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Fostering progress through collaboration & innovation

UC Forward is a philosophy, an idea, a re-imagining of what a university experience should be. It is a one-of-a-kind teaching, learning, and research initiative—pairing students and faculty with external experts, all from differing perspectives—to solve today's problems and develop tomorrow’s workforce in unique and relevant ways. Learn more

I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward. David Livingstone

Acara Challenge

INTB3060 The Acara Challenge: Transformation Through Sustainable Development

“Take the challenge for sustainable development:  A UC Forward experience in Global Social Entrepreneurship”

Street in Acara, India

The class is run as an innovation studio in a multidisciplinary learning environment, includes virtual field experience, with lectures, guidance from the professors and industry experts. Students listen to lectures from professors in the other six participating US universities on a range of topics such as design thinking, value proposition, emerging markets, developing a business plan etc while formulating the design of their solution and business plan.

In this course students develop solutions in high-performing teams to pressing global issues in order to create transformative social change, applying their knowledge of design thinking and ethnographic research and business acumen. The course is built around the University of Minnesota’s Acara Challenge.

Acara Challenge’s education goals:

  • Educate and inspire the next generation of leaders
  • Bringing the classroom into real global challenges, whose solutions require students touse all their academic skills plus teamwork, customer research, multi-culturalunderstanding and real world deliverables.
  • Partner with universities and university funders

Acara Challenge’s impact goals:

  • Implement the best ideas that emerge from competitive student teams
  • Partner with funders, NGOs, incubators, investors in emerging economies for implementation of the solutions

In Fall 2012, undergrad students from the UC Forward course "Take the challenge for sustainable development" (Dr Kamath & Dr Apana) came back from the Acara Challenge, winning a gold and silver award. They competed with graduate and undergraduate students from Cornell and Minnesota.

Senior Evan Gilbert (LCOB) delivered an amazing presentation of their idea and venture plan "The Humble Commode," an ingenious closed loop system  that could help millions at the base of the pyramid have access to much needed toilets and fertilizer. His presentation won his group the gold award. He was joined by Bojan Lazic (LCOB ). Other team members were Zubin Sadri  LCOB and Carrie Lierl (Design).

Watch the 2 minute pitch made by UC students.

Freshman Mathew Davenport (bio medical engineering) delivered  a very impressive presentation of his groups' venture plan "CincyVeil" presenting an ingenious way of converting toxic chromium waste in tanneries into a non toxic form  using agricultural waste. He was joined by freshman Alex Hernandez (LCOB) and Josh Haner also from LCOB. Other group members include Abe Zbornick  (LCOB).

2 minute pitch:

Students in Acara

UC students visit Acara


In June 2013, a group of UC students traveled to Bangalore, India to meet with venture capitalists and present their projects at the Acara Summer Institute. The "Humble Commode" team won the gold medal, while the students behind "CincyVeil" took the silver. The students also visited the town of Acara. There they were able to engage with local residents who will benefit from the technological initiatives and solutions the students developed in the course. See the Cincinnati Business Courier blog and the LCOB site for news items about the trip!


Why wait to change the world if you don't have to?