UP hosts the first virtual APRU Undergraduate Leaders’ Program
Download and view the post-event report here. The University of the Philippines (UP) successfully hosted the first virtual APRU Undergraduate Leaders’ Program 2021 with the theme, “Sahaya: Science and Arts, Harnessing the Youth’s Advocacies” from 18 – 29 October 2021. A total of 29 undergraduate students from 13 participating universities located in the Asia and the Pacific participated in the 12-day program. The Opening Ceremony was graced with Hon. Loren Legarda, 3-term Senator, Deputy Speaker, and Representative, Lone District of Antique and Dr. Howarth Bouis, Director of HarvestPlus (2003 – 2016) as the keynote speakers along with UP Officials, President Danilo Concepcion, and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista and APRU Secretary General, Dr. Christopher Tremewan. The UP Concert Chorus also gave a heartwarming performance of “I’ll Be There” and at the end of the program, participants were able to have a glimpse of the University of the Philippines and its constituent units through a virtual campus tour. For the succeeding days, different academic units of the university facilitated workshops and activities with topics on Digital Literacy and Critical Digital Literacy, Producing Vlogs, Holistic Habitation, Flourishing Life through Creativity and the Arts, Ensuring Food Security through Sustainable Production and Good Nutrition, Role of Biodiversity in Resilient Development, and Policy and Governance. Aside from the insightful workshops, a Global Cultural Activity entitled Sahaya Saya! was also held wherein the participants were able to showcase their own culture and interesting facts about their home country. The participants were grouped into four as they create their vlog as an output for the program. Workshops on production including pre- and post-production were facilitated by TVUP and they have assisted the participants in finalizing their respective outputs. A panel was also invited to provide comments and suggestions on the vlog concepts of the participants. During the closing ceremony, participants were able to witness performances highlighting the Philippine Culture from the UP Concert Chorus for their rendition of “Kruhay”, “Hamon ng Kasalukuyan” by Kontra-GaPi, and a special performance by Asst. Prof. Eman Jamisolamin of the College of Music of the University of the Philippines Diliman. Aside from these performances, the vlogs made by the participants were also presented. As the last day of the program, Mr. Jonas Angelo Abadilla of the University of the Philippines Diliman and Mr. Kun Woo Park of Korea University delivered the response on behalf of the participants of Sahaya 2021. Sahaya 2021 was then formally closed with a message from Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, Executive Director of TVUP and the Chair of the Local Organizing Committee along with a highlights video that wrapped up all the workshops and activities for the past 12 days. The APRU ULP 2021 Sahaya will not be possible without the support of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), the APRU ULP 2021 Local Organizing Committee, TVUP, and the UP Office of International Linkages. To view more information about the program and to watch replays of the sessions, you may visit https://apru-ulp.org/. Resources (Student vlogs) GROUP 1 – THE CHAMPIONS Topic: Are you overconsuming your planet? GROUP 2 – THE YOUTH ADVOCATES Topic: Taking the First Step GROUP 3 – AvocaDO! Topic: Youth Volunteers for Edu-e-Work GROUP 4 – MMACAS Topic: Happy Land For more information about the program, please visit Undergraduate Leaders’ Program. For more information about ULP 2021, please visit the event webpage.
