Events and Workshops

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We host in-person and virtual innovation challenges which combine companies, designers, engineers and entrepreneurial students to turn ideas into prototypes within 48 hours. In 2022, we will host the Blue Economy Challenge for over 100 Japanese young innovators with support from the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. Read about previous collaborative virtual challenges such as the 2020 InnoDays #Micromobility & Social Equity challenge sponsored by the EDF Innovation Lab and co-hosted by UC Berkeley with 80+ undergraduate and graduate students from Europe, the US, and Asia and 40+ expert mentors from industry and university partners. Read about the 2020 InnoDays #circulareconomy sponsored by the circular plastics company Plasticpreneur with 24 teams of undergraduate and graduate students competing in Fashion, Health, Education, Sports & Leisure, Construction & Infrastructure and 40+ mentors with several local experts from Southeast Asia and Africa. 

In person innovation challenges run with partners include preparing for volcanic eruptions, preventing ocean plastics, addressing the energy-water-food nexus and more. Read about the Bali Nexus Design Challenge,  Bulkanomiya Design Challenge, and Timor Leste Arts Challenge


We host in-person and virtual 3-4 day bootcamps for social entrepreneurs in Asia. These bootcamps strengthen connections amongst stakeholders in a startup ecosystem through innovative programming and sharing of resources and expertise. Starting in 2020, our virtual Bluepreneurs bootcamp supports blue solutions in the oceans and waters of Southeast Asia. This bootcamp co-designed, co-delivered, and co-judged by EWC Teaching Fellows (#EWCteachingfellows) connected 60 participants organized around Plastics & Upcycling, Sustainable Fishing, Agriculture, Disaster Resilience, Ecotourism, and WASH and 12 mentors from TechStars Asia, Google, Malaysian Startup Accelerator MaGIC, USAID SEA Project, & the US Embassy Malaysia. The bootcamp will be offered again in 2021 with funding and support from the EWC.

#EWCearthoptimism Awards

YSEALI Fellows #EarthOptimism and EWC alumni selected as EWC Teaching Fellows  run an awards program known as the EWC #EarthOptimism Awards: Southeast Asia that YSEALI fellows created in 2020 to “recognize the achievements of people of Southeast Asia who made a positive difference to the environment.

EWC Debates

This unique program offers a more interactive use of online platforms for learning as well as increasing the visibility of YSEALI through integrating 21 YSEALI fellows into a series of eight (8) debates on Environmental Issues, along with resources on how to communicate articulately, and pitch for funding effectively, and skills-based webinars on international business marketing and fund/grant management for social impact business development.

The East-West Center is proud to have program guests from Eco-businessSan Diego Zoo Wildlife AllianceCollege of Humanities and Sciences-Philosophy, University of MontanaEarth CompanyPlanetary Health AllianceDuke University's Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy SolutionsGlobal Muslim Climate Network and Interfaith Power and Light on #YSEALI-EWC Virtual Institute Spring 2021. It is also a collaboration with Breaking Silos and YSEALI/EWC alumna Sofiah Jamil, Co-Founder of Hornbills: Concepts and Communications.


YSEALI Debate 1: How should climate change be addressed?

Guest speaker:

Anne MooreSustainability Consulting and Partnerships Manager, Eco-business

This episode debates different approaches to addressing climate change including the approach of the Liveability Challenge. This innovation competition co-developed by Jeffrey Tong (EWC/YSEALI 2015) is creating greater awareness of how innovation can address climate change and helps innovators scale their inventions. Finalists will compete for the grand prize of up to S$1 million in grant in funding for project development by Temasek Foundation, a minimum of $50,000 investment by Planet Rise, a $50,000 investment by Amasia and $50,000 investment by Silverstrand Capital. Questions for discussion include: What type of innovations should be prioritized? Would investing in climate justice be a better use of resources? How can we ensure the most vulnerable benefit from new innovations? Is climate change a problem that can be solved?


YSEALI Debate 2: How should we prevent a “6th mass extinction”?

Guest Speaker:

Lauren Lee, Certified Informal Educator, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

This episode debates how America’s most well-known zoo is using cutting edge science to prevent extinction of critically endangered animals and recently brought a previously extinct animal back to life after a 50+ year absence. Questions for discussion include: Will this remain an expensive process for wealthy countries? Who will decide which animals should be saved or revived and why (e.g. social, ecological, entertainment value)? Could such breakthroughs undermind funding and support for conventional conservation (e.g. setting aside large preserves or Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)? 


YSEALI Debate 3: How can we improve nature?

Guest Speaker:

Christopher Preston, Professor of Philosophy, College of Humanities and Sciences University of Montana and author of The Synthetic Age

This episode debates inventions such as nanotechnology, CRISPR, de-extinction, and climate engineering that could fundamentally alter our planet and in turn how we see ourselves from protectors to shapers of the earth's systems. Questions for discussion include: Which if any of these inventions should we deploy? Who should decide? Where should they be deployed? Which is more irresponsible: to experiment with them or ignore their potential in the face of climate change and negative environmental trends?


YSEALI Debate 4:  How can tourism ever truly become sustainable?

Guest Speaker:

Tomo Hamakawa, EWC alumni & Co-Founder of Earth Company

This episode debates initiatives in promoting sustainable tourism and the challenges they face in the wake of the global pandemic including their series Asia’s Next Gen Hotels. Earth Company is an impact-driven social enterprise that offers transformational support to change-makers, delivers inspiring educational programs, provides professional consulting services, and manages a next generation eco hotel in Ubud, Bali called Mana Earthly Paradise. Questions explored during this session include: What are fundamental elements needed in promoting sustainable tourism? What are the common challenges in establishing sustainable tourism initiatives? Is sustainable tourism only a middle to upper-class recreational activity?


YSEALI Debate 5: How should we prevent pandemics? 

Guest Speaker:

Jeremy Pivor, Senior Program Coordinator, Harvard’s Planetary Health Alliance

This episode debates how to prevent pandemics and a Planetary Health approach. Included in this discussion will be opportunities with the PHA including their Next Generation Network including starting or joining a planetary health student club at fellow’s universities, applying to the Planetary Health Campus Ambassador program, or representing the youth voice in a PHA Regional Hub. Questions for discussion include: What role did environmental issues play in causing the COVID-19 pandemic? Can another pandemic be prevented? Can existing conservation tools prevent pandemics?


YSEALI Debate 6: Is it possible to balance global demands for energy, water, and food?

Guest Speaker:
Jackson Ewing, Senior Fellow, Duke University's Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions

This episode debates the energy-water-food nexus. Questions to be explored include what are the links between energy, water and food? How can global access to food, energy and water be achieved effectively? What are the pros and cons of a plant-based food industry?


YSEALI Debate 7: Can faith help us achieve climate justice?

Guest Speaker:

Nana Firman, Co-Founder of Global Muslim Climate Network

Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power and Light

This episode debates the role of faith communities in achieving climate justice. Questions for discussion include: What does faith have to do with climate justice? How have faith-based communities in the US made an impact in addressing environmental challenges? What are the challenges in getting faith communities to be involved in climate action?


YSEALI Debate 8: How can we negotiate conservation spaces with indigineous communities and embrace environmental justice? 

Guest Speaker:

Kara Puketapu-Dentice, Director for Economy & Development at Hutt City Council in Wellington New Zealand

This episode debates the emphasis on how the changing perceptions around indigenous communities’ land and marine management can impact environmental justice. He shares how Hutt City Council puts the environmental front and center in its community development and public infrastructure plans. Questions for discussion include: Should certain communities receive preferential treatment in environmental policy? Should indigenous management practices and worldviews be integrated into current policy? What have been the challenges in achieving consensus and collaboration amongst various stakeholders? What role does technology have in addressing indigenous communities' concerns?


Program Contact

Lance Boyd
Senior Experiential Leadership Education Specialist
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (808) 944-7477