Blum Center Innovation Director Lina Nilsson Named One of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35

Lina NilssonAugust 21, 2013 – Dr. Lina Nilsson, Innovation Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, has been named one of this year’s Innovators Under 35 by the MIT Technology Review. For more than a decade, the global media company has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world.

“We’re proud of our selections and the variety of achievements they celebrate, and we’re proud to add Lina to this prestigious list,” says MIT Technology Review’s editor in chief and publisher Jason Pontin. “Over the years, we’ve had success in choosing women and men whose innovations and companies have been profoundly influential on the direction of human affairs. Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook; Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple; and David Karp, the creator of Tumblr.”

Dr. Nilsson is being recognized for her work at the Blum Center as well as Tekla Labs, which works to enable scientists in the developing world to construct their own high- quality lab equipment using readily available, off-the-shelf items. Her selection highlights UC Berkeley’s strength in cultivating not only researchers and entrepreneurs, but also ambitious social innovators working across disciplines to meet global challenges head-on. One of 10 women on this year’s list, Dr. Nilsson also illustrates the growing influence of women in the fields of technology and innovation.

“Lina is an extraordinarily talented researcher. Her work combines the best of innovative technology and a commitment to the alleviation of poverty in a new construct of development engineering. She is a ground-breaking thinker who truly embodies the Blum Center’s spirit of innovation and social engagement,” said Shankar Sastry, Dean of the College of Engineering and Faculty Director of the Blum Center. “We are delighted that she has been recognized for her pioneering achievements.”

A biomedical engineer by training, Dr. Nilsson believes that global challenges in health, environment, and development require grassroots contributions from the entire global scientific community. While completing her MSc at the University of Washington, Dr. Nilsson received a Bonderman Fellowship to travel throughout resource-scarce areas in Asia and South America. She visited labs and met with scientists whose research was significantly hindered by a lack of standard lab equipment. Subsequently, she founded Tekla Labs as a platform for “thinking creatively about ways to sustainably improve access to equipment and other physical infrastructure” so that “more researchers around the globe will have access to the tools they need to act on their insights and transformative ideas.”

Dr. Nilsson and this year’s other honorees are featured online at TechnologyReview.com and in the September/October print magazine, which hits newsstands worldwide on September 3. They will appear in person at the upcoming EmTech MIT conference from October 9–11 in Cambridge, MA.

About the Blum Center for Developing Economies

Established in 2006, the Blum Center for Developing Economies educates the next generation of global citizens to be agents of change in the struggle against global poverty. Its mission is to improve the well-being of three billion people in the world who live on less than two dollars a day by designing and developing sustainable solutions to tackle the toughest poverty challenges. The Center brings a rigorous multi-disciplinary approach and real-world applications to the classroom, lab and into the field. With its combination of unrivaled disciplinary depth and breadth, cutting-edge thinking, and the University of California’s unique culture of global engagement, the Center translates and applies innovative research to solving the world’s most pressing problems.

About MIT Technology Review

MIT Technology Review leads the global conversation about technologies that matter. An independent media company owned by MIT, it produces publications read by millions of business leaders, innovators, and thought leaders around the globe, in six languages and on a variety of platforms. The company publishes MIT Technology Review magazine, the most respected technology magazine; daily news features, analysis, and opinion; and Business Reports, which explain how technologies are transforming industries. It produces live events such as the annual EmTech MIT, international EmTech conferences, Summits, and Salons. The company’s entrepreneurial community organization, MIT Enterprise Forum, hosts 400+ events a year around the world.

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For MIT Technology Review:

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For Blum Center:

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Former U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu Rejoins Board of Trustees of Blum Center for Developing Economies at University of California, Berkeley

Distinguished scientist, Cabinet secretary and Nobel Prize winner brings national, global policy perspectives to next generation of global citizens

Steven Chu

Berkeley, Calif. (August 1, 2013) — The Blum Center for Developing Economies, a leading center for global poverty studies and innovative global development solutions, today announced that Dr. Steven Chu, former U.S. Energy Secretary and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics, is returning as a member of its Board of Trustees. The distinguished scientist will provide important perspective and guidance on the future of the Center and its role in shaping future changemakers to address challenges faced by the world’s poor.

“We are very pleased to have Dr. Chu rejoin our board,” said Richard C. Blum, Founder of the Blum Center. “To have someone of his stature and his level of scientific achievement will be a tremendous asset as we develop and offer world-class programs and innovative courses to this generation, who feel compelled to confront issues of global inequality.”

Dr. Chu served as Trustee for the Blum Center from 2008 to 2009. He is currently Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. Prior to his appointment, he served as the U.S. Secretary of Energy from January 21, 2009, to April 22, 2013, during which time he was charged with helping implement President Barack Obama’s agenda to invest in clean energy, reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create millions of new jobs.

“Dr. Chu brings a wealth of experience working on sustainable energy solutions and novel technologies,” said Shankar Sastry, Dean of the University of California Berkeley College of Engineering and Faculty Director of the Blum Center. “His knowledge will greatly enhance the Blum Center’s work in leveraging the talent of faculty and students—particularly those in the STEM fields—toward global development, and will help us build up the innovative field of development engineering at UC Berkeley.”

Prior to his Cabinet post, Dr. Chu was the Director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where he led the pursuit of alternative and renewable energy technologies. He also taught at UC Berkeley as a Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology. Previously, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories. The award-winning scientist is the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1997) for his research for the cooling and trapping of atoms in laser light.

The Blum Center’s Board features many dignitaries, including former U.S. presidents, Cabinet members and senators; former government officials from foreign nations; and global business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. In addition to Dr. Chu and Mr. Blum, the list includes Board Chair Laura Tyson, Professor in the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and Former Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors; Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich; Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz; Caio Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman, Deutsche Bank Group and Former Deputy Finance Minister of Germany; Former U.S. Senator Thomas A. Daschle of DLA Piper, LLP; and Vinod Khosla, President of Khosla Ventures, among others.

About The Blum Center for Developing Economies

Established in 2006, the Blum Center for Developing Economies cultivates and educates the next generation of global citizens to be agents of change in the struggle against global poverty. Its mission is to improve the well-being of three billion people in the world who live on less than two dollars a day by designing and developing sustainable solutions to tackle the toughest poverty challenges. The Center brings a rigorous multi-disciplinary approach and real-world applications to the classroom, lab and into the field. With its combination of unrivaled disciplinary depth and breadth, cutting-edge thinking, and the University of California’s unique culture of global engagement, the Center translates and applies innovative research to solving the world’s most pressing problems. More information at http://blumcenter.berkeley.edu/

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Media Contacts:

Fred Muir, For Blum Center
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Christie Ly
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2013 GPP Graduates Look to Careers of Social Engagement

On May 23rd, sixty-nine students representing thirty majors accepted certificates in the Global Poverty and Practice (GPP) Minor from Professors Ananya Roy, Clare Talwalker, and Max Aufhammer, as well as Richard Blum, founder of the Blum Center for Developing Economies. Faculty and student speakers stressed the complexity of global challenges as well as the imperative of creatively combating those challenges each and every day.

“We can’t let the limitations we face bring us down or be intimidated by the magnitude of the work,” said student commencement speaker Sarah Edwards. “We can’t think things will never change. We can’t stop trying. Really, we can’t be stopped.”

GPP Class of 2013
Photo credit: Jim Block

The diversity of intended career paths in the GPP Class of 2013 is a testament to the program’s interdisciplinary nature. Students are bound for many destinations and types of work, from studying housing struggles in post-Katrina New Orleans, to working locally as an emergency medical technician while pursuing a graduate degree in humanitarian engineering design, to helping design a cultural center in a Samoan community nearly 5,000 miles away.

While many graduates intend to work locally, others in the class remain focused on global-scale interventions. Edwards and fellow student commencement speaker Nikki Brand will both be working overseas—Brand in Guatemala with the social entrepreneurship organization Community Enterprise Solutions, and Edwards as a Peace Corps Forestry and Agroforestry Extension Agent in Cameroon.

Nikki Brand speaks at GPP Graduation
Nikki Brand, GPP Class of 2013, encouraged fellow graduates not be innocent bystanders, but to reach further and use the tools given to them at Cal to work toward change. Photo credit: Jim Block

This diversity of student interests is unified through a shared commitment to community engagement. This year, three members of the GPP community were honored with prestigious Chancellor’s Awards for Public Service in recognition of their service to communities both local and global. The Chancellor’s 2013 Service Learning Leadership Award was given to Dr. Genevieve Negron-Gonzales, who taught the GPP capstone course as well as an enrichment course on educational justice and undocumented students.  The 2013 Mather Good Citizen Award, which recognizes one graduating senior who has demonstrated a high standard of conduct and service to the campus, was awarded to Abhinaya Narayanan. In addition to her GPP studies and internships in the community, Narayanan served as Project Coordinator of Asha, a student-run organization providing education to underprivileged children, and as Student Director of Oakland Community Builders, connecting UC Berkeley students with internships at social justice organizations in the East Bay. Gardenia Casillas, another GPP student, received an Undergraduate Student Award for Civic Engagement.  Casillas completed service work in Ecuador providing dental care to poor communities and plans to work in Ethiopia this summer, funded by a Harvard Fellowship in Public Health, before pursuing advanced degrees in medicine and public health.

As the GPP Class of 2013 disperses to all corners of the globe, the Blum Center is confident that this new generation of poverty action scholars is prepared to face the challenges, questions, and complexities of global development work.  Dr. Negron-Gonzales bid farewell to her GPP students with an inspiring quote from Antonio Machado, reminding them: “Journeyer, there is no path. The path is made by walking.”


For more photos, visit the GPP Minor Graduation 2013 Facebook album.

GPP Students Set Out for Summer Practice Experiences

By: Javier Kordi  and Sean Burns

Family Planning Organization of the Philippines
Student Lorraine Mosqueda will work with the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, a reproductive health service provider and an advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Photo credit: FPOP

May 16, 2013 – Each summer, Global Poverty and Practice students travel to communities all over the world to engage in poverty alleviation work.  By giving students on-the-ground exposure to the complex challenges of poverty action, these ‘practice experiences’ put classroom learning into new perspective. The Blum Center’s Student Fellowship program helps to fund a majority of these GPP students as they seek to collaborate with a variety of NGOs, government agencies, social movements, and businesses to turn their studies into tangible community work.

Guided by their own interests and questions, students are challenged to define a practice experience which advances their academic goals and aligns with their passions. For Zahra AbouKhalil, a third year student majoring in Public Health and fluent Arabic speaker, this means traveling to Lebanon in mid June to begin an internship with the Amel Association in Beirut—an organization working for the rights of Syrian refugees. Over 350,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Lebanon since the start of the civil unrest in Syria. AbouKhalil’s practice experience will entail running health and sanitation workshops in the Amel’s refugee camps.

Each year, many GPP students view the practice experience as an opportunity to ‘give back’ to their home communities. Lorraine Mosqueda will travel to the island of Iloilo in the Philippines to complete her practice experience. Mosqueda, a third year majoring in Microbial Biology, will work alongside the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines to conduct community outreach and spread contraceptive awareness. A native of the island of Iloilo, she aspires to engage with her community on topics of women’s and family health that have been central to her studies at UC Berkeley.

International practice experiences such as AbouKhalil’s and Mosqueda’s have proven invaluable to student’s perspectives and professional goals. However, as GPP’s Professor Ananya Roy articulates in the foundational course of the Minor, students must also foster a “Politics of Locality”—that is, understand that poverty does not exist ‘out there’, but is instead a phenomenon with both local and international dynamics. Understanding this relationship between the local and international manifestations of poverty encourages students to not forgo the importance of poverty action in their own backyards.  This year, the Blum Center witnessed a significant increase in students seeking local practices. Thirteen students will stay in California—ten of whom will be in Berkeley or Oakland—working on issues ranging from affordable housing and community health to food security and women’s economic rights.

Karem Herrera, a Public Health major, will complete her practice with Don’t Sell Bodies, an anti-human trafficking organization led by Cal grad Minh Dang that seeks to spread awareness through the telling of narratives.  There are millions of individuals coerced into forced labor or sexual exploitation in the US, and the San Francisco Bay Area is considered by the FBI to be one most prominent locations for these illegal activities. Herrera’s practice experience will focus on assisting Don’t Sell Bodies in organizing conferences to increase survivor participation. The inclusion of survivors’ stories is central to the organization’s mission to empower vulnerable populations through education and awareness—a mission Herrera hopes to forward.

City Slicker Farms
Hillary Acer will intern this summer with City Slicker Farms, which works to empower West Oakland community members to meet their need for healthy organic food by creating high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens. Photo credit: City Slicker Farms

Local practices enable GPP students such as Hillary Acer to work on issues impacting UC Berkeley’s neighboring communities. Acer, a third year majoring in Integrative biology with a minor in Dance, will spend her summer in West Oakland interning with the well-known food justice organization City Slicker Farms. By assisting the organization with the expansion of their home and community gardens program, Acer will be working to increase access to healthy food in one of America’s largest ‘food deserts.’ This practice experience reflects her broader interests in community health and will give her exposure to food and nutrition challenges with an emphasis on social justice.

Capturing the essence of the practice experience, the Blum Center’s GPP Program Coordinator Chetan Chowdhry enthusiastically states: “The practice experience is a vital aspect of the GPP Minor because it allows students to directly engage with the political and ethical challenges that are inherent in efforts to address global poverty and inequality.  As a result, it pushes them to think critically about what meaningful global practice entails.”

Generation Innovation: Luis Flores, 2013-14 Stronach Prize Winner, Takes on Cross-Border Economic and Social Justice

Luis Flores in Imperial Valley
Flores in Southern California’s Imperial Valley, where he will research transnational dynamics impacting social and economic conditions in the border region. Photo credit: Ericka Veliz

Luis Flores, a Blum Center student writer and soon-to-be first generation university graduate, has recently been awarded the prestigious Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize for the 2013-14 school year. Below, Flores shares how his family history has inspired his pursuit of global economic and social justice. The Stronach Prize, celebrating the life and work of art historian, activist, and poetry teacher Judith Lee Stronach, offers generous grants of up to $25,000 for UC Berkeley undergraduates looking to heighten awareness of issues of social consciousness and the public good.

I am happily surprised to have been awarded a Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize for the 2013-14 school year, which I will spend along the southern border with Mexico. My intended project straddles the line between community engagement and academic inquiry—or rather, proposes that they can (and must) be one and the same. Using different modes of community engagement, I hope to reveal the fundamentally transnational dynamics that made California’s southern border region particularly vulnerable to the Great Recession (the region now ranks the highest in national unemployment and embodies a series of other painful superlatives).

I was raised in a small desert town along the southern border convinced that my upbringing occurred in a bubble, disconnected from the cosmopolitan modern world. The education I received at UC Berkeley revealed the opposite. My native region, like all localities, is deeply interconnected with the “outer world” through a web of economic and social linkages. In fact, the tensions built into these relationships are particularly visible in border regions—where the irony of American economic power is a visible part of everyday life. It is these historical interconnections that my project seeks to uncover. A result of faulty immigration policy, World Bank-influenced economic policies, increases in free trade production, among other dynamics, residents on both sides of the border entered lives of credit dependency as early as the 1980s. It will be the effect of these economic histories that my project of community engagement will take on. The result will hopefully be the “denaturalization” of credit dependency and the opening of credit relationships as a new arena for political and social contestation.

While this project’s direction owes much to personal observation and experience, it is visibly imprinted by my time at UC Berkeley, where I’ve had the fortune of being a part of multiple communities. Enrolled in degree programs in History and in Political Economy, I benefited from the kindness and generosity of professors in geography, history, and global poverty and practice. Particularly, Khalid Kadir and professors Gillian Hart, Catherine Cole, and Ananya Roy have been formative mentors—constantly reminding me of the political stakes of academic research. I learned a great deal from the team of writers at the Berkeley Political Review, and have been perhaps most profoundly changed by my time living in the Berkeley Student Cooperative.

It is ironic that while I did not minor in Global Poverty and Practice, the Blum Center has become a sort of educational home. After two years of working as a staff writer, I’ve had the opportunity to meet dozens of GPP students, been exposed to the Big Ideas@Berkeley contest, and became involved with the center’s growing Global Poverty and Inequality Scholarship, like the Territories of Poverty conference and book. The administrative and educational staff members at the Blum Center are kind and supportive friends. The center attracts people passionately devoted to development—though from different perspectives. I’ve learned a great deal from these encounters and experiments within development practice.

While I am thankful to my mentors, family, and friends, I am aware that studying at UC Berkeley was the result of a series of incidental generational events and actions. This makes it problematic to congratulate myself. But whom or what should I thank? Should I go as far back as to thank the turbulent disagreements that compelled my grandmother and then-toddler dad to move from central Mexico to a town along on the Mexican side of the Arizona border—later facilitating my dad’s move to Baja California? Should I thank the low-paying municipal programs that made the prospect of illegal work in the U.S. more lucrative to my parents that their legal government jobs in Mexico? Surely I can thank the coincidental passing of an amnesty law in the 1980s, for granting my parents legal resident status and allowing for my privileged birth in a U.S. hospital. My point is that, particularly in moments of celebration, one can lose sight of how much an individual’s accomplishments are the result of the efforts of communities and generations, as well as of the random procession of history. There seems no difference in capability between many of my cousins in Mexico and me, who due to a different chance history are restricted from the opportunities that allowed me to apply for the Judith Lee Stronach Prize.

It is this sense of undue relative privilege that fuels what must be a life of social engagement. I encourage students interested in poverty research or social and economic justice to foster friendships with mentors and to seek out campus resources, but to never lose sight of the perspective and voices of the marginalized.

Flores is eager to assist students interested in applying to the prize or in projects of economic justice. He can be contacted at jr.luisf AT gmail DOT com.

Students Draw Inspiration, Lessons from Weekend at Clinton Global Initiative University

By: Javier Kordi

Ngan Pham and Mohammad Yunus
UC Berkeley student Ngan Pham met microfinance pioneer Mohammad Yunus, one of her heroes, at the CGI-U conference.

In early April, eighteen UC Berkeley students attended the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) conference in St. Louis, Missouri, eager to make progress on their “commitments to action”—student-led projects which aim to tackle the most pressing challenges facing humanity. With $500,000 available for investment in student projects—in addition to funds and support from the institutions in the University Network—and an all-star line-up of keynote speakers, this year’s event provided an unprecedented atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and networking.

Ngan Pham, a student in the Global Poverty and Practice (GPP) Minor, described CGI-U as refreshing because it brought together a “group of ambitious and humble individuals” all aspiring to create a positive change. Pham’s project, “ServeFund,” prepares low-income students to be competitive and financially eligible for internships and public service opportunities—experiences that employers value highly in today’s job market. Because CGI-U brings together prominent public figures and private sector leaders, student attendees are often able to network with their idols. Pham recalls one serendipitous morning at CGI-U when she met and exchanged contact information with Professor Mohammad Yunus, an economist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient specializing in microfinance.

CGI-U supports a diverse spectrum of student commitments, from social service projects to science-driven solutions to local and global challenges. The conference gave Connor Galleher and Matt Pavlovich an opportunity to unveil their first venture in global poverty alleviation. Utilizing their knowledge of plasma physics and chemical engineering, the duo constructed a device that generates plasma as an affordable and low-input sanitation agent for water and surfaces. Requiring only electricity and air, their device has immense potential to curb infection and disease when used in developing countries. Galleher and Pavlovich were one of two teams to present on-stage in the “Solving the Global Sanitation Crisis” session.

Matt Pavlovich & Connor Galleher CGIU Display
Students Matt Pavlovich & Connor Galleher display their project poster at CGI-U. The experience taught them valuable lessons in marketing technology solutions to the public.

Pavlovich emphasized how easily it was to build partnerships with other attendees. The eerie glow of their prototype on display attracted many at CGI-U, including Stephen Colbert, who described the event as “a science fair for noble causes.” Even CGI-U host President Bill Clinton casually walked over to their booth, and—after listening to their pitch—picked up their business cards and mentioned the possibility of providing solar panels for their power needs.

Beyond networking, Galleher and Pavlovich’s exposure in the CGI-U space encouraged the team to rethink the way they presented and marketed their idea. Galleher recalled that “people were in pain when reading our [poster]” because few attendees were familiar with the language of plasma physics. The project team was compelled to “recalibrate [their] message” in order to make it more accessible. They now have a website and a pending project title—“PlasMachine”—that they hope will make the seemingly esoteric topic more understandable and accessible for the general population.

Karem Herrera, also a GPP student, described the three day CGI-U conference as “empowering” because it spoke to all aspects of the poverty challenge—including the inevitable failures and obstacles that aspiring change-makers encounter—and provided opportunities for collaboration. Herrera’s commitment is to organize a youth empowerment program in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Working with a team of approximately fifteen UC Berkeley students through MEND (an on-campus organization), her program will extend educational resources to economically disadvantaged youths in Aguascalientes. During the event, she met the directors of a similar project, Union De Jovenes Por Mexico (Union of Youth for Mexico), and may work closely with the group in the near-future.

Rajika Jindani and Chelsea Clinton
UC Berkeley student Rajika Jindani was excited to meet Chelsea Clinton at CGI-U and share her Commitment to Action, a microfinance project with Jaipur Foot.

Sean Burns, Director of Student Programs at the Blum Center, feels the conference offered an important experience for UC Berkeley students on a number of levels. “Students were able to analyze the vision and strategy of their projects,” he remarked. “They were able to meet and converse with dozens of experienced leaders in social change and innovation, and return to campus with a bolstered sense of enthusiasm and confidence for carrying forth their project commitments.” Burns, who serves as the UC Berkeley campus representative in the inaugural year of the CGI-U University Network, looks forward to continuing to work with these students as they seek to fulfill their commitments to action.

Read more about the Blum Center’s role in the CGI-U University Network.

Malaria-fighting “Faso Soap” Wins Global Social Venture Competition Grand Prize, People’s Choice Award

Faso Soap team at GSVC
The Faso Soap team accepts their awards at the Global Social Venture Competition Global Conference. Photo credit: GSVC/Bruce Cook Photography

Congratulations to Faso Soap, Grand Prize winner of the 2013 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) and winner of the Blum Center People’s Choice Award! At the April 12th GSVC Global Conference, the team behind the anti-malaria initiative was awarded $26,500 in prize money to jump-start their business. Faso Soap is the first non-American team to win GSVC.

Faso Soap team members Moctar Dembélé and Gérard Niyondiko, students from Burundi and Burkina Faso, have developed an innovative mosquito repellant solution made with natural ingredients that are available locally in Burkina Faso. This solution, added to locally manufactured soap, provides a very accessible, low-cost anti-malarial tool.

