• Innovate for a Sustainable Future

    Sustainability Innovation Program
  • About Sustainability Innovation

    Sustainability Innovation, SI, is a PBL (Project-Based Learning) event focused on sustainability issues. SI encourages participating students to explore sustainability issues in their own communities, and to actively promote sustainable innovation and creative solutions.

    With teamwork and research as the core, SI helps students combine their practical skills, problem-solving skills with sustainable development concepts, and contribute to the sustainable development of the world through practical actions.

    Since its launch in 2018, SI participants have promoted over 500 projects of various sizes across the country, covering pollution control, resource recycling, rural development, urban ecology and many other fields. Not only does it provide innovative ideas for environmental improvement, but it also continues to have a positive impact.

    Join us and contribute your wisdom and strength to the sustainable development of society and community. Let's create a better future together through sustainable innovation!

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    New Chapter

    Starting 2024, SI will also operate under the new brand Next Sustainable Idea (NSI), marking a new chapter in our mission. Under this fresh brand, we are committed to continuing our work of empowering young minds and driving innovation for sustainability.

  • Start Your Sustainability Innovation Project from the Community Around You

    Why start with the community?

    Rather than focusing on social issues that are difficult to reach "far away" and why students are concerned about them, it is more grounded to focus on the current situation and future development of the community around them.

    A student who genuinely cares about their surroundings and genuinely contributes to the development and change of their neighbouring communities is considered to have a sense of community responsibility and community care.

    Starting in 2021, the Sustainability Innovation program will stipulate that the topic (i.e., sustainability issues) must come from the local communities where the project members live and affect the actual daily lives of the project members and community members. Students are encouraged to identify, care about, and address sustainability issues in their local communities.

    How do you start your own SI Sustainability Innovation?

    Students will develop their own English-language innovation project report in the Sustainability Innovation (SI) program, which is based on the team's solutions to sustainability issues in their local communities.

    A group of 5-10 people from the same project unit/school will form a sustainability innovation project team and select an existing sustainability problem in the local community that the team wishes to solve, which needs to be in line with any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

    Through research, the team will ultimately come up with a sustainable and innovative solution to the community problem based on the SI's framework.

  • Professional perspectives

    "Sustainability has been on the agenda of universities since the Brundtland Report, so it is up to universities to ensure that the hundreds of graduates they produce are fully aware of sustainability and its role in society, and to do what they can. ”

    — Hilligje van't Land, Secretary-General of the International University Alliance and Executive Director of the International University Bureau

    "Young people should downplay their personal achievements in favor of caring for others and the common good. Sense of community service has always been an important indicator in the application of elite American schools, because the American educational philosophy has always focused on cultivating students' awareness of giving back to society and hoping that they will help others through what they have learned. ”

    "Turning the Tide: Encouraging Care and Public Welfare through College Admissions"

    Harvard University School of Education, 2019

    "If you were to ask a young student in China today what your parents' job was, what did your parents think about when they bought a house in the community, what is the social position of your community in the city, how the surrounding vegetable markets work, how the roads near the community are arranged, how your school has developed, he will usually not be able to describe it clearly. The reason why the student can't describe it clearly is that he finds it a bit boring. For example, how to get into a good university, what is the world ranking of a certain school, how to take the TOEFL/GRE, he is more familiar with this system. ”

    —Xiang Biao, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK

  • The 17 global Sustainable Development Goals promulgated by the United Nations

    (Sustainable Development Goals,SDGs)

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  • Disciplinary knowledge at Sustainability Innovation

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    Environmental Science

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    Computer Science

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  • Students' Takeaways in the Sustainability Innovation Project

    Produce a sustainable innovation project report in English

    It can be used as a supplement to the application or as an academic experience.

    Obtain a certificate of sustainable innovation project

    Outstanding project teams can obtain corresponding achievement certificates and participation certificates with their works. Certificates are awarded on a team basis, and each member of the team will receive a certificate.

    Improve your problem-solving skills

    Students will improve their problem-solving skills with professional support, which can be applied in future studies and applications.