January 24, 2022more
Student leaders present scalable community solutions
Published in University World News. The empathy, connectedness and flexibility skills taught to students during an innovative international problem-solving programme at the University of Oregon (UO) in the United States have manifested themselves in three prize-winning solutions to community problems. These focused on environmental degradation, social inequality and public health, with students having 10 days this month to develop ground-breaking ideas for action at an Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders’ Program. These were developed after students attended skills-building workshops and gained effective research tools, while working in small groups to devise solutions to specific problems. Winning solutions were selected by three community organisations from UO, based in Eugene. Shared characteristics included being affordable and easily implemented using resources that were already in place. Each solution would start with a pilot programme, which could be practically scaled-up to serve larger population areas as resources increased. Representing BRING Recycling, a non-profit dedicated to reducing waste, Christine Scafa selected ‘environmental degradation group three’ as a winner. Chau Tran (University of California, Irvine), Eliza Amstutz (University of California, Los Angeles), Dai Wei Ouyang (Tsinghua University, Beijing), Nakita Daniel (University of Auckland, New Zealand) and Sara Espinosa (UO resource student) devised a two-day summer programme designed to teach elementary school students about how to be more mindful of their food consumption. The group’s solution included an in-class workshop and facility tour to show the behind-the-scenes process of food production to encourage healthy eating and leaving a clean plate. To encourage composting, the students would be given personalised food collection bins to take home. Potential to influence older generations “This solution is in line with BRING’s mission of education – accessing people through children is one thing we think is very important,” said Scafa. “Children have potential to influence older generations if they have the resources to do so.” The plan was a response to BRING research that indicated that 19% of the total waste stream by weight and volume in Lane County, Oregon (where the city of Eugene is located), is food. Furthermore, up to 40% of food in the United States that is grown or imported for consumption is never eaten. Visiting a community garden would help children realise the effort that goes into producing food, as well as encourage them to eat fresh food. The educational effort would start with one local elementary school and would involve children aged 10-11 (called ‘fifth graders’ in North America), who would in turn share this information and excitement about avoiding food waste with six- to seven-year-olds (first graders). As for the public health section, judges representing the HIV Alliance group included Jade Lazaris, Leland Hilarides and Mary Wasson. They chose the solution presented by ‘public health group one’ among the groups which were tasked with reducing the rates of new HIV infections in rural communities in Oregon. This team focused primarily on influencing males due to research which shows that 88.12% of HIV in Oregon affects males who engage in sexual contact with other males. Rural residents often view HIV testing negatively, so one challenge was to remove this stigma while also providing access to information and testing for as many people as possible. Dai Wei Huang (National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan), Rosie Lee (University of Auckland), Seaun Ryu (Korea University, South Korea), Jessica O’Neill (University of Oregon) and Colman Murphey (UO resource student) proposed an initiative to provide a free health-testing booth at highly attended community events, such as Oregon’s Crook County Fair and the Pendleton Round-Up, a nationally known annual rodeo. Affordable solution The affordable solution presented by this group would train partners already providing public health services to rural communities in providing discreet HIV testing and education. The booth would offer some sort of incentive to the public to increase their interest in general health testing, including blood pressure and cholesterol, with an option for HIV, rather than a booth with a prominent HIV-related logo singling out HIV testing. Two local public health partners already have a booth at the Crook County Fair but have not previously offered any health testing at the fair. “One in 13 people are unaware of their HIV status,” said O’Neill. “That’s a relatively large number and we felt that ambushing these communities with sensitive info was not the best way to increase testing.” Given that the cost of this testing effort would be just US$1,800 for equipment and training, estimated at US$1.80 per test, and that it would use booth infrastructure and staff that was already in place, Hilarides welcomed this effort as one that his organisation could undertake right away. Regarding the idea on the promotion of social equality, Lane Education Service District (LESD), an organisation that provides resources to Lane County, Oregon’s school districts, provided judges Kate Stoysich, from the Duck Nest Wellness Center (a holistic and alternative health centre), and Kendaris Hill, multicultural academic advisor and black/African American student retention specialist – both UO faculty. They chose ‘social inequality group three’ as their winning solution, addressing unequal access to education. Christal Juarez (University of California, Davis), Maria Gunji (Osaka University, Japan), Celine Koh (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Phoebe Yang (University of Sydney, Australia) and Mohammed Zaidan (UO resource student) researched redefining family involvement in schools. A 2017 study in Oregon quoted by participants identified a large disparity in academic outcomes for black students in the state versus their white counterparts. Studies comparing the families of white and black students revealed lower attendance by black pupils at elementary school events and fundraisers, even though many non-white families support academic success at home. Redefining parental involvement This solution involved providing an annual three-day workshop to train teachers to redefine parental involvement and recognise that while many families of colour are providing academic support to their children, this is not in ways that are always evident to school leaders, for instance visiting zoos or aquariums, or checking out books from libraries. One workshop would evaluate what parental involvement means and how to identify gaps in parental involvement. Workshop two would empower teachers to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for all parents and provide special training on supporting parents who may have had previous negative experiences with school authorities. Workshop three would equip teachers with tools for successfully communicating with all parents, including ones who cannot attend school functions due to other responsibilities such as working multiple jobs. To that end, this proposal suggests using an app called ClassDojo along with a teacher chatbot and daily updates on homework and quizzes. Training workshops run by LESD would commence in July during summer holidays, then be followed by an August technology set-up session and an introduction to ClassDojo for parents, followed by an end-of-first-semester evaluation. At the end of the year, students and parents would receive a pamphlet with tips on continuing to support education through the summer. This group estimated the pilot programme would reach 25 teachers and 521 students at Holt Elementary, a Lane County school with a high population of students of colour. Most valuable experience Maria Arteaga, a fourth-year managerial economics student from University of California, Davis, said working with students from around the world who were also passionate about their subjects was the most valuable experience she took from this programme. “We’re so passionate over so many different issues that in our home countries may be very different logistically but that also are more general, just like these three topics we faced here,” she said. “The most meaningful part of the workshops was being able to interact with other students. Even if there was a workshop I had done already, being able to learn from so many different students’ perspective was really valuable.” William Johnson, assistant vice provost for operations and innovations in the UO’s division of global engagement, praised the international group of 52 participating undergraduates for working hard and cooperating with people of “many different skills and backgrounds”. Johnson told University World News how impressed he was by the students’ professionalism.
