Cross-cultural teams propose solutions to addressing climate change

March 11, 2024

As the largest economies in the world, the U.S. and China must work together and find solutions to world climate challenges. Undergraduates proposed their ideas as part of the China Center's fourth annual China Bridge Challenge.

Three teams, each including at least one student from Greater China and one student from the U.S., presented in the final round of the case competition. Their ideas addressed the theme of “Strategies for an Evolving U.S.-China Relationship: Resiliency in the Face of Climate Change” and included: an online course bringing together students in the U.S. and China around climate change topics, a sustainability volunteer program for students while studying abroad, and a plan to develop China’s seed certification program and reduce agricultural tariffs.

The first-place team proposed an online interdisciplinary course on climate change to bring together Chinese and U.S. students, with topics presented from both countries’s perspectives. In addition, students would have the opportunity to engage with local community partners and businesses working on sustainability, such as solar power or sustainable farms. The program aims to address several goals—increasing opportunities for communication between students in the two countries and encouraging climate action and community engaged learning.

A key component of the competition is to bring together U.S. and Chinese students on teams. Zhou Chen, a CFANS student on the winning team said, “Working in depth with other individuals on a project like this was very rewarding. Even though many of the team members share the same ethnicity, the different fields of study and cultural background inspired me to pick up good communication skills and ways to empower and hold everyone accountable.”

Bianca Turman, a student in the College of Liberal Arts and the Carlson School of Management, was another member of the winning team and was participating in her second China Bridge Challenge.

“I think the China Bridge Challenge will be enormously helpful in my future academic and professional career. This case competition has truly enhanced my ability to condense research and articulate my ideas in proposal form,” she explained. “More importantly, the China Bridge Challenge has equipped me with the skills and experience to approach a topic from numerous perspectives and to understand viewpoints that differ from my own. I am confident these competencies will benefit my future academic and career pursuits.”

The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) was the partnering college for this year's China Bridge Challenge. A natural fit for this year's theme, CFANS students use science every day to create a world that will feed our growing population, sustain the natural resources upon which we depend, and find answers to the world’s grand challenges.

“I am highly impressed by the quality of the contestants and the professionalism demonstrated by all the team members,” said Roger Ruan, a professor of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering (CFANS) who was a judge at the final presentations. “They have excelled in grasping the complexities of the issues at hand and devising innovative solutions. This program undoubtedly plays a crucial role in inspiring young individuals to contribute towards building bridges between the U.S. and China.”  

Pictured is the first-place team (from left): Shuai An (College of Science and Engineering), Sophia Shi (Carlson School of Management), Bianca Turman (College of Liberal Arts and Carlson School of Management), and Zhuo Chen (College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences)