When actor Gene Wilder first sang the lyrics of, “Pure Imagination,” as the lead role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, he probably wasn’t referring to global collaboration. Or was he?
“If you want to view paradise. Simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world, there’s nothing to it”
While he might have been talking about stretching limits in terms of chocolate fountains and edible flowers (at least on the surface), in today’s landscape of limitless borders and mind-numbing technology, the words are as applicable as ever.
With just a few keystrokes at any time of the day, we’re able to communicate and engage with people from across the globe … and great things are happening! Take a look at how some people are changing the world through global collaboration. It’s a modern day version of paradise – simply look around and view it.
ePals Corporation Educational Collaboration
This free global learning network connects students and educators in over 200 countries and territories. When teachers are looking for collaborative projects, they are able to obtain instant access to community forums, and can join in on meaningful discussions while interacting with thousands of other like-minded participants online.
One of the biggest ePals initiatives is the Spark! Lab Invent It Challenge, an annual collaborative competition that encourages K-12 students all over the globe to identify and solve real world problems. Partnering with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, contestants must follow very specific steps in the invention process, including problem identification, research, prototype building and testing, product marketing and demonstrations, among others.
Since its inception three years ago, the Challenge has honored students in a number of categories who have invented technologies like: a “turbo scraper” for vehicle snow and ice removal; a portable transport vehicle for children and elderly refugees fleeing conflict and famine; a water conservation device; and a “sand sleeve” wrist guard to steady the hands of the elderly.
To find out more about past winners, or if you just want to be inspired, visit ePal’s collaborative learning network.
Saving Lives Through Collaboration – National Institute of Health (NIH)
The science community isn’t exactly known for being open with information. In fact, pharmaceutical companies and testing facilities spend millions of dollars every year to insure secrecy when it comes to what’s going on in their laboratories and under their microscope.
And then there’s the NIH, which has partnered with nonprofit organizations and 10 biopharmaceutical companies in a most unexpected way. The goal of their Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is to, “distinguish biological targets of disease most likely to respond to new therapies and characterize biological indicators of disease, known as biomarkers.” Say what?
To those of us who are not scientists, this means that over a period of five years, this group will collaborate in a most unusual way – by actually sharing data and analyses within the biomedical community – in hopes of finding new therapies for a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disorders.
“By unifying scientists through this innovative approach, AMP brings together key players to address the challenges of drug discovery and development,” said Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., President of Worldwide Research and Development of Pfizer. “This type of novel collaboration will leverage the strengths of both industry and NIH to ensure we expedite translation of scientific knowledge into next generation therapies.”
If you want to find out more about this initiative, check out the NIH Collaboration.
A True Global Collaboration – International Space Station
Perhaps one of the most well known examples of global collaboration is the International Space Station (ISS), which is the result of a partnership between 15 nations. This initiative laid the foundation for space-based commerce, creating a human outpost in space and advancing solar system exploration, as well as science related education and discovery.
Roughly the size of a football field, the ISS is a $100 billion research laboratory, weighing in at a whopping 460 tons. Orbiting 240 miles above the earth, it is the largest artificial body in orbit – five times larger than the U.S. Skylab, and four times larger than the Russian space station Mir. Since November 2000, it has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of cosmonauts and astronauts.
Most recently, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins returned to earth after 166 days in space, along with Soyuz TMA-10M commander Oleg Kotov and flight engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy. Remaining in orbit will be Koichi Wakata, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio. Wakata notably became the first Japanese astronaut to command the station after he took over for Kotov.
For ISS news and live coverage, visit NASA.
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Collaboration
When it comes to tackling such problems as rural poverty and food insecurity, there’s nobody doing it like CGIAR, which is a global partnership involving 15 research centers and almost 10,000 scientists and staff members from around the world.
With a goal of obtaining a food-secure future, CGIAR is dedicated to improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources by collaborating with civil society organizations, research institutes, the private sector and academia.
One example of a CGIAR success story is Joseph Macharia, who has become known as the Kenyan Facebook Farmer. Through social media, Macharia continues to unite communities and engage followers, demonstrating how young people can get involved in agriculture. By exploring such topics as crop varieties and soil productivity, Macharia has increased interest in the business of agriculture, illustrating how it can actually be profitable for so many.
To read more about his inspiring story, or to see other CGIAR success stories, visit the CGIAR Stories of Change.
Global Collaboration: Help Us Share Amazing Stories
Have you heard of an amazing global collaboration? Or even better, have you been a part of one? What did you learn, and how did it go? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments.