Virtual Diplomacy Proposal Wins Case Competition

November 11, 2020

On Friday, February 19, 2021, teammates, coaches, and judges gathered virtually for the first ever China Bridge Challenge competition, with the theme of Building Sustainable Cities and Communities. The China Center collaborated with Professor Juanjuan Wu and the College of Design for the competition, where student teams collaborated to come up with a project to address a shared problem faced by the U.S. and China. Six teams competed, with project ideas ranging from fostering inter-personal connections through a mobile app, to working together on solutions to soil pollution.  

The first-place prize went to Team 3, “Fostering Cross-Cultural Understanding Through a Fun Competition: Virtual Diplomacy for the 21st Century.” The team presented the idea for CultureScape, a weeklong event of making videos, interacting with other cultures, and learning about sustainability initiatives. The competition involves four key players: U.S. students, Chinese students, partner universities, and U.S.-China organizations such as student groups and government initiatives.

Second place was awarded to Team 5, “Green Space Collaboration Project.” Team 5 came up with an exciting collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Chongqing University to plan, design, and create green spaces on campus. The two universities could share ideas and engage exchange students to share their perspectives. The project could foster friendship between the two universities.  

The program began with an opening presentation and remarks from China Center Executive Director Joan Brzezinski and Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs Meredith McQuaid. Dean McQuaid praised the competition as a way for students to work together in bridging the many gaps in the U.S.-China relationship that have been made visible through the past few years. Dean McQuaid said that although there have been ups and downs in the U.S.-China relationships, the power and potential of the two countries is amazing. 

Student teams presented their projects over the course of the morning.

Team 1, “Creating Interpersonal Connection Cross Culturally,” presented WasteFULL, an open world game based on Pokémon Go designed to build interpersonal connections, raise awareness of plastic waste, and contribute towards recycling, reducing, and reusing waste. 

Team 2, “New Sustainable City Management Strategy under the Background of COVID-19 Pandemic,” sought to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities. The team envisioned an app to help locate testing points and supplies points, as well as keep track of total cases. 

Team 4, “Soil Contamination in China and the United States,” proposed implementing a soil washing program to combat soil pollution in China and the United States. The team proposed mobilizing the University of Minnesota community to design and create a soil washing machine. 

Team 6, “Enabling Regenerative Agriculture through Cross-Cultural Collaboration,” proposed promoting regenerative agriculture through agriculture automation technologies. China and the United States could collaborate to create new technologies for sustainable agriculture. 

During the closing ceremony, the first and second place teams were awarded, and College of Design Dean Carol Strohecker gave closing remarks. Dean Strokecker congratulated the winning teams, and emphasized the importance of the U.S. and China working collaboratively to solve planetary scale problems. 

The China Center congratulates all of the teams on their wonderful projects. Thanks to all of the team members, coaches, and faculty who made the first ever China Bridge Challenge competition possible!