With upwards of 300 million malaria cases each year globally, the mosquito-borne disease remains a significant—but preventable—health threat. In sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is a leading cause of death, many families living on only a few dollars a day are unable to afford mosquito repellants and anti-malarial drugs. For this reason, Faso Soap is an incredibly important innovation in the ongoing fight against malaria.

The Global Social Venture Competition provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure, and $50,000 in prizes to transform their ideas into businesses that will have positive real world impact. Founded by MBA students at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the GSVC culminates each year with the Global Finals and Conference at Berkeley in April, gathering teams from around the world and Bay Area professionals for a day of learning and networking. GSVC has evolved into a global network supported by an international community of volunteer judges, mentors and student organizers and a partnership of premier business schools in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The Blum Center applauds Faso Soap and the other GSVC winners and wishes them well in their exciting social ventures! Watch their pitch videos at the links below.

Full list of 2013 GSVC winners:

Center for Responsible Business Quick Pitch Award ($1,000):  Jorsey Ashbel Farms – Nigeria

Blum Center for Developing Economies People’s Choice Award ($1,500):  Faso Soap – Burkina Faso

Third Place ($7,500): Pulp Works – USA

Second Place ($15,000): Carbon Roots International – Haiti

First Place ($25,000): Faso Soap – Burkina Faso

FASO SOAP GSVC Pitch Video from Check-in films on Vimeo.

Blum Center Applauds Newly Appointed Chancellor’s Public Scholars

New Courses Will Link Scholarship and Community Action

ACES Awardees Sean Burns and Khalid Kadir
Sean Burns (left) and Khalid Kadir (right) have been named 2014 Chancellor’s Public Scholars. Each will design and teach a course emphasizing public scholarship and community engagement.

By: Luis Flores and Rachel Voss

April 18, 2013 – Dr. Khalid Kadir, Blum Center Lecturer, and Dr. Sean Burns, Blum Center Director of Student Programs, have been honored as 2014 Chancellor’s Public Scholars by the American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) Program.  Each will design and teach a new course in Spring 2014, emphasizing public scholarship and student engagement in community-based projects. These courses will be cross-listed as enrichment courses in the Blum Center’s Global Poverty and Practice (GPP) Minor.

ACES, a collaborative program between the American Cultures Center and the Cal Corps Public Service Center, aims to transform how community-engaged scholarship is valued on campus. Much like the GPP Minor, ACES seeks to enhance student learning through a combination of teaching and practice, encourage innovative thinking that impacts communities, and transform how the academy approaches ideas relevant to communities in struggle. ACES courses satisfy a campus-wide American Cultures requirement, exposing the entire undergraduate student body to important social histories and issues.

“It is wonderful to have the core faculty of the GPP Minor also actively involved in ACES,” said Dr. Ananya Roy, Education Director at the Blum Center and Professor of City and Regional Planning. “This breaks down the divide between critical poverty studies and practice—often imagined to be concerned with the Global South—and American cultures—often imagined to be concerned with ‘home,’ not ‘elsewhere’.”

Kadir’s and Burns’ awards solidify the Blum Center’s place at the forefront of efforts to transform the relationship between UC Berkeley and the local—and global—community. Working in collaboration with ACES and the Public Service Center, the Blum Center aims to stretch and invigorate Berkeley’s commitment to community-relevant scholarship and impactful community-campus partnerships.

Kadir’s and Burns’ selection follows Blum Center Lecturer Dr. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales’ participation as a 2013 Chancellor’s Public Scholar. Negrón-Gonzales, whose ACES course focused on “Educational Justice: Undocumented Migrant Students & Struggles around ‘Citizenship’,” has also received the Chancellor’s Service-Learning Leadership Award for her work on this course.

Kadir, who received his PhD in Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, first linked social science perspectives with technical problems while writing his dissertation on waste water projects in developing countries. Kadir now teaches a course in the International Areas Studies program on political economy and is a core faculty member in the GPP Minor. Kadir’s new course—among the first ever at UC Berkeley to combine technical and social perspectives with community engagement—sits at the intersection of environmental justice, social justice, and engineering. He hopes it will build engineering students’ understanding of both the possibilities and limitations of technically-based solutions.

“The goal is to help students look beyond the technical orientation of engineering approaches and learn to recognize the ways in which problems that may appear technical are at their roots deeply embedded in social justice,” said Kadir. By partnering with community groups addressing air pollution and soil contamination in Richmond, California, as well as drinking water contamination in unincorporated townships in the Central Valley, Kadir’s course will encourage students to combine interventions with local community engagement. “This class should contribute new scholarship and help shape a cadre of engineers who view problems through a more holistic lens,” he added.

Burns, who holds a PhD from UC Santa Cruz’s History of Consciousness program, published a biography on Bay Area activist Archie Green that was awarded the 2012 CLR James Award for Best Book from the Working Class Studies Association.

Burns’ new course, “Social Movements, Urban Histories, and the Politics of Memory,” examines a range of national and transnational progressive social movements which have had a prominent and influential impact in the San Francisco Bay Area. “The course will not only analyze what others have written and said of these movements, it will also organize community-based documentation projects which seek to expand public understanding of these histories, their legacies, and the contemporary experience of these communities and struggles,” explained Burns.

Making student engagement central to his course, Burns stressed that the class “will encourage students to see themselves as both history makers (people with political agency) and historians (people committed to and skilled in the practice of historical documentation). These skills and sensibilities are essential for engaging in poverty action and, like Khadir’s course, importantly complement the range of work we are taking up in the Global Poverty and Practice Minor.”

Generation Innovation: Rebecca Peters, 4th Generation Cal Student, 2013 Truman Scholar

Rebecca Peters, 2013 Truman Scholar
Rebecca Peters, a Blum Center student and the fourth woman in her family to attend UC Berkeley, was named a 2013 Harry S. Truman Scholar last week. Sixty-two college juniors received the prestigious award on the basis of their academic achievements, leadership accomplishments, and their commitment to becoming a leader in public service. The Scholarship provides leadership training, post-graduate opportunities in Washington, DC, and $30,000 for graduate study. Peters reflects on her winding journey to the Truman Scholarship and her future beyond the Blum Center and UC Berkeley.

April 17, 2013 – My path to the Truman Scholarship began to take shape generations ago, when my great grandmother frequented UC Berkeley’s hallowed grounds while pursuing degrees in Spanish and history. My grandmother, currently 96 years old and still reflecting fondly on her time at Cal, similarly began her studies here only to leave to take a job at Lawrence Berkeley Lab as an engineering designer. My mom also began to pursue a degree here before decamping to take a job in the city. I was born in San Francisco and grew up hearing about UC Berkeley, but it always seemed like a distant institution that belonged to my ancestors. As a graduating high school senior I was certain that I wanted to study environmental science and engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to begin a career in Californian river restoration work.

However, my path radically shifted when I enrolled in an Appropriate Technology course that included fieldwork in rural Guatemala. Bearing witness to abject destitution profoundly refocused my perspective, and I began to understand the problem of poverty for the billions of people living without safe water, education, and health care. Learning how to negotiate the complex divides between poverty and wealth helped me develop my own solidarity in the context of inequality, and this experience learning to bridge cultural difference and seek transnational similarities inspired me to apply to transfer to UC Berkeley to enroll in the Global Poverty and Practice Minor.

Once at Berkeley, I declared majors in Society and Environment (B.Sc.) and International Development and Economics (B.A.) through the interdisciplinary field studies program. For my GPP practice experience, I sought to unite these fields by working on rural water projects with the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Water for People in Cochabamba, Bolivia from May to August 2012. Many of my days consisted of visiting communities without connections to the municipal water supply and discussing the role of water cooperatives in improving access. Through this work, I found a significant component missing from the work of the organizations: addressing the asymmetrical impacts of a lack of water on women and girls. I am now leading the expansion of gender sensitive water programs in twelve rural schools in Bolivia this summer, and am a finalist for the Human Rights category of the BigIdeas@Berkeley competition to support these efforts.

Rebecca Peters in Chiapas, Mexico
Peters examines the bottling mechanisms for community distribution from a safe water kiosk in Chiapas, Mexico, in March 2013. Three fellow GPP students will complete their practice experience at the site in Summer 2013.

While at Cal, I have participated in two Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP) projects with Blum Center associated faculty and am currently working with Professor Isha Ray to generate a literature review on the current state of water treatment models in Latin America. My first honors thesis, a formative component of my research engagement at Cal, analyzed the formation of current conditions of water access, control, and management in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The municipal government in Cochabamba theoretically incorporated civic participation as an element of their planning system through the conduits of varying levels of administration. However, a 2004 report by the United Nations RISD found clear evidence that elements of class-based discrimination and resulting inequalities in access to water existed in the residential peri-urban spaces of Cochabamba, with such inter-urban spaces becoming places where the population is an indicator of processes of social differentiation (UNRISD 2004). The insurgent urbanization of Cochabamba resulted in the rise of numerous squatter settlements, zones of informal housing, and distinctively “peri-urban” regions on the outskirts of the city. Asymmetrical political power distribution is most obviously manifested in the noticeable absence of municipal services that are provided to the wealthier districts of the city, including water and sanitation. In this way, I came to understand water as not just an environmental, economic, social, or cultural resource, but also the site of considerable politicized inequity. These diverse research experiences that often cross into advocacy have collectively reinforced my belief in the importance of working across disciplines to achieve the goals of reducing poverty, improving global health, and increasing equality in water and environmental resource distribution.

Over the past two years, I revitalized the Water IdeaLab, co-founded a DeCal on water and international human rights, and collaborated with faculty to create an undergraduate curriculum to improve water related student opportunities. I also lead the Nuestra Agua student group, and alongside fellow students introduced a social justice and human rights perspective to the organization which was previously narrowly focused on the role of UV technology and health outcomes for reducing water borne illness in rural Mexican communities. The program in Chiapas will be the summer practice experience for three GPP students to contribute to safe water programs.

While I am thrilled that my efforts thus far have helped engage students in water issues on campus, in the community, and around the world, there are still miles to go. The Truman and Udall scholarships, along with the Berkeley Law Human Rights Fellowship, are honors that I take very seriously as long-term investments to foster my commitment to water, social justice, and human rights work. My roots at Berkeley, beginning with my great grandmother, instilled in me a deep sense of history and appreciation for the educational experience here. I am still awed by the sheer physical beauty of the architecture, inspired by the intellect of my peers, and humbled by the opportunities I have as a student at Cal.

After graduating from Cal and working in Washington, DC with the State Department through the Truman Scholars Institute, I intend to pursue dual masters degrees in Water Science, Policy, and Management (M.Sc.) and International Development (M.A.) which will enable me to contribute to the design of meaningful policies that will shape the future role of the United States in water and the environment. In the future, I hope to work with the State Department’s new US Water Partnership to define its direction as a leader in US foreign policy related to issues of environmental sustainability and water security. My vision is to address inequitable water consumption practice while targeting the improvement of strong civil societies able to hold their government representatives accountable to the social, economic, and cultural demands of water. Through designing policies that empower governments to fulfill their obligation to provide affordable and accessible safe water to their people, I hope to make access to and control of water resources a more inclusive, transparent, and equitable process.

Some advice I would offer students looking for ways to get involved in poverty action are to utilize campus resources like the Blum Center, the Scholarship Connection, the Center for Effective Global Action, and Cal Corps. The mentorship and support I have received from the faculty and staff at the Blum Center have been critical to my activism, research, and advocacy for poverty and water issues. The lasting friends I have made through the Global Poverty and Practice minor – the other peer advisors, my classmates, and my Bolivian partners – inspire me every day with their creative brilliance, thoughtful innovations, and deep compassion. The Blum Center has effectively created a space to allow for a new vein of student driven and institution supported work that facilitates the millennial generation’s mission to theoretically and practically engage with the challenges of global poverty and inequality. Effective poverty action requires informed actors, and the millennials at Berkeley are capable of critically engaging to end the inequality that drives pressing economic, environmental, and social problems. Go Bears.

Visit Peters’ blog for more about her research and travels.

Read more about Peters in ‘Fourth-generation Berkeley student lands prize for water work’ via UC Berkeley NewsCenter.

UC Berkeley Students Head to St. Louis for Clinton Global Initiative University

Blum Center Joins Partnership to Bolster Student Action on Global Poverty

By: Rachel Voss and Javier Kordi

This year, eighteen UC Berkeley students will attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) annual gathering, hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton from April 5th-7th in St. Louis, Missouri.  The conference will include knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities for students committed to tackling the world’s most pressing problems and will feature keynote speakers such as Muhammad Yunus, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jack Dorsey, and Stephen Colbert.

CGI U 2012 Opening Plenary Session: The Power of Public Service
Credit: Adam Schultz / Clinton Global Initiative

Each year, thousands of students from around the world submit applications to CGI-U outlining a “Commitment to Action”—a concrete one-year plan to address a critical challenge in one of five categories: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, or Public Health.  Finalists are invited to the CGI-U gathering, which provides attendees inspiration and guidance.

“The CGI-U conference and community helped me to carry out my commitment to increase access to financial education for microfinance borrowers in Nairobi, Kenya, by providing me with the opportunity to learn from professionals around the world and network with other like-minded student,” emphasized UC Berkeley alumna (’11) and previous CGI-U attendee Lauren Herman. “With the evaluation, leadership and fundraising skills that I gained, I made my commitment to global change a reality.”

CGI U 2012 EDUCATION WORKING SESSION - Public vs. Private: Who Decides and Who Provides?
Credit: Casey Wood / Clinton Global Initiative

The UC Berkeley students invited to the CGI-U conference were selected for their passion, energy, and the strength of their Commitments to Action, which address a wide range of social and environmental challenges.  For example, graduate students Javier Rosa and Todd Duncombe are expanding their “Build My Lab” project within the Tekla Labs initiative, a global on-line community to connect scientists, educators, and hobbyists who design and use home-built laboratory equipment.  Senior Caitlin Francoisse has been invited to present her locally-focused project, “Sexual Health for Youth,” which she started in the women’s section of the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center after receiving the prestigious Strauss Scholars Award in 2012.  Francoisse has committed to expand her project to the male detention center by building the base of Berkeley students volunteering within the program.

In addition to this year’s strong UC Berkeley student participation, the Blum Center for Developing Economies will this year represent UC Berkeley in the inaugural year of the Clinton Global Initiative University Network.  Colleges and universities in this new nationwide partnership will provide support and guidance to their respective students who have made CGI-U Commitments to Action. As CGI-U spokesperson Ragina Arrington explained, “Our hope is that these students will be better equipped to carry out their Commitments to Action, as they will have both more formal, fiscal university support for their projects, as well as greater access to on-campus university mentors who are ready to serve as a resource to them.”

Since 2007, the Blum Center at UC Berkeley has inspired and supported student engagement in issues of global development, aiming to educate and empower the next generation of poverty scholars through curriculum, field practices, mentorship, and partnership initiatives like CGI-U.  “CGI-U grows out of a set of urgent concerns and aspirations which also motivate the Blum Center’s work with Big Ideas@Berkeley, the Global Poverty and Practice Minor, and the Development Impact Lab,” noted Sean Burns, Director of Student Programs at the Blum Center.  Burns feels this new partnership will be an opportunity for the Blum Center to extend its well-known mentorship and networking capabilities to the greater UC Berkeley student community.

Junior Ngan Pham’s CGI-U initiative exemplifies this campus ecosystem of support.  Pham is part of the Global Poverty and Practice Minor and is currently a finalist in the Big Ideas@Berkeley contest. Her project, “ServeFund,” prepares low-income students to be competitive and financially eligible for internships and public service opportunities—experiences that employers highly value in today’s job market.  Pham will attend the CGI-U conference just days after the American Youth Summit in Washington, DC, where she will help the Obama Administration draft a National Young Americans Report.

“We are incredibly proud of the impact Cal students are making through our programs and opportunities like CGI-U.  For us at the Blum Center, the aim is to integrate and align these opportunities so we can boost the impact and significance of our students’ work,” Burns said.

Stay tuned for updates on Build My Lab, ServeFund, and other CGI-U commitments through the Blum Center’s Facebook and Twitter.

Across Institutions, Across Borders: Networks in Poverty Alleviation

Author:
Javier Kordi

On October 10th, the Blum Center received national attention: Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) ventured across the country to meet with the UC Berkeley community. The Blum Center was honored to host Director Shah, as he spent the day engaging with students, meeting faculty and board members, and learning about the latest initiatives in poverty alleviation.

Dr. Shah’s visit marked the first in what will be a continued, symbiotic partnership between the federal agency and the Blum Center. Towards the end of his visit, he delivered a keynote address to an overflowing audience of students, professors, and community members. Dr. Shah praised the center’s focus on “deep analysis and broad engagement… that not only generates new ideas, but also tests and applies real-world solutions.” He noted the uniqueness of the Blum Center’s approach, which combines topdown efforts with empowerment and sustainability from the ground-up.

In his speech, Dr. Shah noted his interest in solutions such as the WE CARE Solar Suitcase and the Cell Scope. With their respective abilities to curb infant mortality and facilitate early disease diagnosis in rural areas, these initiatives are a sampling of the promise of university-level development to help the poor. Dr. Shah explained that the process of interdisciplinary collaboration that birthed these projects now serves as “the model for a network of development laboratories [USAID] is forming across the country.”

The next era in poverty alleviation will be defined by an open-source approach to development that breaks down barriers limiting the availability of the latest innovations. The opensource paradigm holds the key to implementing sustainable and replicable real-world solutions. An example Dr. Shah mentioned was a mobile phone equipped with geographic information system capabilities. Made readily available to the hands of vulnerable populations, this device would allow atrocity victims to record critical information (such as time, place, and photographs) to be used as substantive evidence in international courts.

USAID understands that even the most brilliant technologies are mere tools— without a solid implementation platform, their impacts are limited. For its projects to succeed, an organization must have a fluid ideology that can operate within the varying landscapes and climates of development. This requires a lively discourse on the methods and approaches to development. On university campuses, the conversation is ever-growing, and USAID wants to join in. According to Dr. Shah, USAID aims to spark a dialogue with the millennial generation of activists and scholars emerging from places like UC Berkeley. In pursuit of this goal, USAID has created an online-space called USAID Fall Semester which seeks to invite students to converse, critique, and collaborate with the organization.

Dr. Shah ended his speech with an inspirational call to action— stating that extreme poverty could be reduced by 90% if efforts were accelerated. He then opened the floor to questions, and a lively conversation ensued. It was a day to be remembered for the students and faculty at UC Berkeley. As the Blum Center’s model is replicated and leveraged, with new partnerships across people, institutions, and ideas— a new chapter in the fight against poverty begins.

Growing the Student Innovation Ecosystem: “Big Ideas in a Box”

Author:
Luis Flores

More than 450 undergraduate and graduate students submitted proposals to one of the Big Ideas@Berkeley’s nine contest categories – representing the largest contest to date. With $300,000 in expected awards, winning proposals will receive the critical support and funding that could spread their idea and address social and global challenges. To the benefit of big ideas everywhere, the opportunity to cultivate innovative plans into real-world projects could soon become available to university students around the country.

This year, UC Berkeley students interested in the Big Ideas@Berkeley contest were presented with two new global challenges: (1) develop a proposal that will preserve of promote the protection of individual’s essential rights and (2) design an innovative solution that will safeguard the health of expectant mothers and young children. Kicking  off a dynamic partnership, Big Ideas@Berkeley and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborated to open two new contest categories. The new “Maternal & Children Health” and “Promoting Human Rights” contest categories were inspired by USAID’s “Savings Lives at Birth” and “Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention” challenges. USAID’s initiatives foster a similar level of creativity by allowing groups of all sizes and from all backgrounds to contribute to addressing these pressing issues. Big Ideas has taken problems important to USAID and challenged UC Berkeley students to address them.

In addition to expanding the number of categories in the contest, the Big Ideas team is working to expand the contest to other universities. We’re currently working to develop “Big Ideas in a Box,” explained Jessica Ernandes, a graduate student assistant for the Big Ideas contest. “Our goal is to share the framework and process with other universities so they have the tools that have proven useful for us.”

While still at an early stage of development, this collection of documents will detail everything needed to manage a university-based innovation competition. The idea to replicate this contest was prompted by the recently announced Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN). In partnership with USAID, UC Berkeley is working with six other universities to share and develop technologies and practices needed to collaboratively address global problems. A key piece of this effort is focused on challenging and preparing the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

That’s where Big Ideas@Berkeley comes in. The contest succeeds because it does not simply grant prize money. The contest application process itself is an ecosystem for nurturing social innovation. From the pre-proposal phase, Big Ideas provides guidance, mentorship, and support to applicants, allowing students to grow their ideas during the 8-month long contest. This key feature should be central to any Big Ideas contest replica. “To foster student innovation, you have to know where students need support and what they’d like to get out of a program like Big Ideas,” explained Ernandes. “Listening to them is a necessary first step to ensure that the Big Ideas competition continues to be relevant and impactful as it moves to other campuses.”

The growing focus on university students is encouraging to Alexa Koenig, interim executive director of UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center. A judge for the “Promoting Human Rights” contest category, Koenig believes young people are the best problem solvers. “Students are constantly being exposed to new ideas, whether from their professors, events on and off campus, or their peers, which can contribute significantly to creativity,” she explained.

“Big Ideas in a Box” is only one of many collaborative projects that will come out of the HESN, but it is a significant one. The Big Ideas competition will provide a pipeline of essential interdisciplinary and intergenerational perspectives on how to develop solutions to address social challenges.

It may not be long until students can apply to Big Ideas at universities throughout the country and the world. “In many ways, I think our model can be replicated because it is, at its heart, really simple,” explained Ernandes, “we support and allow students to do what they are great at being passionate, smart, and creative.”

D-Lab: Designing Sustainable Low-Cost Energy Technologies for the Poor


Author:

Christina Gossmann

Giving a man a fish is good. Teaching a man how to fish is better. Yet, fishing is useless without a river. According to Dr. Kurt Kornbluth, the history of development is filled with examples of good intentions with sufficient capital but insufficient preparatory research and little follow-up to devise the most sustainable solutions. To counter such well intentioned by uninformed development work, Kornbluth founded the D-Lab at the University of California, Davis, with support from the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

D-Lab stands for Development through Dialogue, Design and  Dissemination and aims to improve living standards of  low-income households by creating and implementing appropriate, sustainable low-cost technologies. Inventor and educator Amy Smith launched the first D-Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During the developmental stages of the initiative in 2005 Kornbluth, then a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at UC Davis, assisted her Smith during the developmental stages of the initiative in 2005. Since then, MIT’s program has successfully grown to offer sixteen different courses, exploring development, design and social entrepreneurship. Following the success of MIT’s D-Lab, Kornbluth wanted to bring the program to UC Davis; after finishing completed his graduate work and then embarked upon a mission to establish his own D-Lab at UC Davis.

Focusing on issues such as off-grid power, post harvest crop preservation, irrigation, and renewable energy, the D-Lab at UC Davis offers two hands-on courses for graduate and undergraduate students at the intersection of energy and international development. The first course gives an overview of development work around energy, while the second provides students with a platform to design for the energy market. As part of the class, D-Lab students are directly coupled with clients who face a specific problem. They spend ten to twenty weeks working with these clients in different parts of the world—from Zambia and Nigeria to Bangladesh, India and Nicaragua—to offer concrete solutions.

“Students at the D-Lab always work with real problems and real people,” Kornbluth explained in an interview. The students’ designs don’t remain in academia but directly impact people in the field. Clients get answers—students gain real-life experience.

Throughout the process— rainstorming and narrowing ideas and transforming feasible solutions into real pilot projects—sustainability is the number one priority. All projects must take into account what Kornbluth calls the “four lenses of sustainability:” environmental, economic, social, and technical. In two project-review sessions per quarter, practitioners, academics and peers provide students constructive, often hard-edged feedback. Most D- lab students are graduate students from different fields and disciplines, including engineering, economics, international development. This diversity allows students to learn from each other as much as from the process of designing a sustainable energy solution.

While it is crucial to carve out a concrete and substantial project within the time period of the course, some of the more successful solutions have stayed with students beyond their D-Lab experience. One D-Lab graduate used the “SMART light” prototype he had developed in D-Lab as part of his portfolio when applying to a job after graduation. Another student recently received $40,000 from “Start up Chile,” a government- sponsored program designed to draw start-up technology companies to the country, to further his efforts in bringing safe water to Chile.

Despite the successes, Kornbluth humbly admits that, as in any field, not all projects work out great. “In D-lab Maybe 25% are a total flop, 25% will be mediocre and about 50% are really good,” Kornbluth said.

But those innovators who are successful create real impact—especially when they get together. The UC Davis D-Lab is part of the International Development Design Summit (IDDS) network. Once a year, 60 to 80 practitioners from around the world assemble for a different kind of academic conference. Under the banner of co-creation, students, teachers, professors, economists, engineers, mechanics, doctors, farmers and community organizers present technology and enterprise prototypes instead of academic papers. Meeting in Kumasi, Ghana, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2012, IDDS leaders intend to launch additional locally organized summits in 2013. The goal is to turn these meetings into regular, university-based innovation hubs to exchange technology ideas.

Feasible, applicable and replicable solutions reach far, but networks are also of great importance. Since the beginning, UC Davis and MIT have been collaborating in developing the D-Lab curriculum, and they are looking for other universities to adopt the D-Lab model. “D-Lab is really about new technologies, and working with them in context. But it’s also about curriculum and it’s about networks,” Kornbluth explained.

In a university consortium with MIT, the D-Lab has just become part of a greater, brand-new network: the USAID Higher Education Solutions Network that was launched on November 9th 2012. In this 5-year partnership with seven top U.S. and foreign universities (among them, UC Berkeley), this initiative will harness the best ideas to fight poverty through development laboratories similar to the D-Lab. If this new generation of development professionals learns how to research, design, test and scale up effective development technologies, there is reason to hope that there will be no more fishing without water in international development.

Curious about the Higher Education Solutions Network and the new partnership between USAID and UC Berkeley? Read “Big Ideas In a Box” by Luis Flores for more information.

Gram Power

Author:
Kate Lyons

Gram Power, a company incorporated in 2012 by campus graduates Yashraj Khaitan and Jacob Dickinson, is expanding its reach with help from the Blum Center and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The company’s mission is to provide affordable electricity to thousands of individuals who have restricted access to power in rural India.

Areas with little access electricity rely on kerosene — a dangerous and unhealthy power source. Gram Power offers communities “pay as you go” electricity. It is a system of micro-payments based on the successful model of prepaid cellular phones connections by Indian telecommunications companies. This “pay as you go” system is designed for low-income workers who earn a daily wage, providing them with access to green energy without a large up-front investment.

Yashraj Khaitan graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from UC Berkley in 2011. During his time as an  ndergraduate, Khaitan was involved with solar cell research at Lawrence NationalLabs and helped found the UC Berkeley chapter of Engineers  without Borders.

Jacob Dickinson, also a graduate of the EECS department, is the head of Gram Power’s technical development. As an undergraduate, Dickinson led the UC Berkeley’s Solar Car Team’s electrical division.

The two first met at a training session for UC Berkeley’s Solar Car team in early 2010, where they discussed Khaitan’s experience participating in grassroots projects with villagers in rural Rajasthan; a large desert state located West of New Delhi. It was from this experience that Khaitan’s idea to develop a sustainable electricity project arose. Upon hearing the pitch, Dickinson’s interests were enlivened, and he became immediately involved with the project, developing technology and seeking product validation.

“I first understood their needs, evaluated current solutions, decided on a price point that would be affordable and then started concept design,” Khaitan said.

Gram Power’s smart stackable battery, called an MPower, is a portable storage system made up of a battery and “smart power” conditioning circuitry. Small and lightweight, MPower fulfills Gram Power’s two main objectives – creating a power source that is flexible (can be used for powering more than lighting) and energy efficient. By reducing power consumption with efficient green technology, Gram Power enhances the individual’s investment and contributes to a cleaner environment.

The MPowers can be charged from a conventional power grid, a micro grid, solar panels or a bicycle dynamo. A fully charged MPower can charge a cell phone and provide power for lamps and fans; a fully charged stacked battery can power a television or computer. Gram Power believes its energy solution will impact communities’ light and communication capability, resulting in more education, work productivity and higher earning potential. The power is renewable and clean, providing environmental and health benefits, while Gram Power’s business model encourages local economic growth by employing individuals from each community as Area Sales Managers.

“Our main concern was affordability and utility. We wanted to design something that provided high utility at the right price,” Khaitan said.

Development and funding of the project began at UC Berkeley. After discussing his ideas with professor of Computer Science Dr. Eric Brewer in 2010, Khaitan began working with Dr. Brewer and the UC Berkeley research group TIER (Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions). TIER designs and deploys new technology that helps addresses a particular region’s environmental, political and/or economic concerns with innovative hardware and software infrastructure.

In 2011, Khaitan and Dickinson decided to enter Gram Power into Big Ideas @ Berkeley, an annual, campuswide prize competition that provides funding, support and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams with innovative ideas. Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld, former Professor Emeritus of Physics at UC Berkeley and Chairman of the California Energy Commission judged the competition, and selected Gram Power for First Place in the Energy Efficient Technologies category. Gram Power was provided seed funding from the Arthur H. Rosenfeld Fund for Global Sustainable Development and the UC Berkeley Blum Center for Developing Economies.

“Apart from providing significant financial support to deploy our systems in the field in India, Big Ideas helped us think through our business model thoroughly,” Khaitan said. “The feedback and advice repeatedly made us aware that technology is not the most important thing – creating affordable and sustainable access is.”

With the support and advice of the Blum Center and the Arthur H. Rosenfeld Fund, Gram Power emerged in Rajasthan, India. To continue growth, Gram Power entered and won the LAUNCH: Energy Challenge, an initiative founded by USAID and its partners in 2011. The LAUNCH program identifies groundbreaking innovations in sustainable and accessible energy solutions and provides them with financial resources and project guidance.

“LAUNCH helped us launch!” Khaitan exclaimed. “It got us our first round of angel funding, helped us expand our network of advisors to leading figures in this sector from around the world… they worked very closely with us for 6 months after the event to help create access to the people and resources we needed to achieve our long and short term goals.”

Gram Power is now focusing on smart microgrids– localized electricity production centers that are smaller and more efficient. In May 2012, Gram Power launched India’s first smart microgrid in Rajasthan with great success, and are currently planning with the local Rajasthan government and the Central Government of India to increase microgrid deployments. They are simultaneously working with the Blum Center, USAID, the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), and TIER to rehabilitate 80 existing solar microgrids in Rajasthan. During the microgrid restoration, Gram Power and TIER will conduct extensive research evaluating different technologies and business models, in pursuit of a refined, sustainable method to provide reliable power to rural communities.

By the end of 2012, Gram Power plans to expand MPower units and microgrids to other states in India such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar.

Gram Power’s current projects are successfully providing reliable and affordable electricity for thousands of people, and Khaitan hopes to reach millions in the future. “We’re looking to continue deploying our smart grid system on existing microgrids,” Khaitan said. “Eventually tackling the existing Photo Credit: Gram Power national grid in India.”

Blum Center Students Attend Clinton Global Initiative University

Eight students from the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley will participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) hosted at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. starting on March 30th. All are part of the Blum Center’s “Global Poverty and Practice Minor,” the largest undergraduate minor on the Berkeley campus.

Students are selected to attend CGI-U based upon the quality of their “Commitment to Action” – a specific plan of action that addresses a pressing challenge — on their campus, in their local community, or across the world. Three of the Blum Center students have also been honored by an invitation to present their action plans to the audience.
Presenting their work will be:

Lauren Herman, a recent Cal graduate who majored in Peace and Conflict Studies, made a commitment to create informational material for Kenyan borrowers who are vulnerable to predatory lending. An attendee at last year’s CGI U, she will return this year to share the progress she’s made since last year’s commitment. Her work aims at helping Kenyan borrowers, who are often unaware of the loan conditions and their rights as consumers. To address this problem, Lauren has been working on a consumer education manual. This new resource will assist clients in making informed decisions about their participation in microfinance. It will be distributed in collaboration with consumer advocacy groups and microcredit borrowers in Nairobi.

Komal Ahmad, a fourth year student majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and Jacquelyn Hoffman, a fourth year student majoring in Gender and Women’s studies, made a commitment to addressing inequitable distribution and injustice in the food system. Their organization, Bare Abundance (BA), collects excess food from on-campus dining halls and restaurants to redistribute to those who don’t have healthy food. They have developed an after-school program operating in Oakland and staffed by current UC Berkeley student volunteers. School children learn about the importance of a healthy lifestyle through BA’s experiential method, where participants prepare and consume the healthy food collected through the BA network. Komal and Jacquelyn aim to expand their afterschool program and hope to create food redistribution initiatives on other college campuses.

Attending for the first time will be:

Stephanie Ullrich, a fourth year student with a double major in Peace and Conflict Studies and Media Studies & Rebecca Peters, a third year student majoring in Society and Environment , made a commitment to a 3-part water initiative. They will create a Water Sustainability, Science, and Development minor at UC Berkeley to educate students on global hydro-politics, health and sanitation; they will expand membership in the Berkeley Water Group, an interdisciplinary student group that addresses problems related to water, sanitation, and hygiene; and they will create an academic water research journal and social marketing campaign to improve outreach.

Joanna Chen, a third year student majoring in Urban Studies, made a commitment to work with local NGOs to preserve the ecology of rural China. She will offer workshops on the environmental rights of villagers in rural areas. By engaging marginalized groups in education about their rights to a safe environment, Joanna hopes to spur local activism and encourage policy reforms that will protect the vulnerable environments of China.

Thuy Ngan Pham, a third year student majoring in Molecular Toxicology, made a commitment to develop a network to raise awareness and gather funding for student-run service organizations. SAnoda, a citizen organization, will develop an online database to connect students and faculty to the needs of the UC Berkeley service community. By linking student initiatives to their much-needed funding, SAnoda aims to increase the efficacy and frequency of social action.

Bernadette Rabuy, a second year student majoring in Political Economy, made a commitment to improve access to healthcare for villagers in Vadamanappakkam, India. Working with Project RISHI (Rural India Social and Health Improvement), she will help implement ‘RISHI Plug-Ins’— informational public service announcements meant to connect households with the self-help services of the village.

About the Blum Center for Developing Economies: Propelled by the energy and talent of faculty and students committed to helping the nearly three billion people who live on less than two dollars a day, the Blum Center is focused on finding solutions to the most pressing needs of the poor. Blum Center innovation teams are working to deliver safe water and sanitation solutions in eight countries; life-saving mobile services throughout Africa and Asia; and new energy technologies that emphasize efficiency while reducing negative environmental impacts. The Center’s Global Poverty & Practice minor is the largest undergraduate minor on campus, giving students the knowledge and real-world experience to become dynamic participants in the fight against poverty. In addition to choosing from a wide variety of new courses, students participate directly in poverty alleviation efforts in over fifty developing countries.

Blum Center for Developing Economies—March 2012 Newsletter

In IAS 120, Students of the GPP Minor Learn the Skills to Spread Global Awareness

By Luis Flores

“It’s a practical course,” explained Royce Chang about professor Tara Graham’s Field Reporting in the Digital Age: Using Media Tools for Social Justice. “I don’t think we get enough of that here at Berkeley.”

Professor Graham’s course trains students in Berkeley’s Global Poverty and Practice minor to use the Internet and social media as tools for global engagement. The course is an all-inone tool kit for global awareness.

Last year, students received training in everything from film, photography and creative writing to web design. “The course was valuable because it trains you to look for things and to look for the best and most ethical way to go about acquiring material,” remarked Royce. Professor Graham is teaching the class again this semester.
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Royce, a history major concentrating on ancient Greece and Rome, is currently working on developing media content for One World Futbol at Berkeley, an NGO that is working to spread global and community awareness among local K-8 students through sports. He continues to believe that no matter the initiative, the spread of awareness is a vital part of enacting positive change. To this goal, online media is a valuable tool.

Ryan Silsbee, another of professor Graham’s students last year, has since graduated and is completing a four-month organic agriculture apprenticeship with Real Time Farms in Hawaii. The importance of the media skills learned in professor Graham’s class are obvious by looking at his website: a clean site with vivid photographs, concise, creatively written updates and interactive maps and guides. His site allows readers to engage with his mission of promoting healthy and organic agriculture. “Spreading information and just getting people interested in where their food comes from and how it is grown is the first step,” Ryan said.

The theoretical courses in the GPP minor set Ryan on a path to change American agriculture, and Professor Graham’s course gave him the tools to start making those changes. “I want people to step out of their busy lives, take a look at agriculture in the United States and decide for themselves if they think something should be changed,” he explained.

Many of professor Graham’s students, like Danika Kehlet, were first able to put these skills to use during their summer practice initiatives. Armed with a small flipcam, Danika set out to chronicle her work promoting female development in Quito, Ecuador. Her lively blog illustrates her experience through the use of videos, photo collages and engaging blog entries.

This semester, Professor Graham is training a new group of GPP students in a similar course: Using Media Tools for Global Poverty Action. Practical courses like these are training the next generation of tech-savvy global citizens. Exposure to the development possibilities of social media is empowering and inspiring students.

“It is very inspiring to know that something I create, write, photograph, film, or document can change the way people view their world,” Ryan said. “If enough people see it, you can change society.”

World Day of Social Justice

by Brittany Schell

February 20th marked the annual World Day of Social Justice. “Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations,” states the website of the United Nations. “We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”

In 2007, the UN General Assembly declared February 20th of each year the “World Day of Social Justice,” to recognize groups around the world working to fight poverty and promote gender equality, access to health care and other initiatives that advance development and human dignity.
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Here at the Blum Center, our students and faculty work actively toward these goals. Each year, we offer fellowships to students studying in the Global Poverty and Practices minor at UC Berkeley to help fund their summer fieldwork experiences.

Fieldwork has ranged from supporting tenants’ rights in New York City to providing access to clean water in India; improving child nutrition in Guatemala and addressing poverty in Vietnam; working with opium addicts in Afghanistan and HIV/AIDS prevention work in Ghana; and even building community bread ovens in Tanzania. Our students have helped advance the foundation of social justice through hands-on work, making concrete differences in communities across the world.

Last summer, 40 students received fellowships from the Blum Center. Check out the map to see the wide range of countries where our fellows volunteered their time and energy.

Big Ideas @ Berkeley 2011 Spotlight: BareAbundance

By Javier Kordi

Upon entering Berkeley’s all-you-caneat dining halls, students undergo a strange biological transformation: their eyes seem to swell, far exceeding the size of their stomachs. Seven servings later, a tray full of half eaten entrées stares back at their defeated gazes before getting disposed of in the garbage. This propensity to waste is not limited to university dining halls. Every day, 260 million pounds of food are wasted while 50 million Americans go hungry. Witnessing this incongruity first hand, Global Poverty and Practice students Komal Ahmad, majoring in International Health and Development, and Jacquelyn Hoffman, majoring in Gender and Women’s studies, created BareAbundance—an organization that addresses the inequitable food distribution that causes millions of Americans to suffer every day.

When food is neither consumed nor sold, or is nearing its expiration date, the organization sweeps in to intervene before it is tossed into a landfill. Receiving excess healthy food from a wide network of sources, BareAbundance redistributes this excess to people in need. Last year, BareAbundance signed a contract with Cal Dining, securing the excess foods from four dining halls and 10 on-campus cafes and restaurants. Currently, this food is being delivered
to an afterschool program at New Highland School in East Oakland, where 70 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch.
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Komal, one of the founders of BareAbundance, explains that the after-school program is about more than providing food; it’s also about food education. For a community lacking access to farmers’ markets, the nutritional model of the food pyramid is sometimes hard to meet. In addition to providing much-needed sustenance, the after-school program teaches “food driven values through an experiential method where [the students] consume and cook the food.”

Take one of the program’s three-day examples: children were first given donuts and asked to write about how they felt in their journals. Initially abounding with energy, the children reported stomachaches and lethargic feelings a few hours later. A similar feeling was reported the next day when the kids ate pieces of cake. On the final day, the children were given a luscious piece of fruit. They wrote in their journals that, not only did it taste good, but it also provided sustained energy without a sugar crash. This technique trains children to recognize the importance of a healthy diet through direct engagement.

Last year, BareAbundance was selected as a winner of Big Ideas @ Berkeley, a campus-wide innovation competition managed by the Blum Center. A recipient of the Social Justice and Community Engagement award, the organization received funding for transportation, food storage, website creation and publicity, allowing it to grow dramatically. Komal humbly described how the Big Ideas @ Berkeley grant “legitimized our organization…our idea.” It compelled the founders to make their model of food redistribution a reality: as Komal said, it was “both a pat on the back and a kick in the ass.” In the future, Komal hopes to establish a nationwide food recovery network to save and distribute excess food from college campuses around the country.

ECAR Safe Water Initiative: A New Solution to an Old Problem

By Javier Kordi

Abandoned arsenic water filters litter the village of Amirabad, India like archaic ruins. For years, the community has seen foreigners come and go, bringing the promise of clean water and leaving behind hollow philanthropic gestures. Arseniccontaminated ground waters have created the largest mass poisoning in human history. In Bangladesh alone, 40 million people are exposed to arsenic through their tube wells. From Latin America to Asia, arsenic-laden water has plagued the lives of millions.

Working in conjunction with the Blum Center for Developing Economies and the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, professor Susan Addy and her team of scientists have brought something new to the water table: a sustainable model for water purity—the Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation project (ECAR).

ECAR differs from its predecessors in its mode of arsenic extraction. The elusive arsenic particles cannot be removed with traditional filtration—they will not settle or get retained. ECAR works by literally grabbing these particles and dragging them to the bottom of a water basin, separating them from the clean H2O. It is a simple procedure.
newsletter-2012-03-ecar
First, a steel plate is placed into a tub of water. Then an electrical current is passed through the steel, creating millions of rust particles. As the rust
expands, it electrochemically binds to arsenic. The rust-bonded arsenic settles to the bottom of the basin and the final step—adding Alum, a water
coagulant—allows the amalgamation and separation of the poison. The 100 liter prototype produced clean water that was indistinguishable from bottled water, using only as much energy as a CFL light bulb.

But even the most brilliant of technologies cannot succeed if they are not embraced and maintained by the local community. “The technology is maybe 20 percent of the problem,” professor Addy said. “The social situation, making it work sustainably, is maybe 80 percent of the problem.” Often times, water projects fail because they are a one-time gift from a donor. Working with financial institutions, a social marketing firm and local governments, the ECAR project will make the delivery of clean water part of the community’s livelihood. The product of ECAR (clean water) will become a good, to be sold and profited from in an open market, thus creating an economic incentive for continued production.

Professor Addy explained the plan for this year: “We’ve got two pilot projects planned this year that will serve water to about 2,500 students, maybe one to two liters per day, operating for several months.” As children learn about water safety in their classrooms, the neighboring water plant will transform the school into a community center—a nexus for health and education. Ultimately, the plant will provide jobs for the local people. While providing free water to children, the excess that is created can be sold to the community. ECAR aims to become a self-sustaining water plant, both economically and technologically. Because the government has an interest in increasing student enrollment, professor Addy believes there is potential for partnering with India’s Ministry of Education to further subsidize the project.

At the end of February, two scientists, Christopher Orr and Siva Rama Satyam, will depart from Berkeley to spend six months in India testing out the new 500 liter prototype. After working with a manufacturer in Mumbai, the prototype will be shipped to Jadavpur University in Kolkata for a few months of testing. If all goes well, this prototype will be moved to the school in Amirabad, India, where it will provide six months of free water to local school children. According to Sivarama, local governments and communities are eager to adopt the technology, particularly after the success of the initial model. With continued successes, the full implementation of ECAR and the cleansing of the water table will soon be a reality.

Design for Sustainable Communities Course

By Brittany Schell

Professor Addy also teaches a course at UC Berkeley, Design for Sustainable Communities. The class gives students hands-on experience in the design and implementation of projects meant to improve the sustainability of communities in developing countries.

The students work in teams throughout the semester on practical projects, with guidance from professor Addy and other experts. The class, a mix of graduate and undergraduate students from various majors at Berkeley, meets twice a week to discuss their own projects as well as explore the methods of successful innovators.

“One of the most pressing challenges of the new century is to harness the extraordinary force of technological innovation…and make its benefits accessible and
meaningful for all humanity,” professor Addy said to begin class, quoting former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Cost effective, creative solutions to problems like unemployment and the lack of water and electricity in villages—like professor Addy’s ECAR water initiative—provide a new area of opportunities for businesses and social entrepreneurs. It’s innovation for the 90 percent, she told her students.

Pakistan and the U.S. – Challenges and Opportunities

by Luis Flores

Berkeley – The Center for South Asia Studies, in conjunction with the Blum Center for Developing Economies, hosted current Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani for a discussion on the challenges and opportunities in U.S. and Pakistan relations. Richard C. Blum, a personal friend of the ambassador, introduced Haqqani. “We have probably never had a better ambassador to try and manage what is obviously an interesting and difficult relationship,” said Blum. “To the extent we make progress, the gentleman deserves some credit.” Haqqani, also a scholar and a journalist, led a deeply sobering and academic discussion on the current state of U.S.-Pakistan relations.