    Learn practical design thinking methods

    Study the design thinking course of the Stanford School of Design, master the methods of design thinking, and propose sustainable and innovative solutions, which can be applied to future studies.

  • Global Partners

    Sustainability Innovation为学生提供更大的舞台

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    World Future Energy Summit

    The World Future Energy Summit is the world's most important annual conference, dedicated to driving innovation, business and investment opportunities in the field of new energy through the power of political, business, financial and academic leaders to respond to the growing demand for future energy. Initiated by the Abu Dhabi government and state-owned renewable energy company MASDAR, the World Future Energy Summit is held annually at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and has been successfully held for eight times since 2008. Every year, more than 600 new energy institutions, more than 25,000 professionals, representatives from more than 150 countries and more than 700 international media from nearly 50 countries will attend the conference. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and the Queen of Jordan have all attended the World Future Energy Summit and delivered important speeches, highlighting the summit's top position in the field of global sustainable development, as well as global and Chinese attention and support for new energy and sustainable development.

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    Zayed Future Energy Prize

    The Zayed Future Energy Prize is a global-level energy award established by the UAE government in the name of Zayed, the Founding Father of the UAE, to reward and inspire individuals and youth who have made outstanding contributions to energy innovation and sustainable development on a global scale. Past winners include the former Vice President of the United States, the former Prime Minister of Norway, the General Electric Group, the BYD Group, and high school students from South Korea, Africa, Brazil, and Canada. Innovative projects in the energy field with outstanding performance in SI will be recommended to participate in the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

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    World Conservation Congress

    The World Conservation Congress (WEF) is the world's largest and highest-level environmental protection conference, organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world's largest international environmental protection organization, and has a history of 68 years. Held every four years, the conference gathers nearly 10,000 delegates from all over the world, including heads of government, officials of international organizations and environmental protection experts, to discuss and learn the world's most cutting-edge environmental protection knowledge, technology and experience, and to provide the most cutting-edge environmental protection information for all sectors of society. This year's dignitaries included Prince Albert II of Morocco, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and Marco Lambertini, Secretary-General of WWF, among others.

  • Proposer and judge of sustainability innovation projects

    Partially invited from

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    IUCN Nature For All

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    China Youth Climate Action Network

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    The Nature Conservancy

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    Peach Blossom Paradise Foundation

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    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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    Tongji University

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    Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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    Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

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    Duke University

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    Duke Kunshan University

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    Johnson Controls

  • Caring about sustainable development, demonstrating community care, social responsibility, innovation and problem-solving skills

  • Participant voices

    "We used water pollution as a starting point, and all the original hypothetical theories were overturned after argumentation and research. There is no absolute answer to the problem of water pollution, but we want to experiment and test to achieve satisfactory results. After completing a long-form innovation project, the result doesn't matter for a moment, because our team has grown so much in the process. ”

    "We learned about this program from the previous competition, and the school did not have a dedicated AP environment, so we felt that we had no advantage. At that time, I sent an email asking how to start, and the teacher suggested that we should find clues from life. So the team unanimously decided to make a better solution for campus waste disposal. After deciding on the topic, we enlisted the help of the school's teachers in chemistry and other subjects, and took the time to study and research. Compared with some of the activities I participated in in the first year of high school, this experience is very precious and necessary for my personal independent thinking and logic. ”

    "I would especially recommend the younger students to try the innovation project, which is a very helpful project activity to improve their self-ability. As long as we want to do this, we will definitely find inspiration from the surroundings, and we will definitely come up with different solutions. Stepping out of your comfort zone will give you a new chance. ”

  • 2023-2024 Sustainability Innovation Timeline


    Project Registration

    February 20 - June 20, 2024

    Students from the same school/institution form teams of 5 to 10.


    Project Implementation

    Before August 31, 2024

    After team formation, teams proceed to embark on their own project:

    • Select project topic, conduct research, design solutions, produce project video log, etc.
    • Learn the Stanford Design Thinking method through online course.
    • Request mentor critique. Each team is entitled one topic review and two mentor critiques.

    Project Submission

    September 1 to 20, 2024

    Teams perform a final check and revisions of their project report and Vlog and complete the project submission.


    Result Announcement

    Before October 31, 2024

    The judging panel evaluates all projects globally and officially announce the results.

  • Read about Sustainable Innovation

    Continuously updating

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    Empower Students to Meet The Global Challenges of Today and Tomorrow

    In 2015, the United Nations put forward seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, clearly stating that from 2015 to 2030, the international community should address the three dimensions of development - social, economic and environmental - with a unified standard and strive for a common global shift toward sustainable development.


    The Sustainability Innovation follows the UN Sustainable Development Goals and encourages students to contribute to global sustainable environmental issues raised by SDGs.

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    ‘Long-term Thinking’ Advocated by Universities and Social Elites

    "Sustainable development has become an important agenda for universities since the Brundtland Report, so it is up to universities to ensure that they produce hundreds of graduates who fully understand sustainable development and its role in society, and do what they can."

    ——Hilligje van't Land

    Secretary General of the International Association of Universities

    Executive Director of the International Universities Bureau


    Among the top 50 universities in the QS World University Rankings, 80% of universities have formulated sustainable development strategies, plans and operations.

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    Participant’s Voice

    "I would especially advise students to try the innovation activities, which is a very helpful project to improve the self-competence. As long as we want to do this, we will discover inspiration from our surroundings and come up with different solutions. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to give yourself a new chance."

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    Become Future Green Leaders

    Sustainability Innovation is dedicated to training future green leaders by providing students with the opportunity to solve sustainable development issues, helping them integrate their practical skills and problem-solving abilities with sustainable development theories, and contribute to the global sustainable development through practical actions.

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    Start With Community Around Us

    In 2016, the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report titled "Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admission" which pointed to a shift in admissions requirements for applicants to top universities - the youth should focus less on personal achievements and more on caring for others and the common good. Sense of community service has long been an important indicator in applications to global top universities.


    Sustainability Innovation encourages students to care about their surroundings and contribute to the change of neighboring communities. Their sense of community responsibility and community care will be demonstrated during the process of envisioning and implementing the Sustainability Innovation program.

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    Sustainable Practices at Top Universities

    Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT, Yale University, Princeton University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Cornell University and other well-known universities have established the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development Management. Harvard University, MIT and Cambridge University have also established their sustainability websites to publish information and news about their activities to enhance students' awareness of sustainable development.

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    Understanding Sustainability Innovation

    As the global leader in high technology with a history of more than 100 years in sustainability, Honeywell announced in April 2021 its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality goals for all business operations and facilities by 2035.


    Approximately 50 percent of Honeywell's new product development starts with improving the environmental performance and social benefits. In addition, Honeywell's low-carbon products and energy-saving solutions for buildings are widely used in airports, office buildings, factories, shopping centers, hospitals and many other fields.


    More and more examples show us that sustainable development is becoming an inevitable choice for global development, and that sustainability is becoming a new frontier for innovation.

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    A Project-based Learning Experience

    Sustainability Innovation Program requires students to develop their own innovation project report by identifying sustainability issues in their local community and designing reasonable solutions. SI provides students with the opportunity to identify and solve sustainability issues around them through teamwork and research, helping them to combine their practical and problem-solving skills with sustainable development, and to contribute to the world's sustainable development through their actions.


    It is a project based on concern for sustainability issues in the local community, where students will engage in an in-depth sustainability learning experience through Sustainability Innovation. This project-based learning is a student-led learning method, which allows students to acquire new knowledge and skills through research, inquiry and commitment to solving problems and challenges with an innovative approach.

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    What students get out of the SI?