July 27, 2019more
Learning a ‘human-centered’ approach to problem-solving
A ground-breaking collaborative international educational programme, staged at the University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene, United States, has pushed the participating 52 students to ally their intellectual research skills with empathy and practicality to deliver effective solutions to global problems. They have now entered the second week of an Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders’ Program designed to foster innovative thinking and problem-solving. From 1 July through 12 July, UO has been hosting undergraduates from 30 Pacific Rim universities. They have been working in small groups to develop skills empowering them to improve their home communities’ social and environmental standards. As APRU Secretary General Christopher Tremewan wrote: “The cascading crises that confront the world require all the intellectual strength and social wisdom we can muster. This programme is a wonderful opportunity to spend a serious amount of time with other creative leaders to gain knowledge and build relationships that can incubate solutions.” Through small group workshops led by skilled facilitators, the students have been working through exercises and challenges to boost their leadership abilities and test their problem-solving know-how. A focus on team-building and resolution, for instance, led by a law school professor from UO, fed into a workshop on creating community led by a professor from the university’s business school. The UO’s Holden Center for Leadership and Community Engagement was a natural partner to provide experts to run a workshop giving an introductory view of leadership. Importance of empathy One principle being stressed in these sessions has been that a solution without empathy is doomed to fail. As a result, participants have learned how to understand the real, actual people for whom they are designing solutions through a workshop on ‘human-centred design’. On the second day of the programme, students met with Kiersten Muenchinger, UO product design professor. Human-centred design can encompass just about anything, including something as small as an app. When thinking of a human-centred solution to a particular problem, Muenchinger urged students to “make sure the problem you’re solving is not a made-up problem, but a problem you’re solving with the actual end-user – or the organisation or the people that the organisation is trying to help – in mind. You’re not just solving your own problem.” Muenchinger challenged the students’ assumptions about the human targets of their solutions. She said students looking at her standing in front of a class might assume that she is a well-dressed professional, but they would not know, for instance, what type of weather might most impede her commute to work. Grace Honeywell, innovative programmes coordinator for UO’s division of global engagement, has been trying to make such understanding work internationally – it is her role to develop innovative programmes encouraging global engagement and connecting students worldwide through international curricula. Honeywell said she reflected on the key values of leadership and what encourages innovative processes when developing the workshops. The concept of a daily theme for these sessions emerged: “Becoming a leader is not necessarily a linear thing,” she said. “You can’t easily track it. As I started looking at the programme itself, to me what made the most sense was to have an arc of sorts, for each day of the programme and the process of coming up with solutions to these challenges.” To that end, the organisers paired a theme with each day of the programme. The theme of the first day was ‘community’, which Honeywell said is “the basis of every positive environment”. That first day students worked through a conflict resolution exercise, which along with icebreaking, contributed team-building exercises designed to foster positive interactions, so that the next day the teams could jump into experiencing ‘empathy’. Adaptability and integrity The second week took students deeper, with themes of ‘innovation’, ‘iteration’, ‘adaptability’, ‘action’ and ‘integrity’ being rolled out. At each step, students were challenged to express their thoughts, and what assumptions these were based on. Each student became both a teacher of other students and engaged in purposeful learning themselves. As the students moved past the ideation phase into the implementation phase of their solution, they received tools for effective research from a UO science librarian. To learn how to present that research in an effective way, students participated in a morning workshop on how to be innovative presenters and communicators. Lauren Miller, the UO’s director of strategic communications and marketing, advised on making strong, memorable and persuasive presentations. This was clearly an important session, given that when Miller questioned the group about whether anyone considered themselves a skilled story-teller, no one raised their hand. Only two students thought they were persuasive, and many said they preferred not to give presentations but instead just wanted to be in the background of collaborations. Miller used visual slides with text and photos to augment messages on how to approach planning group – as opposed to individual – presentations, and she challenged the group to set a personal goal for the aspect of presenting they wanted to improve. “When I give presentations, people say I’m really quiet or I didn’t look at the audience so its less interesting,” noted Hana Nagura, a second-year culture, media and society student from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. “I want to be louder, and be more confident.” Miller reassured her: “Confidence comes with practice.” Of course, presentations are better when using a mother tongue. Che-Wei ‘Jeff’ Chang, a fourth-year forestry and resource conservation student from National Taiwan University, stressed that English was not his first