“I’ve been ambassador for three and a half years and have only dealt with 364 crisis so far,” joked Haqqani, acknowledging the difficult relationship between the two nations early in his lecture.

Haqqani began by explaining the mutually beneficial relationship between the two governments that began in the 1940s. The ambassador explained that following the Pakistani independence in 1947, the new state was looking for a major supporter while the United States was in search of allies near the Soviet Union. The subsequent mistrust between the two allies is a result of what Haqqani dubbed “parallel narratives.” While the Pakistani narrative of the alliance is one of betrayal and abandonment, the American narrative is one of mistrust and corruption. “The real task of diplomacy is to get people to tamper down their anger and find solutions to the problem,” noted Haqqani.

The Ambassador then drew a connection between the two nation’s historic partnerships during the Cold War to the current one after 10 years of operations in Afghanistan. Haqqani asserted that Pakistan and the United States share the common interest of a stable Afghanistan but differ greatly on strategy. “We think the Americans would benefit more from reconciling various elements within Afghan society, including religious elements that are represented by a segment of the Taliban, not because people like me agree with their world view, but because it’s a part of their society,” explained Haqqani. “Afghans are not going to behave like the 51st state of the American union anytime soon.”

Haqqani’s planned remarks were purposefully brief in order to allow for many audience questions. Almost immediately, a student questioned Pakistan’s own democratic legitimacy. “I think what America leaders seek in Pakistan, which is full and complete democratic rule will come about as our institutions become more assertive and strong,” answered Haqqani, clearly expecting the question. “It’s an evolutionary democracy, not one that will happen overnight.”

Quickly following up on the audience’s concerns over democracy were questions on Pakistan’s non- secular education system. Again, the Ambassador, revealing pragmatic tendencies, stressed the importance of reform as a process. “The damage has already been done,” said Haqqani of those educated in the old system, “they will not change their minds just because a new government has been elected.” The Ambassador likened social progress in Pakistan to the long process of African-American equality in the United States. “[New governments] are moving Pakistan in a way in which the exclusive, hard-lined, narrow interpretation of faith will no longer be the dominant view in the country…Over time, over time,” said Haqqani, reiterating his stress on slow progressive reform.

Questions were often difficult and at times reflective of the American narrative explained by Haqqani. Nevertheless, the Ambassador remained calm, academic and optimistic. “This is a difficult relationship, but it is not yet a broken relationship,” said Haqqani. He closed his lecture by restating something he says to all his American audiences. “America is a great nation, they do a lot of things very well but the two things they don’t do well are patience and history… in the case of Pakistan you need to have patience and you need to understand the insecurities that come from history,” closed Haqqani, surely provoking deep reflection in the audience.

“Do Good, Be Kind, Have Fun”: Erica Stone and the American Himalayan Foundation Talk About their Experiences Running an NGO

by Luis Flores

Berkeley – “We may sound impressive and like a big deal today,” joked Richard C. Blum, closing a presentation by the staff of the American Himalayan Foundation, “but we started with an idea.”

As part of the Global Poverty and Practice Lecture Series, the Blum Center for Developing Economies was delighted to host Erica Stone, President of the American Himalayan Foundation, who shared her experience as a leader of a major non-profit organization in a presentation entitled, “Do Good, Be Kind, Have Fun: What it’s like to Run an NGO and What it Takes to Create Positive Change.” Stone, also a 5th degree black belt, a former chef at Chez Panisse, and a UC Berkeley graduate, began by explaining the inherent complexity of running an NGO. “I balance the reality on the ground, which is messy… with taking care of the people that make our work possible: our donors” she explained. The AHF, which operates in three relatively unstable countries, manages to improve the lives of 300,000 people by remaining close to the communities they support. “We always work with local partners,” explained Stone. “We don’t come in and say ‘we know what you need’… they tell us.”

Joining Stone in her presentation were AHF Vice President Norbu Tenzing, Field Director Bruce Moore, and Program Director Eileen Moncoeur. Each explained their experience working for the AHF and shared a project of particular interest to them.

Do Good, Be Kind, Have Fun
American Himalayn Foundation representatives (L-R: Tenzing Norbu, Erica Stone, Eileen Moncoeur, and Bruce Moore

Stone was especially proud to discuss the foundation’s “Stop Girl Trafficking” initiative. On average, 15,000 girls from the poorest regions of Nepal are trafficked and nearly 80 percent of them contract HIV. “Why are girls trafficked?” asked Stone rhetorically. “Three reasons: poverty, poverty, and poverty!” The American Himalayan Foundation representatives (L-R): Tenzing Norbu, Erica Stone, Eileen Moncoeur and Bruce Moore.

AHF is preventing young girls from being trafficked by funding primary education for the girls. The skills they develop give them value in the eyes of their communities along with the confidence to decide their own futures. Starting 12 years ago with only 50 girls, the AHF now funds the education of 8,500 girls with an impeccable success rate. “We have not lost one girl, not one girl, since we started this program,” Stone proudly affirmed.

Program Director Eileen Moncoeur shared the success of the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children in Nepal. The fate of disabled children in Nepal is tragic. “If they can’t function, they can’t go to school, they can’t work in the fields, they can’t help at home, many of them are ostracized… these kids really live lives of isolation and in many cases humiliation,” explained Moncoeur. After nearly 20 years of working with the visionary Dr. Ashok Banskoa, the AHF has helped fund the treatment of 38,000 patients.

While impressed by the organization’s achievements, their approach to providing aid also resonated with the audience. “I think there are a lot of hard-chair academics that sort of sit here and talk about what people in other places should do and I found it really inspiring that they do connect with Nepal and talk to the local peoples,” reflected Tanay Kothari, a freshman interested in the Global Poverty and Practice minor.

The curious audience of students, faculty, and staff was clearly motivated by the achievements of the AHF. Veronica Chin, a fifth-year double major in Applied Mathematics and Chinese, attended the lecture after enrolling in a course with Professor Ananya Roy. She was inspired by Richard C. Blum’s challenge: “don’t be afraid to dream, don’t be afraid to start something new.” Veronica, even with job offers lined up, is determined to work with NGOs. She is even considering deferring her job offers to get involved now.

The next lecture in the Global Poverty and Practice Series, scheduled for October 24, will feature a panel discussion on “Microfinance: Poverty, Profits and Promises” led by Blum Center Education Director Ananya Roy. This panel will examine current microfinance strategies and debate their effectiveness in addressing the challenges of poverty.

Ananya Roy Named the Blum Center Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty and Practice

Berkeley – Dr. Ananya Roy, Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning has been appointed as the inaugural chairholder of the Blum Center Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty and Practice. This position was made possible by a $1.5 million anonymous gift, along with a matching gift from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, given as part of Berkeley’s Hewlett Challenge.

Dr. Ananya Roy, Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Education Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies
Dr. Ananya Roy, Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Education Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies
Roy currently oversees the education program for the Blum Center for Developing Economies which provides students with insight into the patterns of poverty and different forms of poverty alleviation. In her capacity as Blum Center Education Director, Roy has overseen the development of the highly popular undergraduate minor degree program in Global Poverty and Practice (GPP). The GPP minor, established in 2006, is now the largest minor on campus with over 400 students currently enrolled.

The chairholder appointment will allow Roy to continue making major and sustained contributions to the educational program and curriculum of the Blum Center, especially for the Global Poverty and Practice minor program. Additionally, she will focus on the integration and continued development of graduate programs into the Blum Center’s educational portfolio and on developing collaborations with faculty across the Berkeley campus whose teaching and research are focused on poverty alleviation.

In announcing the selection, Blum Center Faculty Director and College of Engineering Dean Shankar Sastry noted that she was the ideal selection. “Ananya has inspired students from across the campus to think about life in a much larger global context. She has helped both undergraduates and graduate students realize the role they can play in addressing some of the world’s most critical issues and empowered countless students to be a force for positive change.” Roy’s five year appointment as Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty and Practice will run through June 30, 2016.

In 2006, Roy was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor UC Berkeley bestows on its faculty. Also in 2006, Roy was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Mentors award, a recognition bestowed by the Graduate Assembly of the University of California at Berkeley. In 2008, Roy was the recipient of the Golden Apple Teaching award, the only teaching award given by the student body. Most recently, she was named 2009 California Professor of the Year by the CASE/ Carnegie Foundation.

Dr. Ananya Roy, Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Education Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

About the Hewlett Foundation Challenge: The $1.5 million in matching funds from the Hewlett Foundation is part of a $113 million Hewlett grant to provide UC Berkeley with a major new source of endowment funds to attract and support world-class faculty and graduate students and to allow the campus to compete with the nation’s best private schools. The Hewlett challenge grant will match dollar-for-dollar other private donations to UC Berkeley for the Hewlett chairs, and the ultimate result will be $220 million in new endowment funds for the campus.

About the Blum Center: The Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley links world-class faculty, inspiring new curriculum, and innovative technologies, services and business models to create real-world solutions for developing economies. The Center educates students, builds partnerships, and rigorously evaluates innovations in order to create scalable and sustainable contributions toward the alleviation of poverty. For more information on the Blum Center and its programs please refer to its website: http://blumcenter.berkeley.edu/, or contact them via email: blumcenter@berkeley.edu.

Blum Center Well Represented at 2011 Clinton Global Initiative University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

President Clinton addresses CGIU delegates. – Lisa Veliz, 2010

UC Berkeley | March 29, 2011 – The Blum Center for Developing Economies and its Global Poverty & Practice Minor will be well represented at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) hosted at the University of California, San Diego later this week (April 1-3).

Education Director, Professor Ananya Roy, will participate in a panel entitled “Seeking Shelter: The Power of Safe and Affordable Housing.” She will join other experts to discuss the relationship between housing and poverty, highlighting smart housing projects that are addressing the shelter needs of the poor while also taking into account both social and environmental needs. Roy will also hold “Office Hours” a new innovation for the annual CGI-U meeting, that allows student delegates from across the country to conduct more in-depth conversations with panel experts.

Roy, who chairs the Blum Center sponsored Global Poverty and Practice Minor, will be joined by thirteen students from UC Berkeley who were chosen by the Clinton Foundation to attend the event.

To be selected to attend CGI-U, a student must develop a “Commitment to Action.” These commitments are specific plans to address a pressing challenge on campus, in the local community, or across the world. Students from UC Berkeley have made commitments in seven different countries on four continents to address the global challenges CGI-U has identified — Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Education, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.

Examples of these commitments include:

Education:

Melissa Barker, a fourth year Interdisciplinary Field Studies student, has committed to help make University education more accessible to under-represented and low income student parents, by working on advocacy efforts aimed at increasing affordable child care options.

Akil Mehta, a fourth year Molecular and Cell Biology student, will work with forty disadvantaged youth in Orissa, India to develop and deliver science and mathematics curriculum from the Indian Institute of Technology using desktop computers and e-notebook software.

Sana Naeem, a fourth year Near Eastern Studies and Political Science student, will recruit and train mentors for Think College Now, a Title I elementary school in Oakland, CA.

Peace and Human Rights:

Huda Adem, a fourth year Interdisciplinary Field Studies student, will develop and deliver first aid courses to displaced Eritrean refuges in Kasala, Sudan.

