ODD Summer 2016 – Two months to help save the planet.


Have a great idea for crowdsourcing sustainable development. Turn it into a classroom research tool together with an international team. Start at the United Nations in Geneva. Finish in the Global Manufacturing Hub of Shenzhen.

In September 2015, world leaders committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. (in French: les Objectifs de Développement Durable = ODD). Over the next 15 years, governments will strive to achieve goals such as ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and tackling climate change. To achieve these goals, we need to enable today’s youth to play an active and meaningful role in tackling the SDGs. The motivation of ODD Summer 2016 is for teams of University students, in close collaboration with UN organisations, to conceive low-cost ways for crowdsourcing sustainable development that even schoolchildren can participate in, and develop prototypes suitable for deployment.

The ODD summer has three parts: a summer school  hosted by University of Geneva 4-10 July, a four-week Summer Project associated with a UN organisation, 11 July – 7 August, and a summer school hosted by Tsinghua University at its Beijing and Shenzhen campuses 14-27 August. Participants will be selected from undergraduate and graduate students with a deliberately broad range of backgrounds, ranging from science and technology to business and design, in order to ensure highly interdisciplinary student teams.


The ODD Summer is all about team-based problem solving and hands-on prototype development, going from a conception phase during the Geneva Summer School to producing practical demos during the Summer Project, and finally during the Tsinghua Summer School working with Chinese teachers, schoolchildren and the unique Chinese maker movement, to make prototypes suitable for deployment in schools.

The overarching goal is to impact school-based science classes, by enabling tomorrow’s innovators to participate actively in tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges, today.  This focus is inspired by the 120th anniversary of Jean Piaget, father of the field of child developmental psychology. Piaget, who worked at University of Geneva for 50 years, encouraged several generations of educators to embrace hands-on modes of learning, which are at the heart of the crowdsourced creativity that this programme seeks to foster.

During the Geneva Summer School, the focus is on meeting with experts from the University of Geneva and the UN to explore how various forms of crowdsourcing could make a difference in tracking and tackling the SDGs. This ranges from the UN Environmental Programme, UNEP, where crowdsourcing could help in the analysis of satellite data about deforestation, to the World Health Organization, WHO, which is exploring how mobile apps can contribute to better health standards. Based on this expert guidance, students work in teams to conceive novel solutions for public participation in tackling sustainable development, suitable for use by students and their teachers in middle and high school.

During the Summer Project, which lasts four weeks in the period 11 July – 7 August, student teams develop their concept and design a prototype, while working in a research lab or activity associated with a UN agency or other international organization. These labs each have their own area of expertise. For example Citizen Cyberlab, a partnership with the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), develops online crowdsourcing tools for crisis response. The Global Humanitarian Lab, a collaboration with the Red Cross and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), develops low-cost hardware that can improve the quality of life in refugee camps.

At the Tsinghua Summer School, students spend one week in Beijing and one in Shenzhen. They work with a range of low-cost consumer technologies and open source software tools in order to build their prototype, in close collaboration with Chinese middle and high school students. They learn about how their prototypes can be produced in China’s vibrant manufacturing hub Shenzhen, and present their final results to a panel of design, development and production experts. The Tsinghua Summer School is co-organized by the Lifelong Learning Lab of Tsinghua University, TULLL, with the support of the LEGO Foundation, the Open FIESTA Center at Tsinghua Graduate School in Shenzhen and the Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab, SZOIL.

Successful projects are encouraged to pursue spin-off opportunities after the summer, through a broad education and innovation programme for the SDGs being established jointly by University of Geneva and Tsinghua University.

Where to Apply: https://genevasummerschools.ch/admission-and-contact/application-form

Deadline for Applications: EXTENDED TO 15 June 2016 (midnight Geneva)

Travel Grants: Some support is available for strongly motivated applicants with experience in hands-on projects related to sustainable development. Please enquire.

Important: When applying, please state clearly in your Letter of Motivation which parts of the ODD Summer you wish to join: the Geneva Summer School (4-10 July) the Summer Project (four weeks in the period 11 July – 7 August) and the Tsinghua Summer School (14 – 27 August).

 Questions? Contact us at citizencyberlab@unige.ch


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