In a bid to foster joint efforts in tackling climate resilience issues, the partnership between Strathmore University and Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine takes center stage as the British Council launches the inaugural Learning and Design Lab under the UK-Kenya University Partnerships initiative.  The inaugural round of grants has been awarded to institutions including Rongo University (Kenya), Nottingham University Business School (UK), University of Portsmouth (UK), Strathmore University (Kenya), and Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine (UK).

This endeavour, a pivotal component of the Going Global Partnerships program, signifies a crucial stride towards combating environmental concerns through international collaboration.

The debut Learning and Design Lab stands poised to act as a conduit for students from the institutions to collaboratively devise human-centric solutions to targeted climate challenges alongside industry partners based in Kenya. Through a series of interactive workshops and immersive activities, participants will immerse themselves in experiential learning opportunities aimed at propelling tangible impact in the fight against climate change.

Monica Blagescu, Head of Education at the British Council, Kenya, said, “As we confront the urgent realities of climate change, it is essential that we empower young people to be at the forefront of sustainable solutions. By fostering collaboration between UK and Kenya universities and industry partners, we’ll not only help tackle environmental challenges but also equip young minds with the knowledge and skills to innovate for positive change.”

On his part, Prof. Izael Da Silva, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation, Strathmore University said the initiative represents a pivotal step towards fostering collaborative innovation and addressing pressing global challenges, particularly in the space of sustainability.

“The Learning and Design Labs initiative holds immense promise in driving the development of sustainable solutions through interdisciplinary collaboration and experiential learning. By bringing together students, faculty members, and industry partners from diverse backgrounds, this initiative serves as a catalyst for co-creating innovative approaches to complex environmental issues,” said Prof. Da Silva. 

From June to September 2024, Strathmore University students will join hands with their eight peers at Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, collaborating closely with local climate-focused start-ups such as Chemolex and Greenspoon, specializing in e-waste management and renewable energy. The collaboration endeavours to delve into the pressing challenges encountered by these enterprises, seeking human-centric solutions while potentially incubating novel services or products. This experience will offer the students the opportunity to confront real-world challenges, refining their skills and acquiring invaluable hands-on knowledge pivotal for their forthcoming pursuits in the professional sphere or entrepreneurial ventures.

Moreover, the Learning and Design Labs initiative pledges to forge an enabling ecosystem for institutions and individuals to thrive in cross-border cooperation. By fortifying higher education systems, the program aims to augment innovation and entrepreneurship among students and institutions alike, while facilitating deeper involvement between higher education and industry stakeholders.

Circle Innovation has been entrusted by the British Council to spearhead the Learning and Design Labs. 

Strathmore University has previously collaborated with Imperial in the creation of the Kenyan Carbon Emission Reduction Tool (KCERT 2050)  as part of its 2050 Calculator programme. The tool allows governments to trial options for reducing carbon emissions at a faster rate, empowering policy making towards net zero ambitions.

Article written by: Stephen Wakhu

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