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CGI U - Clinton Global Initiative University Network

Faculty-Student Research

Kean University is a member of the CGI University Network and has pledged to support, mentor and provide seed funding to student innovators and entrepreneurs on campus. To apply to CGI U, you must develop a Commitment to Action. A commitment is a new, specific, and measurable plan to address a challenge in one of CGI U’s five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. The CGI U website is hosting online information sessions and has lots of useful information about how to develop a commitment and funding opportunities for student commitment makers.

The 12th annual CGI University meeting will take place in October, 2018 at the University of Chicago. Student attendees will have the opportunity to attend plenary sessions, working sessions, and other special events which will enable them to network with their peers, build skills, and identify potential partners. The program will feature dozens of topic experts, university representatives, and celebrities who will join students at CGI U to discuss effective solutions to some of world’s most pressing challenges. During the last day of the meeting, attendees will take part in a Day of Action in the local community.

2018 CGI U

After a competitive and rigorous application process, CGI U has officially selected its Class of 2018! Nearly 1,400 students representing almost 400 schools and more than 100 countries were accepted into this year's program. Accepted students have received a formal invitation to the CGI U 2018 meeting hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton at the University of Chicago from October 19-21. These students have all made Commitments to Action that address challenges within one of CGI U's five focus areas of education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. During the three-day conference, they will have the opportunity to hear from thought leaders, attend topic-specific workshops, and network with fellow commitment-makers.
From Kean University, five students were selected to participate in the CGI U 2018 Conference. Under the leadership of Dr. Norma Bowe, two student teams will be presenting their commitment ideas: Changing the Landscape for Peace and Dream Big: A Young Women’s Leadership Initiative.

The 2017 Commitment Information

Project Title: Be the Change Kean University
Faculty: Dr. Norma Bowe

Newark, the largest city in New Jersey has a crime rate five times the national average (46 crimes per one thousand residents). Newark has 3.65 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. National standards call for 325-500 acres for a population of this size. Be the Change N.J at Kean University is engaged in peace efforts by adopting vacant lots in dangerous Newark neighborhoods and turning them into gardens or playgrounds. These projects address urban challenges such as food deserts and crime. We have seen a significant decrease in violent crime around the peace gardens. Jessica Fernandez, Darnell Felder and Denise Winkle are applying to go to CGI U. After receiving an Employee Impact Grant from the company Neuberger Berman, a pilot project using vertical garden design was launched in June 2015. The stacked design allows for forty plants to grow in only eight feet of space. The vertical gardens have a self-watering unit with a submersible water pump making them green and sustainable. Vertical gardens offer an increased accessibility to food sources for urban residents. Five pilots (2016) were conducted in New Jersey and one in Kosovo at a battered women’s shelter. In Kosovo, the garden also serves as a therapeutic milieu. The group is expanding the scope to include vertical gardens in five domestic violence shelters (4 in NJ and one in Roanoke Virginia) and then collect data on gardening and the mitigation of PTSD. The Roanoke location was chosen because a women in the shelter was so battered that she couldn’t bend down to garden. The tower design is perfect for her. Be The Change also created “murder maps” of each ward in Newark. These maps reflect homicides from 2011-2015. The 2016 data will be released to the group in June 2017. Deaths are recorded by age, race, gender and cause of death. The homicide data was collected at the Newark Regional Medical Examiner’s office. We are using these maps to plan for future community and garden peace projects.

Let’s Go Bigger – Department of Occupational Therapy
Faculty: Dr. Claire Mulry
Student Participants: Nicole Cassano and Mark Ravinsky

Let’s Go Bigger from Kean’s Department of Occupational Therapy is a community mobility program designed to improve the health and wellbeing of senior citizens. The students are attending CGI U to expand a successful program that they ran in seven senior housing facilities in Rahway, Linden and Trenton, New Jersey that assisted older adults in getting out of their homes and into the community to engage in meaningful activities. Participants reported sustained physical, psychological and social benefits of increased involvement in their communities. The Let’s Go program makes a difference in the daily lives of older adults.

The 2016 Commitment Information

Project Title: Changing the Landscape for Peace
Faculty: Dr. Norma Bowe
Student Researchers: Joseph Lentini, Jillian Mahon and Gabrielle Ardolino
Focus Area: Peace and Human Rights
Location of the Project: Prishtina, Kosovo, Albania

Project Description: This commitment to action is grounded in the Broken Windows Theory. By creating vertical gardens in challenged areas, the team intends to address food justice, social justice, and the lasting effects of war. They will study the therapeutic effects of garden creation and how these pocket parks can help restore a community. We hope to make vertical gardens adaptable to many diverse climates and environments.

Project Title: Let’s Go Bigger
Faculty: Dr. Claire Mulry
Student Researchers: Christina Papetti, Julian De Martinis and Mark Ravinsky
Focus Area: Public Health
Location of the Project: Trenton, New Jersey

Project Description: This commitment to action targets underserved older adult populations by implementing the “Let’s Go” occupational therapy community mobility program throughout multiple urban areas in New Jersey. “Let’s Go Bigger” will provide older adults who have physical disabilities or mobility concerns with the support and tools necessary to facilitate engagement in community mobility. The goal is to expand the reach of this healthcare program to evaluate its efficacy and to promote the emotional and physical well-being of older adults by educating participants about the importance of community mobility, its relationship to health and wellness, and awareness of alternative mobility options.

Project Title: Organic Multicultural Vegetable Garden
Faculty: Dr. Dongyan Mu
Student Researchers: Karen Pina, Jessica Frago and Sarah Khalil
Focus Area: Peace and Human Rights
Location of the Project: Union, New Jersey

Project Description: This team is committing to establish an organic multicultural vegetable garden in the Liberty Hall Farm located in Union County, Team members will work with students from immigrant and refugee families to plant vegetables with various cultures and ethnic backgrounds by using compost produced from food wastes on campus. Vegetable harvests will be used in student’s dining halls and cafeteria and/or donated to local immigrant and refugee families. Activities proposed are expected to increase mutual understanding and communications, help young immigrants and refugees merge into local communities, and enhance sustainability at Kean University.



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