    • A full-length Sustainability Innovation report
    • Certificate of participation and awards in Sustainability Innovation
    • Improving problem-solving skills and design thinking skills
    • Passion and skills demonstrated in the Sustainability Innovation would be a good story students can tell to the college admission officers.
    • Opportunity to attend the Sustainability Innovation annual presentation
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    Design Thinking Courses and Skills

    Sustainability Innovation will provide participants with design thinking courses of the Institute of Design at Stanford University. The courses will help participants master the design thinking skills and in turn learn to design solutions for Sustainability Innovation.


    What is design thinking? Design thinking is essentially a human-centred approach to problem solving. It is the process of problem identification and problem solving, which breaks down limitations to continually derive the nature of the problem.


    As innovation becomes the core competency in all industries, design thinking is becoming more widely popular, and it is practised effectively in business, literature, science, education and other fields. Design Thinking helps students develop analytical skills, problem-solving abilities and helps them integrate the different parts into a system.

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    2020-2021 Superior Award Project

    One Rip Away From Saving the Marine: More Sustainable Approach to Deal with Disposable Medical Masks

    ——BASIS International School Guangzhou


    In order to improve the current situation of the overuse of disposable medical masks due to COVID-19, the team of BASIS International School Guangzhou developed multiple solutions. After reading academic essays, visiting research institutes, analyzing survey about public awareness on the mask situation, and interviewing specialists from related industries, they developed solutions on various aspects: technological, managerial, and promotional.


    It is worth mentioning that they advocate "Break It" action, which has a three-step procedure for disposing medical disposable masks in a more environmentally friendly way. Step one: pull the ear loops of the mask off; step two: tear and rip the masks apart; step three: throw the fractured mask away.


    Judge Comments

    "Congrats on exploring a very timely topic. I commend the team on a thorough use of references and citations while you have summarized the issue. I also really appreciated that the team thought about a large and complex issue, but then broke it down to what is practical as a school student as part of your criteria with 'capability'. I also applaud the teams action plan as well as the many efforts they did on the ground to move their ideas – this type of passion behind action will serve you all well in the future! Congrats!"

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    What is the Study of STS?

    An Arena for Dialogue Among Students of Engineering, Humanities, The Natural Sciences and The Social Sciences.


    Science, Technology & Society(STS) is one of almost forty Interdisciplinary Programs at Stanford.

    Science, Technology and Society (STS) is one of almost forty interdisciplinary programs at Stanford. A common ground where ideas that transcend the divisions between fields are not merely envisioned, but practiced: the Program in Science, Technology and Society is a dynamic interdisciplinary major that provides students with a liberal arts education for the 21st century.


    It is a trend not only at Stanford University but also at top universities in the world to offer interdisciplinary programs.

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    About Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

    The interdisciplinary arts and sciences education crosses the boundaries between traditional disciplines to tackle problems that require a diverse set of methods and concepts. It is designed for highly motivated students who want a well-rounded and challenging education in the arts, social and natural sciences to prepare themselves for the ever-changing world of work in the 21st century. The Interdisciplinary Arts and Science program offers valuable experience and research skills for issues of personal and public concern.


    In Sustainability Innovation program, we provide students with an interdisciplinary learning experience in which they can acquire and apply knowledge in the engineering, environmental science, biology, physics, chemistry, computer science and geography, while acquiring technical skills along with an understanding of the history of science as well as the values and economic forces that guide technological change.

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    Tell Your SI Story to College Admission Officers

    By participating in the Sustainability Innovation program, you will work with your team members to solve sustainable development issues in an investigative way. Your practical, problem-solving skills are combined with the concept of sustainable development to contribute to the world's sustainable development in a practical way.


    Therefore, you will have more stories and material to tell college admission officers:

    • The interdisciplinary ability and experience you gain from SI
    • Your ability to solve real-world problems
    • Your potential to grow into the future green leader
    • Your interest in and contribution to your community
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    Academic Support

    The Sustainability Innovation ProjectGuide system will guide students in developing a project plan to solving the sustainable issues in line with the professional framework.


