“The force is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

UNICEF Innovation is thrilled to be a part of Star Wars: Force for Change, a brand new Star Wars initiative from Disney and Lucasfilm in collaboration with Bad Robot dedicated to finding creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems facing children today. The first Star Wars: Force for Change campaign will raise funds and awareness for UNICEF’s innovative programs that are benefitting the world’s most vulnerable children.

We’re really excited about this initiative for a few reasons:

  1. We are huge fans. We love (good) droids, hate Stormtroopers, and think that UNICEF Innovation is a more equitable solution for a more civilized age…
    Participants at UNICEF’s first global innovation meeting in Kosovo. Photo credit: Minu Limbu, Kosovo
    Participants at UNICEF’s first global innovation meeting in Kosovo. Photo credit: Minu Limbu, Kosovo

    but seriously

  2. We do think that there are certain forces which we see binding together the work of all our innovation labs, country offices, and the great entrepreneurs and thinkers that we work with around the world.
  3. We know that a common language is needed to solve the biggest problems that we face and that audiences like the Star Wars fan base can help support that change.

I spent the last week working with a group of young change-makers at Tsinghua Univerisity in Beijing.

Tsinghua is one of the top universities in the world, and the students spent their time focusing on global problems, with local implications. This is exactly the type of collaboration that is behind Star Wars: Force for Change.

Professor Xu, of Tsinghua University, leading a class discussion on rapid prototyping. Credit: Chris Fabian
Professor Xu, of Tsinghua University, leading a class discussion on rapid prototyping. Credit: Chris Fabian

Many of the pieces of student work were related to emergencies: how do you get supplies to people in need, transform parachutes into tents, create information flows out of bricks and stones – and some looked at the future of education and learning.

Tsinghua Design for UNICEF class working on innovations in emergencies. Credit: Chris Fabian
Tsinghua Design for UNICEF class working on innovations in emergencies. Credit: Chris Fabian

These areas of inquiry are truly global issues – the need for education to change – in every country – affects us all, and affects our ability to nurture the next generation of problem solvers.

The Ewok Village. Source: http://www.shmaya.co.uk/?page_id=4
The Ewok Village. Source: http://www.shmaya.co.uk/?page_id=4

Climate change and other man-made destruction of the planet also force us all to come together around how to address disaster and emergencies. Only two weeks ago, Erica Kochi and I were working with top technology firms in San Francisco on the same set of issues.

Seeing the students from Tsinghua work together on these issues – and the commonalities between their work and our NYU Class which looked at similar issues two years ago and the First 72 Hours challenge whose winners will be announced soon reinforces the facts that

only by working across geographies, political boundaries, and technology streams can we create truly global goods.

…only by ensuring that there is always a focus on the most marginalized and difficult to reach populations can those global goods turn into global action. And

…only through the strongest support of different types of partners, bound together by a force for change, can we make certain that we are doing this work fast enough to have the impact we know it needs.

Chris
Yangshou, China
21 May, 2014

UNICEF Innovation’s new website is fully operational! Check it out here

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Join Star Wars & UNICEF Innovation to be a “Force for Change”

NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and their partnership with UNICEF

Innovations in emergencies reporting from the Philippines – First 6 days

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