language, so when giving presentations he takes the safer route of putting more words on slides rather than delivering his message orally, because of concerns an audience may not understand him. However, he also would like to combine succinct messages on slides with insightful and compelling spoken words. “I want to improve. I want to say things more clearly, so they understand what I’m talking about.” Miller’s advice was that he should show others his slides and speaking notes ahead of a presentation to secure feedback on what he should say. Connecting with the audience During the second innovation workshop, UO’s Elly Vandegrift, a biology instructor and the associate director of its Science Literacy Program, led the group through exercises designed to get them thinking about connecting with their audience and distilling an appropriate message. There was laughter as Vandegrift placed the group in a circle and led them through a game called ‘Zip Zap Zop’. Participants pass an imaginary energy bolt around a circle, while trying to maintain a consistent energy and rhythm, using their whole bodies and making eye contact with the person they are passing to. She gave each person one minute to tell someone else something exciting they have learned or something they are working on. Then, time was given for the person to repeat that information back. Hana Nagura said she was surprised to hear the response because she said she forgot to share some important things and some of the recipient’s understanding, as related, did not seem to make sense. Teresa Trujillo-Camacho, a second-year psychology and social behaviour student at the University of California, Irvine, said she learned that messages do not have to be dumbed down. “You just have to put it into words that can be easily understood,” she said. Other students said listening to an audience and watching its reaction helps a speaker ensure their message is well understood. One UO undergraduate resource student participating in the programme was Mohammed Zaidan, a fourth-year political science and history student whose family is Jordanian. As he was working to encourage other students to be leaders, he learned a bit about leadership as well. “It was my role to be a guide and help my team,” he said. “I was trying to lead the way, but I would say that from this experience I learned a lot about leadership when it came to the idea of taking a step back [from active leadership]. The hardest part was taking a step back when the time was right.” Andrew Prasettya Japri, a third-year public health student from the University of Indonesia, contrasted the traditional lecture experience at his institution with the active learning in this UO programme. “In my country we always use the traditional approach,” he noted. “I like the way they give the workshops and the information to us here. They use some games to help us understand the materials. If you use a technique like that it will make the learning experience different. In my country I get bored studying for eight hours just sitting and listening, but here I can easily understand and remember what everyone is telling me.”
July 22, 2019more
Ground-breaking programme on ‘global’ problem-solving
By Vanessa Saliva Published by University World News Students from top Pacific Rim research universities have embarked on an innovative programme of problem-solving, designed to create fresh solutions on pressing socio-economic problems that leverage leadership skills and community contacts. The University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon, in the United States welcomed 52 undergraduate students from 28 universities based in the Pacific Rim region, including from the US, Canada, Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia and elsewhere. They were participating in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders’ Program, running between 1 July and 12 July. The association has 48 member institutions, including Tsinghua University, the National University of Singapore, UCLA, the University of Auckland, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as well as the University of Oregon (UO). This ground-breaking programme has brought undergraduate students together to develop solutions for three intertwined social dilemmas: environmental degradation, public health and social inequality. Over the programme’s 10 days, students explore what leadership means and how they might enhance their home communities with those skills. After getting to know each other through workshops, such as exploring the concept of designing products, services or systems that retain their human-centred focus, the students were split into small groups to listen to presentations from three Eugene-based community organisations. The students are to use their new-found skills to try to combat a problem they have been assigned to tackle. To illustrate environmental degradation, BRING Recycling, a non-profit dedicated to reducing waste, spoke about the percentage of the local waste stream that results from food and construction. A representative of Lane Education Service District, which supports 16 school districts in Lane County, Oregon, addressed social inequality with a presentation about equalising access to quality education, primarily for students of colour and low-income students. A representative from HIV Alliance spoke about how to reduce rates of HIV, in particular across rural communities, to highlight a specific public health concern. The participants have been charged with presenting solutions for evaluation by these community organisations, who will choose their favoured solution. Next generation of leaders “We want to help these students build up skills that will hopefully be applicable in whatever field they go into, to help create the next generation of leaders and problem-solvers around the Pacific Rim,” said William Johnson, assistant vice provost for operations and innovations in the UO’s division of global engagement. “We also want to give them a real-world problem that is both hyper-local