Resilience and sustainability refer to a community’s ability to handle shocks (socioeconomic or environmental) while not over-consuming available resources or depriving people of their needs. A community requires both physical and socioeconomic infrastructure to thrive, including energy, water, businesses, healthy environments, and transportation.
Many communities are weak in one or more of these areas, and while higher education institutions may have new ideas for strengthening physical or intangible infrastructure, connecting with community leadership to share these ideas is unfortunately uncommon. At the same time, communities have their own rich histories, and the ideas of academia may not make sense, and may even actively harm, individual communities. Listening to local stories and understanding the current system is part of building a more resilient place.
Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) and GreatChina International (GreatChina) have joined together to support students to engage with their local communities in China. ESW and GreatChina are proud to announce the Resilient Communities Design Challenge (CommUnity) to pair high school and undergraduate students who have the desire to solve global issues with big, real world sustainability challenges. This CommUnity Challenge is the first of the individual programs to support ESW’s “Big Idea” of resilient and sustainable communities. Students can put to use their technical skills while also learning throughout the process in an authentic and hands-on way, thereby gaining valuable experiences. Students will have the ability to support a unique change locally while allowing all parts of the ESW and GreatChina network to work towards a central topic.
ESW and GreatChina hopes that participating in this challenge will build bridges between participating teams and their communities that will last for many years. It is hoped that these connections will spark new ideas between teams and their local partners that can be carried forward as positive change beyond the life of the challenge.