Honors College students earn top spots in ESE video competition

Can you imagine a world in which no one is left behind? What would life be like in the absence of poverty, hunger, and inequality? What could we achieve with quality education, gender equality, clean water/sanitation, and good health for all? More importantly, how do we get there? Honors College students have a few ideas. In fact, their forward thinking recently earned them top honors in a video contest at Purdue’s Ecological Sciences & Engineering Symposium.

The competition centered on major United Nations campaign. The UN has developed what it calls a blueprint for achieving a more sustainable future. Its Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, present a roadmap of 17 interconnected objectives. But the United Nations isn’t relying on governments to lead the charge, it wants everyone to participate in reaching these milestones by 2030.

Enter the ESE video contest. It called on students to discuss the implementation of a specific SDG (e.g. climate action, affordable and clean energy, good health), the overall successes and challenges in achieving that goal, and the complex, interconnected nature of the United Nations’ SDGs.

Honors College Professor Dwaine Jengelley immediately saw the relevance for his class, HONR 399: Global Development Challenges. It introduces students to some of the most pressing international development issues and facilitates student interaction with international development practitioners. Consequently, Jengelley made the ESE video contest an assignment.

To solve or to get close to any of these United Nations goals, a truly interdisciplinary approach is required,” Jengelley explained. “We only fool ourselves if we think otherwise.The HC is all about interdisciplinarity. We emphasize interdisciplinarity when the students take the first-year course, and we cultivate it as they progress through the college.”

Teams from Jengelley’s class took both first and third place in the campus-wide competition. Andrew Culbertson, Shao-Chieh Lien, and Andi Long walked away with top honors and a grand prize of $500, while Katie Graver, Alessandra Napoli, and Michael Welleck secured third place.

“In creating teams for this competition, I wanted to ensure the teams reflected true academic interdisciplinarity, in addition to as much gender and ethnic diversity as possible,” Jengelley said. “These components improve the quality of the work and I am so proud of the remarkable videos these teams created.”