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President Clinton’s Food Poverty Challenge Inspires Student Team’s 2013 Hult Prize Entry


A regionally diverse team of four Wagner students — David Margolis (West Bloomfield, MI), Jacqueline Burton (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), Laura Manley (Westfield, MA), and Ellen Nadeau (Clearwater, FL) — have been selected to advance to the prestigious Hult Prize regional finals in March.

The Hult Prize, in its fourth year, is the world’s largest student competition and crowdsourcing platform for social good. Recently,  it was recognized by former President Bill Clinton and TIME magazine as one of the top five new ideas for changing the world. In partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Hult Prize’s crowd-sourcing platform identifies and launches social ventures aimed at some of the most pressing global challenges. Student teams compete for the chance to secure $1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.

The 2013 Hult Prize focuses on global food security, and how to get safe, sufficient, affordable, and easily accessible food to the more than 200 million people who live in urban slums. This focus was personally selected by President Clinton, and it inspired the Wagner team.

The team is developing an initiative called Rootstock. It is a digital service-learning platform that unites students from various disciplines and countries to collaborate on global food security issues, and implement their learning directly in the field. The pilot curriculum is about urban agriculture.

This year’s Holt competition generated a record number of entries, totaling more than 10,000. The regional competitions take place on March 1 and 2 on Hult International Business School’s five campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai. The Wagner team will compete in San Francisco.

One team from each host city will be chosen for a summer business incubator, where participants will receive mentoring and other assistance as they create prototypes and prepare to launch their new social ventures. A final round of competition will be hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting in September, where the winning team will be selected and awarded the grand prize by President Clinton.

Stay tuned!

— Ellen Marie Nadeau

 


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Kenya’s new constitution faces toughest question yet: “Now what?”


Three decades, two constitutions and one “Committee of Experts” later, the people of Kenya have voted on a document to govern the country.  Piece of maandazi (like cake, but better), right?  Now all that’s left to do for peace and stability in the east African country is…well, all of it.

Kicking off the spring 2013 Conflict, Security and Development speaker series, NYU Wagner Professor Paul Smoke let us in on just a few of the challenges Kenya faces in its efforts to achieve state reform.  Kenya’s government and authority structure is redesigned. The newly decentralized system empowers county governments and relies more heavily on these localized structures for service delivery.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well for one, argues Smoke, the counties in Kenya’s new system have disparate levels of functionality. Some work; many don’t. This divide begs the question: should the national government invest its limited resources supporting those counties it knows to be capable of actually dispersing these resources to its people?  Or, should it spend more on the counties in greatest need in the name of equity (which the new constitution explicitly promotes)?

If the question of federal resource distribution doesn’t bend your brain, then consider the new internal structure of the counties themselves.  Most of the financial resources in this county system are generated in urban areas, while the seats of government power and decision-making lie in the hands of the rural populations.  Smoke offers a hypothetical illustration: “It would be like Baltimore being sucked up into Maryland; Maryland is now entirely responsible for all of the operations of the city.  The problem is, Maryland has no elected officials, no resources of its own, and it would have to vote funds away from itself to keep Baltimore going.”

“But wait,” you’re thinking, “didn’t we just say that all the money is coming from Baltimore?”  Why, yes.  Yes we did.  Now you see why the business of implementing an entirely new constitution that calls for an entirely redesigned system of government might not be as quick and painless as you thought?

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 12:30 PM IN RUDIN, Mark Foran, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, will discuss on the nascent field of Information and Technology in Humanitarian Action, and provide an inside look at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ new flagship publication about the role of technology in global humanitarian efforts.

– Ashley Nichole Kolaya


This Week at NYU Wagner


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