five students holding a laptop
The Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge pairs students at U.S. community colleges with students in technical colleges in Jordan and Iraq.

New international project trains students to think globally

The interconnection between industries at home and abroad has been highlighted by the recent trade wars between the United States and many former partners in free trade. Supply chains encompass the world, and Beaufort County hosts a number of companies headquartered in other countries. Students must operate in an international setting, and a new sustainable business initiative will teach them to become global citizens. The Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge will create a binational team of 30 students from Beaufort County Community College and from Al-Balqa’ Applied University in Jordan to devise a project to address a conflict between environmental sustainability and the technology industry.

Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge partners select community colleges across the United States with technical colleges and universities in Jordan and Iraq to create binational teams. Students must learn to overcome cultural barriers, use new technologies for project management, and take a serious look at environmental shortcomings in the technology field. While not a credit class, students can earn badges, called “Badgrs,” mini certifications in skills like virtual collaboration, entrepreneurial thinking and cross-cultural communication. The Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge is a project of the United States State Department, the Stevens Initiative, The Aspen Institute and IREX.

“For most of our students this will be their first exposure to people from other countries,” said Cynthia King, business professor at BCCC and advisor for the initiative. “It will be a great opportunity for them to expand their horizons­­–definitely a resumé builder–and look great on a college or professional application. They can learn skills like empathy, adaptability and problem-solving skills across cultures because we are definitely a global society now. We need to have these skills to interact globally.”

Al-Balqa’ Applied University has its main campus in Salt, Jordan just outside of Amman, the capital. The university has a larger student population in a more urban setting, so not only will students work across an international divide, but also a rural-urban divide. The BCCC students will use the latest technology to collaborate with students in a city that was founded in 300 B.C.

Students will use programs like Zoom and Slack to communicate as they develop their team’s project over the course of ten weeks. At the end, students will present through a global virtual fair. The winning team will get $5000 toward developing their project.

Participation is open to any currently enrolled BCCC student. It will require about three hours of work per week for ten weeks. Students who are curious should attend a meeting on January 23 at noon in Building 2, Room 125 A.