UNICC & Columbia SPS Think-a-Thon
Location: United States Experience Type: Challenges & Competitions
In collaboration with the United Nations International Computing Centre and Columbia University School of Professional Studies, this Think-a-Thon Challenge invites students and alumni of Columbia University, along with their teammates from all over the world to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The United Nations 17 SDGs address the major global challenges we face and serve as the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
To participate in the UNICC Think-a-Thon teams are invited to select ONE of two challenge prompts:
2. Climate Change
and propose a solution that makes a positive impact in these areas.
Finalists will receive mentorship from the subject matter experts from the UNICC to work on real-world solutions for the two challenge prompts above, have a chance to win cash prizes to advance their projects, and the opportunity to present to UNICC delegates while working on a real-world solution to a global issue.
Form your diverse team today and submit your proposal by September 2nd, 2022.
Judges will then select 10 finalist teams who will receive mentorship and present their solutions at the live competition on September 29th.
Selected finalists will have the opportunity to present their solutions to UNICC experts.
1st Place- Climate Action–$10,000 to split between the team members
1st Place- Gender Equality–$10,000 to split between the team members
Audience Choice–$5,000 to split between the team members
- Work on a real-world solution to a global issue with a mentor/ subject matter expert from the UNICC.
- Network with a cross-functional team from the UNICC and learn about the organization
- Use live data sourced by the UNICC to hone in on your analytical skills
- Collaborate and network with Columbia University colleagues across academic programs
- Strengthen your resume with project experience that makes a positive global impact
Timelines – 2022
- June 1st: Submissions Open for the Think-a-Thon!
- September 2: Application Submission Deadline -5 PM ET.
- September 12: Final Teams and Mentors are Announced at 10 AM ET.
- September 13–September 23: Final teams will be offered mentorship to refine their proposal and final presentations
- September 23: Submit Final Presentations for Judges Review – 5 PM ET.
- September 29: Think-a-Thon Competition and Award Ceremony
Participation and Submission Guidelines
Phase 1: Application Submissions, June 1st – Sept 2
- Step 1: Form a Team
- Participants will form a group of 3-5 members.
- Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.
- At least one person per team will be required to be an SPS Student or Alumni.
- Participants without an affiliation to Columbia University are also invited to participate.
- Step 2: Select a Challenge
Choose one of two Challenge prompts provided and prepare your proposal using the Evaluation Criteria provided.
- Gender Equality
- Climate Change
- Step 3: Submit Your Proposal
Proposal submissions will be accepted from June 1st- Sept 2 at 5 pm ET.
- Judges will review the submissions beginning on Friday, September 2 at 5 pm ET through Friday, September 9th at 5 pm ET.
- Up to 10 teams will be selected to move to the next round of the competition.
Application Submission Requirements:
- Complete the form on the UN THINK-A-THON platform to submit your application and proposal
- Deadline: Friday, Sept 2 at 5:00 pm ET
Deadline: September 2, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. ET
Phase 2: Final Teams & Mentors Announced, September 12th, 2022
Finalists will be matched to individual mentors/coaches from the United Nations (UN) Women and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) who will provide guidance and support.
The final teams will be announced on Monday, September 12 at 10 am ET.
The order of final team presentations for the competition will also be announced at this time.
Announcement: September 12, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET
Phase 3: Mentorship & Final Presentation Submissions: September 13 – September 23, 2022
All final teams will be offered mentorship to refine their proposal and final presentations for the live competition. Final teams will submit their presentations by the deadline on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at 5 pm ET.
All submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges between Friday, September 23 at 5 pm ET – Thursday, September 29, 2022, and at the Live Competition on Sept 29.
Final Presentation Submission Requirements
All final teams will submit the following by Sept. 23 at 5 pm ET
- Presenters’ names
- 3 static slides in PowerPoint or Google Slide format
SUBMISSION Deadline: September 23, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. ET
Phase 4: Think-a-Thon Competition and Award Ceremony: September 29, 2022
All final teams will present their solutions to a live audience. Judges will offer feedback, the audience will select their favorite team, and challenge winners will be announced!
LIVE COMPETITION: September 29, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET
Rules and Regulations:
- 5 minutes maximum presentation per team followed by additional time for Q&A
- The 5-minute time limitation We will stop the time promptly at 5 minutes
- Teams must use the slides submitted on Sept. 23
- If awarded the First, Second, and/or Audience prize, each team must submit one person’s name who will receive and distribute the winning prize money to their team members after the competition.
Think-a-Thon Challenge Prompts and Criteria 2022
3.1 CHALLENGE PROMPT I: GENDER INEQUALITY
Background & Problem Statement: UN Women’s latest global assessment finds that the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. The distance remaining to achieve SDG 5 is long and time is short. One in every 15 countries is very far from target or far from target in at least a third of the SDG 5 indicators. In two areas critical to women’s empowerment: time spent on unpaid care and domestic work and decision making regarding sexual and reproductive health, the world is far from the target. At the same time, the absence of statistics reflecting the lives of women and girls renders many gender inequalities invisible. Only 48% of data needed to monitor SDG 5 are currently available.
Moreover, due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty has deepened for women and girls. The total number of women and girls living on less than $1.90 a day is estimated to be 388 million in 2022. In a “high-damage” scenario, this number could balloon to 446 million. In addition to increasing poverty, women and girls have been impacted in many other ways: more women have left the labour force than men, violence against women has increased amidst lockdowns and access to essential health care, such as maternal health care, has been disrupted. Based on data from Rapid Gender Assessments by UN Women, in 22 out of 33 countries surveyed, women were more likely than men to report that their mental or emotional well-being had been impaired. And women who reported increased unpaid care and domestic work were 1.6 times as likely to report increased mental and emotional stress as women who did not see increases in such work.
Data on labour force participation and poverty rates by sex show that the biggest gaps in both are found between women and men with young children at home, with men showing better outcomes for both. Using the LFPR and poverty estimate datasets provided, create a data story that captures the connection between women’s access to employment and level of poverty at the global, regional and/or country level. Consider how inequality in caring responsibilities between women and men influences these outcomes. Given this backdrop and using the provided datasets, provide a recommendation or innovative solution (e.g. service, process, programs, tools, etc.) that will help address gender inequality in the workforce.
3.2 CHALLENGE PROMPT II: Climate Change
Background & Problem Statement: The United Nations has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve significant progress on global economic, social, and environmental challenges by 2030.
Partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia, scientific community, and civil society are critical to prevent climate change from rolling back and advocate for further gains in the future.
SD Goal 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts as it is intrinsically linked to all 16 of the other Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
Provide a recommendation or innovative solution to involve citizens in achieving the climate objectives set out by the Paris agreement, and how digital technology approaches can be used to identify vulnerable groups and mitigate the risks for these groups.