Jason Wu/Sun Staff Photographer

Competitors present at the Global Health Case Competition, Call Auditorium, February 19, 2022.

February 24, 2022

Students Unite to Address Rising Challenges of Climate Change at Eighth Annual Global Health Case Competition

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On Feb. 19, 23 teams of Cornell undergraduate and graduate students competed in the University’s Eighth annual Global Health Case Competition, hosted by the University’s Global Health Program and Global Health Student Advisory Board.

The competition offered Cornell undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to develop creative solutions addressing this year’s topic: A Storm’s A-Comin! Implementing Hurricane Disaster Preparedness Strategies in a Changing Global Climate. 

With the effects of climate change intensifying, the Global Health Student Advisory Board chose this topic to highlight the increasing severity and relevance of climate change.

There are many health problems related to climate change and environmental destruction. 

“As time goes on, if we do not handle or find interventions for these sorts of problems, they will overwhelm our society,” said Consuelo Le ’22, lead coordinator of GHSAB. 

Participants in the case competition acted as representatives for the Dominican Republic with a budget of $50 million to research, develop and establish solutions surrounding environmental disaster preparedness. Teams spent the week leading up to the event meeting on their own time and utilizing office hours to develop interventions geared towards disaster preparedness in the Dominican Republic. 

For many undergraduate students, the competition was their first time exercising all steps of a public health plan, which takes into consideration budget, worker safety, dignity and cultural competence, according to Le.

The competition gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves into a global health challenge far beyond the surface level that is explored in some classes. 

“The competition allows people to get into the idea of representing a country or being attached to things that could really happen. There is more context necessary for this as opposed to other classroom experiences,” said Samuel Jett, grad, who was part of this year’s winning team. 

Jett was accompanied by Ashley Lewis, grad, Connie Hou ’22 and Chloe Hasund ’22. 

The team’s solution involved a twofold approach that emphasized disaster preparation and unified response to minimize economic loss and structural damages. 

The team allocated funds toward coral reef conservation efforts because reefs can ac flood protection. Pre-hurricane preparation also included education, logistic and communication efforts. 

The team chose drones as a tool for immediate relief; they employed soccer and baseball stadiums as temporary shelters. The team also created a logistical plan for monitoring and evaluating the disaster response, with the intention to scale successful aspects of the intervention to other areas of the country over time. 

Not only does the competition allow for creative exploration and the real-world application of global health topics, but it segues into other skills including public speaking, confidence and collaboration.

One of the most profound aspects of the competition is also the opportunity to learn from the various perspectives of students across many disciplines at Cornell, according to the competition’s website.

“One of my favorite parts of the competition is hearing the diversity of solutions that are presented,” Le said. 

With over 80 participants, the case competition brings together a breadth of ideas. 

“The teams look at the problem in different ways,” Le said. “Many of them frame the solution as an evolution over time or with a backstory so that you know it impacts real people’s lives, and it’s not just an exercise that could never be implemented.” 
The winning team will compete at the international Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition this March, which will be held on Zoom due to COVID safety precautions. This competition brings together students from numerous countries and backgrounds to address another real-world global health problem.