The UA Blog

UA Alum attends Clinton Global Initiative

Last week, UA 2012 winner, Meicen Sun, attended the Clinton Global Initiative University conference, which took place in the Arizona State University. Meicen was the international category winner for International Relations and Politics. She is a graduate of Princeton University. Here’s what she had to say about her involvement with the CGI U and how UA helped her to get where she is today!

It was a little over a year after I won the 2012 Undergraduate Award when I got accepted to the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University conference. The acceptance came as a surprise. Used to reading books and writing papers, I’d long held the mistaken belief that the so-called start-up culture was an antithesis of academia. Even when CGI U later honored my project for its “exemplary approach” to addressing a global challenge, I was prepared to believe that I was one of CGI U’s “admissions mistakes.”

But upon a second thought, it all made sense. Whereas UA recognized my academic achievement, CGI U provided me with the validation to take it one step further into the real world. The issue of international justice has always been a major area of interest to me, and my CGI U project specifically examines the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of the Kenyan state leaders for crimes against humanity. Partly in an effort to balance depth and impact, I have adopted a two-pronged approach for my project: It will at once generate policy feedback for the ICC and the relevant UN agencies, and assist the victims of the Kenyan crisis following the violence. In so doing, I’m hoping to help establish a communication network for international justice facilitators, as well as an avenue for victims of injustice to express their needs.

Rather than a “distraction” from my academic coursework, I see my CGI U project as a logical extension. It gives me a special opportunity to both supplement theoretical learning with real-world experience and more importantly, to transform such learning into a concrete, positive impact that hopefully will gain its own momentum in the process. In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly counterproductive to treat “academia” and the “start-up scene” as two distinct if not opposing spheres. Instead, what we need to do is create synergy between these two tremendously energetic “poles” that can, and should reinforce each other.

My experience of attending CGI U just a few weeks ago confirmed my speculation that this trajectory was taking place around the globe. It was as inspiring to hear the distinguished individuals speak as it was to mingle with hundreds of brilliant young minds from all over the world, each with a big, bold idea. Ultimately for me, those three days in Arizona were about breaking boundaries, treading new grounds, and unleashing that creative, innovative energy that I never knew had existed within me.

“Let me get to know the guy/girl who has half of an idea that I can combine with my own,” said my friend and mentor Kyra Maya Phillips whom I met at the 2012 UA Summit. Those words have since stayed with me, as I have continued collecting numerous such “half ideas” while having my breath taken away time and again by just how quickly the imaginary boundaries retreat. Like UA, CGI U is yet another signpost that will remind me of the simple fact that the sky is the limit, and that plus est en vous.

Photograph: Barbara Kinney/Clinton Global Initiative. Meicen Sun pictured with NFL star, Jay Feely.

Judging Chairs Confirmed

As we draw nearer to the close of submissions, the UA Team is hard at work putting together panels of academics and industry experts to judge each of the 25 categories.

We are delighted to confirm three extremely high-calibre academics as the Chair Judges for the Historical Studies, Design and Psychology categories.

Dr. Stefan Auer is an Associate Professor at both the University of Hong Kong and at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He is an expert researcher and author in the field of Modern European History, European enlargement and international relations. As such, Dr. Auer will be our Chair Judge for the Historical Studies category.

Barry Sheehan is Head of Design and Assistant Head of the School of Art, Design and Printing at Dublin Institute of Technology. Barry comes from a background in architecture. Before taking up his present post in DIT, Barry worked with the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland. Barry will be the Chair Judge for our new Design category.

Dr. Suzanne Guerin is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at University College Dublin. Dr. Guerin is the Director of the UCD Centre for Disability Studies and jointly coordinates the MSc there in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. Dr. Guerin will be our Chair Judge for the Psychology category.

If you’d like to apply to become a judge for the 2014 Programme, as part of one of our 25 panels, then fill in the form here.


New Affiliate Universities

We’re delighted to announce three institutions who have recently signed up to our Affiliate University programme. Monash University, Australia; University of Dundee, United Kingdom; and the Karolinska Institute, Sweden will join our other affiliates in promoting the 2014 UA Programme amongst their student body.

To check out a  full list of out Affiliate Universities, and to learn more about what that means, just click here.

If you are a representative of a third-level institution and are interested in having that institution becoming a University Affiliate, then contact us!

UA Award Winner in The Irish Examiner

Great feature focusing on Katharine Griffith, our Engineering & Mechanical Sciences winner from GMIT Letterfrack in the Irish Examiner today. Check it out!

A school chair that could reduce back problems in children and help improve their concentration has earned a young furniture designer a major award.

Campus Ambassador Tees

We’re sending out these snazzy T-shirts today to our Campus Ambassadors. If you’d like to become a Campus Ambassador and represent the world’s only pan disciplinary academic awards programme on your campus then contact

30 Under 30 Competition

Congrats to Lynn Rothwell, a highly commended entrant to the Visual Arts category in UA 2012, who has been shortlisted as one of the top photographers in the ’30 Under 30′ competition. She’s now in the running to win a People’s Choice award for her work.

She’s got our vote! Pick your favourite here.

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