    You will learn to:

    • Develop a deep understanding of sustainability and the root cause of issues
    • Choose a viable plan to address sustainable development issues
    • Analyze the sustainability and availability of your selected solution
    • Design the prototype of solution and develop an iterative solution


    Unde the guidance of SI, you will gain the sustainable mindset and perspective and get academic advising from professional tutors, which will help you to achieve sustainable academic development and improve your problem-solving skills.

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    Understanding Sustainability Innovation

    Harvard’s Sustainability Plan, adopted in 2014, was created in partnership with faculty, students, and staff to align the University around a holistic vision and five-year roadmap for enhancing the well-being of the campus community. In addtion, Harvard University has articulated a climate sustainable action plan of achieving "Fossil Fuel-Neutral" in the short term by 2026 and "Fossil Fuel-Free" in the long term by 2050. Harvard University has tested promising innovation solutions that move the world away from fossil fuels.


    Harvard University's experience of sustainable innovation demonstrates that sustainability innovation requires clarity about your sustainable development goals and developing a detailed and implementable program to achieve them.

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    Why I Need A PBL Experience in High School?

    Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a learning strategy that encourages students to solve real problems organized in working groups. In PBL, the problem or project is the milestone of the whole learning process. The project is the way in which students learn different skills.


    Sustainability Innovation prepares students for academic, personal, study achievements through PBL and readies young students to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit. Students work on a project over a period of time that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question.


    In Sustainability Innovation program, students make connections with the real world through in-depth project research, they can get their own unique project experiences and stories. They also demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a innovative solution to sustainable development issues and gain the ability to solve problems and continuously improve themselves.

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    The Integration of Framework, Process and Methodology

    The framework adopted by SI is Design Thinking, which guides how students should complete the process of the SI project step by step and what methods they should use to complete it.


    The framework corresponds highly to the methodology so that students can build a set of knowledge and skill that can be applied in practice, and develop the mindset of problem-solving.


    Based on these results, SI unifies framework, process and methodology so that students can intuitively follow the framework to complete the project step by step and solve the problem in a certain way of thinking based on the guidance of the methodology during the process, making it possible to generate a global strategy for continuous improvement.


    In this sense, the SI framework = the SI process = the SI methodology.

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    2020-2021 Superior Award Project

    A Systematic Solution for Rainfall Management and Utilization: Active, Beautiful and Clean Sponge Community


    ——Nanjing Foreign Language School


    In recent years, Nanjing's economy has grown rapidly, and it is facing the problem of water shortage. In order to ensure the healthy and sustainable development of Nanjing, how to solve the effective use of urban rainwater has become an important issue in development.


    The integration of rainwater gathering and utilization, rainwater management, and environmental landscape of communities is a complex project. The team of Nanjing Foreign Language School assessed solutions from construction cost, economic benefit, environmental benefit, ecological benefit, and public acceptance, finally determining the action plan of constructing sponge communities. They put forward strategies of rainwater utilization fit for residential areas in Nanjing according to raining characteristics, soil traits, current management of rainfall in communities, and concepts of sponge cities. In order to alleviate waterlogging, they called for increasing amount of natural infiltration of rainwater. Gathering and reusing rainwater resources in communities can not only contribute to existing water problems, but also conform to concept of ecological sustainable development.


    The 3D graph of the comprehensive sponge facilities in the community


    Judge Comments

    "It is great to see the team explore a challenging urban planning topic – integrated stormwater management in this case. As the team identified in the document, it is hard to fathom how a place with abundant rainfall can at the same time have water shortage.

    I appreciate that the team has properly set the context for this work, including through identification of rainfall of other weather characteristics of Nanjing. I also appreciate how the sections have been adequately referenced when the information has come from external sources. The efforts taken to be context specific and to identify what works and would not work within any community is also commendable......"

  • Admission of Alumni from Past Project (Partial)

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    Princeton University


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    University of Cambridge

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    Dartmouth College

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    Duke University

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    Carnegie Mellon University
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    Stanford University

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    University of Michigan
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    Cornell University
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    University of California, Berkeley
  • The project leverages blockchain-based electronic certificates.

    Support sustainable development with practical actions, and facilitate the unified query of certificates by universities around the world