States addressed the pressing issue of poor air quality, specifically in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They focused on social solutions; such as creating more awareness as students don’t believe that air pollution is a well-known fact in their city. Another solution is the promotion of sustainable transportation by using bikes, improving walking paths and switching to electric vehicle fleets from an individual level to a business level. One of the students mentioned the importance of fostering collaboration, saying, “Programs like this are also really good, we are collaborating, and getting all these new ideas.”
The students joining from India proposed great solutions to the different issues that need to be resolved in their local communities. They addressed problems such as waste management, air pollution and noise pollution. They expressed concerns in the alarming statistics that their existing waste and drainage management systems are not effectively solving. One of the solutions proposed by a student majoring in Microbiology is to use microbes, a species of bacterium that are capable enough to decompose plastic.
After each country’s presentation, there was dedicated time to answer partner university’s questions as well as give constructive feedback. Through the Live Class, students not only learned from their partner university peers, but also had the opportunity to hear from professors that provided subject matter expertise as well as their observations and suggestions for improving and implementing these solutions. “It’s a very good and interactive session. We from India found many solutions and some more experience from the international fellows and professors.”
Students were truly inspired by each other’s work. They look to the future with hope, believing that through educating and spreading awareness of these pressing issues little by little will add up to significant global change. As the first Live Classes were coming to an end, students reflected on the experience of participating in the virtual exchange. A student from India shared: “It was a wonderful experience, bringing two cultures together. It is a privilege to be here and listen to you. The solution is not a solution just for Meerut, India, or just for you, it is for a global purpose.”