ECU Students Begin New Initiative to Address Global Challenges

From fighting hunger to advocating for youth from rural areas, East Carolina University students are working to improve the lives of others through a new initiative called That Big Idea Challenge.

Erik Kneubuehl, associate vice chancellor for student involvement and leadership, brought the concept, modeled after the Clinton Global Initiative, to ECU last year.

Student leaders Zach Evans and Mona Amin, who attended the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in 2015, along with ECU staff member Adeea Rogers, helped recruit ECU students across disciplines to participate last fall and provided support for the project. 

“We met weekly for about a month developing the concept of That Big Idea-CGIU,” Rogers said. “The name came from our conversations about how to spark interest among ECU students to participate. Someone said, ‘we can tell them this is an awesome opportunity to develop that big idea they have.’ And it stuck.”

More than 30 students collaborated in 15 project groups on ideas focused around education, the environment and climate change, alleviating poverty, peace and human rights or public health.

“Even if the ideas don’t take off, these students are inspired and learn to work beyond the boundaries of their major and campus,” Kneubuehl said. “It’s service in its utmost sense.”

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