Sixty Stanford students and Bay Area judges came together for presentations at Google Headquarters in Mountain View yesterday for the Stanford class Designing Research-based Interventions to Solve Global Health Problems. Culminating weeks of research and development, these presentations capture TeachAIDS’s annual commitment to engaging graduate and undergraduate students alike in real-world social entrepreneurship experiences.Guided by the TeachAIDS teaching team, the groups of three to four students each took on a challenge: strategizing the creation and circulation of a new TeachAIDS curriculum for a country in need. To begin exploring the endless possibilities of entrepreneurship, students engaged with guest lecturers from exemplary social initiatives. Representatives from Google, Shape Security, Aravind Eye Care, PharmaJet and the Emergency Management and Research Institute shared their visions, stories and reflections with students. “This course will teach you critical skills applicable to any entrepreneurial endeavor, including the fundamentals of scaling up and of interacting with various stakeholders,” said Kendall Costello ‘20. Kendall plans to study Symbolic Systems. The students also learned storytelling techniques from Doug Scott, the founder and creative director of Advocate Creative, an internationally award-winning creative marketing agency that builds brands for premier nonprofit organizations. “Often, students immerse themselves in data and procedures while forgetting about a critical aspect: communication,” said Sandro Luna ‘18, who studies Human Biology. “The emphasis on communication helped tie all the lessons together."
The opportunity to apply these lessons arose when teams of three to four students each took on a challenge: strategizing the creation and dissemination of a new TeachAIDS curriculum within a country assigned to them.The students’ research centered around the context of the HIV epidemic in their target country, the barriers to circulating effective health education, and the best implementation pathways they could use. Collecting dozens of interviews with stakeholders from all over the world, students synthesized diverse perspectives ranging from Stanford professors to ministry of education officials, from foreign citizens to health communication consultants.
To prepare for their final presentations at Google HQ, students presented sections of their research to scholars and industry experts, representing organizations like Amazon, Coursera and Gilead Sciences.“We ourselves were given the chance to engage hands-on with the organization,” said Mia Hoover ‘18, who studies English. “I have come away from this experience with a much greater appreciation for the diversity of and within the countries struggling with AIDS and a better understanding of how important cultural sensitivity is in implementing global projects.” Students at the final presentation session received feedback from multidisciplinary experts including Dr. Laura Hubbard, Associate Director of Stanford’s Center for African Studies. “I was impressed by students’ willingness to truly listen to hard questions and not rely on easy answers, but to grapple with nuance and complexity on their feet,” Dr. Hubbard said. “The curious and open engagement by students across disciplines, in teams, is not just critical, but transformative.”