Poverty Alleviation:

Lauren Herman, a fifth year Peace and Conflict Studies student, will build on her previous work in rural Kenya to create and deliver microcredit and financial literacy program for fifty women in urban Kenya.

Jacquelyn Hoffman, a third year Gender and Women’s Studies student, will develop Cal Community Kitchen to bring Berkeley students together to create nutritional boxed meals for low-income families using consumable left over foods from local restaurants.

Public Health

Preeya Desai, a third year Nutritional Science student, committed to developing a Kids Outreach Program, an afterschool program that introduces nutritional education and opportunities for physical activity in San Francisco, CA.

Tsung Mou, a fourth year Molecular and Cell Biology student, will work with medical students in Solola, Guatemala to establish a program that encourages and facilitates an internal flow of Guatemalan health care professionals to serve rural and low-income communities.

Tuyen Nguyen, a third year Public Health student, will address issues of dental health in Kathmandu, Nepal by developing a community health worker and tooth care distribution program.

Melanie Silvis, a fourth year Molecular and Cell Biology student, will work with low-income Asian American communities in the Bay Area to provide screening, positive patient support and outreach for the Hepatitis B Project.

CalSolAgua Finalist in Unreasonable Institute Competition 2011!

CalSolAgua, a project that was born in professor Ashok Gadgill’s “Design for Sustainable Communities” class and which received some initial funding from the Blum Center, has been chosen as a finalist for the 2011 Unreasonable Institute competition. In order to win the competition, the project will need to be one of the first teams to raise $8,000 using the online donation portal.

Visit the Unreasonable Institute to find out more about CalSolAgua and what you can do to help this local project win the competition!

Maryanne McCormick Appointed Executive Director of the Blum Center

by Rachel Shafer

The Blum Center for Developing Economies announced the appointment of Maryanne McCormick as its Executive Director. She will be responsible for leadership, strategic direction, and all operations for the multidisciplinary education and research center.

“It is my great privilege to be a part of the Blum Center,” says McCormick, who joined the Center in March 2008 as development director. “I look forward to continuing to work with our trustees to support our amazing students and faculty who are committed to helping the nearly three billion people who live on less than two dollars a day.”

Prior to joining the Blum Center, McCormick served as associate director of outreach for the UC Berkeley Law School, where she retains an appointment. Before moving to California, she spent over a decade in Washington, D.C., working at the intersection of technology and public policy. She holds an M.B.A. and J.D. and is a member of the California bar.
“Maryanne has proven to be a remarkably effective leader and thoughtful manager during her tenure at the Blum Center, with a dedication to our cause that is unrelenting,” says Richard Blum, founder and trustee. “We’re all thrilled with this appointment.”

The Blum Center for Developing Economies links world-class faculty, inspiring new curriculum, and innovative technologies, services and business models to create real-world solutions for developing economies. As a thriving partnership of UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, UC Davis and UC San Francisco, Blum Center innovation teams are working to deliver safe water and sanitation solutions in eight countries; life-saving mobile services throughout Africa and Asia; and new energy technologies that emphasize efficiency while reducing negative environmental impacts. The Center’s Global Poverty and Practice undergraduate academic minor is now the largest minor on campus, with nearly 400 students currently enrolled and 230 alumni. The Minor explores the ethics of global citizenship and the role that UC Berkeley undergraduates play in understanding and addressing some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. Students from a wide variety of disciplines undertake the Minor, to complement Majors ranging from Economics to Engineering to Public Health. Students take newly developed courses and participate directly in poverty alleviation efforts in over 50 countries.

“I can’t think of a better person to serve as the Center’s Executive Director,” says S. Shankar Sastry, the Blum Center faculty director and dean of the College of Engineering. “I look forward to continuing to work with Maryanne as we execute the center’s mission of cultivating unique and highly effective educational programs and innovation initiatives to alleviate poverty.”

For more information please see http://blumcenter.berkeley.edu/

Public Health 112: Global Health Webcast

Interested in Global Health? Hoping to take Public Health 112: Global Health this semester?

Sponsored by the Blum Center for Developing Economies and led by Professors Arthur Reingold and Suneeta Krishnan, this new course allows students to engage in various aspects of global health through interactive lectures by elite professors from Berkeley and other top tier universities. Students will have the opportunity to hear about the work that Nobel Laureates, scientists in the field, professors, and activists are currently engaged in within this broad arena of study via webcast twice a week: Tuesday and Thursdays from 12:00-1:30pm.

This course allows students to relate the more theoretical components of poverty and health, as these professionals share their wealth of knowledge and applications of such information, through interventions, to real life situations. This course is supplemented with a variety of lecturers who represent the departments of Public Health, City and Regional Planning, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Global Environmental Health and Population and Family Planning. Some featured guest speakers include Kirk Smith, Eric Stover, Jason Corburn, Eva Harris, Malcolm Potts and Lia Fernald.

For access to complete lectures, visit:
http://webcast.berkeley.edu/course_details_new.php?seriesid=2010-B-75595&semesterid=2010-B

UCTV: Feature on the Global Poverty & Practice Minor

The Global Poverty & Practice Minor is the largest Minor on the UC Berkeley campus, giving students the knowledge and real-world experience to become dynamic participants in the fight against poverty. Students take a variety of courses and participate directly in poverty intervention efforts around the world, allowing them to connect the theories and practice of global poverty alleviation. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to undertake the Minor and investigate the ways in which the requirements supplement their major field of study.

For Information about requirements for the minor, visit the Minor Requirements Page

or view the GPP Minor brochure.

Practice

The signature element of the minor is a practice experience, in which students work either locally or internationally for a minimum of 5 weeks to make a meaningful contribution to an organization and/or community. For more information about the Practice Experience visit the Practice Experience Page.

Read about some current student’s practice experiences here and see where students have completed their practice experiences below:


View GPP Minor Practice in a larger map

Declaring the Minor

Students wishing to pursue the Global Poverty and Practice Minor must submit a Minor Declaration of Intent Form. Students may declare without having taken any of the courses; additionally, there are no pre-requisites for the GPP Minor.

Declaration in the Minor will allow entry into the GPP105 core course, which is open only to declared students, as well as give priority for enrollment in Blum Center sponsored courses.

Declaration Deadlines

Spring 2013 Deadline: March 5, 2013



Contact Information and Office Hours

Advisors:
Chetan Chowdhry, Program Coordinator, 100E Blum Hall

Email: gppminor@berkeley.edu

Fall 2012 Drop-in Advising:

Monday, Wednesday: 10am – Noon; 1:30pm – 4:00pm

Tuesday, Thursday: 1:30pm – 4:00pm

100 Blum Hall

A month of celebration for the Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California

What do US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Nobel Laureate and Former US Vice President Al Gore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson have in common?

They all are part of a month-long celebration at the University of California, Berkeley to commemorate the third anniversary of the launch of the Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies. 

April 23, 2009 - Blum Center Groundbreaking with Vice President Al Gore. (Peg Skorpinski)
April 23, 2009 - Blum Center Groundbreaking with Vice President Al Gore. (Peg Skorpinski)
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new home of the Blum Center will take place on Thursday, April 23 at 1:30 pm PST – with Center Founder and UC Regents Chair Richard C. Blum joined by Former Vice President Al Gore, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, College of Engineering Dean S. Shankar Sastry, and University of California President Mark Yudof. The ceremony will be followed by a reception where faculty and students will present a wide range of innovations aimed at making lasting change for the nearly three billion people that live on less than two dollars a day.

The Blum Center is a spectacularly successful multidisciplinary research and education center devoted to delivering real world solutions to combat poverty. Founded three years ago by San Francisco financier and philanthropist Richard C. Blum, the Center has exceeded even the most optimistic predictions.

“Of all the investments I’ve made in my life, what we’re doing here certainly ranks near the top,” said Richard Blum. “Our real impact is in training the next generation of global leaders committed to making lasting change for the poor.”

Over 1500 students have participated in the Center’s classes, symposium and events. A key element of the Center’s outreach to students is its unique undergraduate academic minor in Global Poverty & Practice, which gives students the knowledge and real-world experience needed to become dynamic participants in the fight against global poverty. In only three years, the Center has become a veritable magnet for a “Yes We Can” generation, eager to make a difference both in their local community and in communities across the world. More than 210 students are already enrolled in the minor, a level not anticipated until 2015, making it the fastest growing minor on campus. These students come from more than 30 different majors including Engineering, Architecture, Business and Biology. In addition to a continuously evolving portfolio of coursework and educational programs designed to educate students about global poverty, students participate directly in poverty alleviation efforts in more than twenty five developing countries.

“The faculty and students at the Blum Center can change the world,” said Nobel Prize winner and Former Vice President Al Gore said. “Their efforts can have a truly significant impact on global poverty for years to come.”

“I am extremely proud of the exceptional work being done at the Blum Center,” stated UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. “This initiative came together at the perfect moment to speak deeply to a major concern of our students and faculty.”

Interest and enthusiasm for the Blum Center is tremendous – and thus the growth of the Center
over the last three years necessitated the creation of
a home. Richard Blum generously offered to finance the restoration of the Naval Architecture Building and the construction of a new wing to provide that home. The project is being developed by a private, non-profit organization created and funded by Richard Blum. Construction is expected to begin later this year, with project completion expected to take 16 months.

“What the Blum Center has already accomplished in just three years is nothing short of amazing,” noted George Shultz, former US Secretary of State and now a Trustee of the Blum Center.

In addition to educating the next generation of global citizens, the Center currently supports sixteen innovation initiatives involving faculty and students from more than thirty departments. These projects are expanding access to safe water and sanitation, adapting wireless technologies to increase access to lifesaving health care services and deploying new efficient energy technologies that minimize harmful environmental impacts. After successful piloting, the Center helps to transition the projects to outside partners so that the innovations will have a real and lasting impact on urgent global problems.

The person behind all this is Richard Blum. For more than thirty years, he has been devoted to alleviating global poverty by supporting practical and engaged efforts that deliver real results. Focused primarily on global poverty and education, he is Founder and Chairman of the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF), which was established 25 years ago. AHF has 170 projects providing vital healthcare, education, and environmental and cultural preservation throughout the Himalayan region. Four years ago, Mr. Blum founded the Global Economy and Development Center at The Brookings Institution and the Brookings Blum Roundtable Conference, to develop policy research and new strategies to alleviate poverty. He is also a trustee and a member of the executive committee of The Carter Center, founded by former President Jimmy Carter, and serves on the boards of William J. Clinton Foundation and The Wilderness Society.

“Dick Blum shares my belief that we all need to make a lifelong commitment to poverty alleviation, one of the challenges my Foundation tackles in Africa and Latin America as well as through the work of students who attend the
Clinton Global Initiative University,” President Bill Clinton said. “I’m pleased to see the Blum Center grow into a space where even more young people can turn their ideas and energy into action and results that benefit the common good.”
“The Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies’ commitment to combat global poverty has great potential to bring about far reaching change,” stated President Jimmy Carter, an Honorary Trustee of the Blum Center. “A new generation of global leaders dedicated to making positive change and the innovative economic development of the poorest nations inevitably will contribute to the alleviation of suffering and the creation of a more peaceful world. These ideals can and must be pursued by this and coming generations.”

Earlier this month, the Blum Center was delighted to welcome Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to speak about the rule of law in developing economies. On April 25th, the Blum Center is proud to join The American Himalayan Foundation in sponsoring an address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama entitled “Peace through Compassion.” A lecture about global health and human rights by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, will round out the month on April 29th.