Meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals requires increased international collaborations. Students at campuses around the world offer unlocked brainpower to tackle big challenges. Through the Central Asia University Partnerships Program (UniCEN), administered by American Councils for International Education and funded by the U.S. State Department through the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, students at Lehigh University and Almaty Management University launched social entrepreneurship projects to address global grand challenges.
In early 2020, 15 students in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Almaty, Kazakhstan organized creative inquiry, a series of virtual dialogues to identify cross-border problems in their own communities. Guided by mentors, they discussed and shared thoughts on leadership, the importance of social impact projects, fellowships, and partnerships. By summer, students launched two social impact projects addressing air pollution and smart cities development. Working virtually, but across borders, students gained access to a series of workshops on context-appropriate design and social enterprise. Students continue to work to develop mobile apps to engage in UN sustainability actions. Meanwhile, Lehigh University’s Global Social Impact Fellowship continues to support new use-inspired research and social entrepreneurship collaborations in Almaty, Kazakhstan.