Ashesi team wins second-place at U7+ challenge in France

A team of five Ashesi University students emerged as second-place winners in the finals of the U7+ Student Challenge held in Paris this past month. The U7+ Alliance of World Universities, of which Ashesi is a member, is the first coalition of university presidents aimed at defining concrete actions universities can take to collectively address global challenges in coordination with government leaders in G7 countries and beyond. The challenge is an opportunity for students across the Alliance to learn about each other’s ideas for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Other participating universities in this year’s challenge were Northwestern University (which won first place), the University of Ottawa, and École Polytechnique, which hosted the competition. The goal of the international challenge was to lead students to analyze local challenges and learn how to find the skills needed to resolve these challenges within their institutions and the U7+ network. Each project had to include a technological component, involve community stakeholders, and demonstrate a multidisciplinary approach.

Ashesi’s student team, comprising first-year students Gabriel Koomson, Bridget Nana Berniah Kwofie, Charlton Mandaza, Ewurama Boateng-Yeboah, and Maame Gyanwaa Otchere-Duah, focused on illegal mining in Ghana and its impact on the environment, local communities, and the economy. Having investigated the interplay between stakeholders that allow illegal mining to persist, the team’s presentation addressed starting points to change the current situation.

“It was very encouraging and heart-warming to see first-year students map out the illegal gold mining problem space the way they did,” shared William Annoh ’16 (Assistant Director at the Professor Adei Studio for Research Excellence), who supervised the student team. “Our students gained key insights from presentations and interactions with other students, faculty and staff from other participating universities, which will help grow their confidence.”

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