to the community they’re coming into and a truly global problem that they might experience in their home communities.” This is the ninth year APRU has run such a conference. Each year, it assesses proposals from member institutions and chooses a winning university to host the programme. The UO conference has taken a fresh turn: earlier years of the conference, held at other universities, were less student-led and were instead more focused on bringing students together to experience the university along with training and lectures. More experiential Johnson was proud about how this UO event is approaching problem-solving in this student-centric way. “It’s gotten less focused on the traditional lecture model over the years of the conference, but there’s nothing approaching this level that we’ve seen in the past,” he told University World News. “While there are other experiential learning and problem-solving conferences like this around the world, or that address similar types of challenges, we haven’t seen anything quite like this done before and so far, it appears to be very successful.” The UO conference theme is ‘Fresh Approaches to a Gordian Knot: Student Leaders Untangle Pacific Rim Environment, Health and Inequality Challenges’. Over the course of the programme, participants work with UO faculty leaders in skills-building workshops and guided group time to hone a solution to each of these three problems. A problem such as homelessness, for example, was not considered as a focus because it manifests itself very differently in different societies. Prior to the conference, the students were divided into three larger groups, based on their educational experience and interests, to tackle one of the three areas of concern. Each of the three disciplines has two faculty members, two graduate students and four upper division UO undergraduate students working with teams of four to five programme participants. Students have said they are excited about the experiential and interdisciplinary learning that the UO programme offers. “We don’t always get an opportunity to ask and give our opinion about our thoughts,” said Andrew Prasettya Japri, a third-year public health student from the University of Indonesia. “Here I feel that everything is two-sided. We can ask questions freely and they always use some kind of technique like games and ice-breaking. It’s very good to wake your brain up and get something like that.” The UO also received more applications for participating in this programme than other universities have received in the past. The programme also has participation from more APRU universities than ever before. The APRU Secretary General Chris Tremewan, from New Zealand; UO President Michael H Schill; and Eric Boggs, director of UO’s honours programme at its Lundquist College of Business, spoke on the opening day. Interdisciplinary perspectives Interdisciplinary learning is a strength of the University of Oregon – and it was anticipated by organisers that this could challenge some participating students, because many are from cultures where experiential learning is not the norm. Nevertheless, on the first day of presentations students appeared keen to embrace initial workshops on leadership and human-centred design thinking. One task was focused on small-group discussions on what leadership means, what type of people exhibit leadership skills and whether the attendees considered themselves leaders. The facilitator asked students to talk about whether they agreed with the statement, ‘Great leaders are born, not made’. One student, Yuka Hayakawa, a junior economics major from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, said that she strongly disagreed with the statement. “No one is born a leader,” she said. “That’s why we’re all here, to learn how to be a leader.” Hayakawa was assigned to the social inequality group, and she hopes to parlay her experience in Oregon into a greater role in improving women’s leadership in Japan. “Japan is still a very male-centred society,” she remarked. “I want to give more opportunities for women’s leadership because women still do not have a high position in Japanese society, and it is difficult for women to participate in the workplace.” This year’s conference organisers intentionally selected challenges with interdisciplinary perspectives. For instance, while some students are focusing on a specific public health problem, the programme has a built-in structure to strongly encourage participants to view that problem through a social inequality or environmental perspective. Pitch practice Photo by University of Oregon At the end of the first week, each group will pair with groups from the other disciplines and they will practice pitch some of their solutions. Each group is tasked with helping other groups understand either the health aspect, the social inequality or the environmental aspect of their problem that they might not be considering. “It’s a really unique way of thinking about how all of these problems are interlocking,” said Johnson. “That makes sense from an academic perspective, but you don’t always see that approach in real problem-solving.” By the end of the programme, participants should develop a winning proposal in each discipline that is not just creative and feasible but impacts on the individual problem, along with an interdisciplinary perspective. Funding or implementing the solution is up to the discretion of the partner organisation. Even if the solutions do not end up being implemented in the real world, participation in the programme will have helped students think about what solutions might work as they return to their home countries and begin their own advocacy work. This is the first in a series of three weekly articles about this project. This article is part of a series on the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders’ Program published by University World News and supported by the University of Oregon. University World News is solely responsible for the editorial content.
July 13, 2019more