Why academic partnerships?

Academic partnerships bring shared value to universities and UNICEF through the exchange of ideas, joint capacity building, and opportunities for applied research. There are opportunities to work with universities along a spectrum of engagement ranging from very small, time-bound events, such as being a guest critic in a class, to things that are a bit more intensive, such as co-teaching a semester-long course, to partnerships that are happening at institutional scale, such as an Innovation Lab. We’ve found consistently that these relationships are about building up a community of practice and practitioners and connecting with a new generation of problem solvers.

Academic Partnerships menu-08

What is included here?
We have documented and pulled together related resources and experiences to help evaluate opportunities to engage locally with academia and provide operational details to set up a variety of partnerships.* Please note that all outcomes of collaborations with academia should be open-source and in the public domain.

Global Framework for Academic Partnerships (pdf) – structure and criteria for selection of global partners.

1. Institutional: Institutional partnerships are integrated collaborations that involve joint workplans, sharing of facilities and resources, and are generally formalized with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). A common example is joint creation of an Innovation Lab, as UNICEF Offices have done with Tsinghua University in China and Lebanese American University in Lebanon.

2. Research team: All collaborative research undertaken by UNICEF Innovation is open and in the public domain. Current projects include biotechnology R&D with Rhodes University to develop a breakthrough medical diagnostic tool to a team of graduate students at Villanova designing the next iteration of solar technology for Burundi’s Project Lumiere program. Please email nmaki@unicef.org for specific documentation and resources.

3. Design for UNICEF Course: The Design for UNICEF Course is generally a semester­-long university class open to students from a variety of disciplines, which teaches them how to apply creativity and design thinking towards pressing development and humanitarian problems. The course is typically taught or co­- taught by a UNICEF colleague or team, and iterations have been taught at NYU ITP, Tsinghua University in China, Stanford University, and IIT Delhi, among others.

4/5. Challenges & Workshops: Design challenges and workshops can be great ways to engage talent, explore potential partnerships, and generate ideas around a specific problem. However, running a formal Challenge often requires a lot of planning and operational resources. We have put together a toolkit and some ready-to-use challenge statements to streamline this process.

6. Interns & Volunteers

*This is a growing collection of resources that will benefit from CO feedback and additions. Please email contributions or questions to Norah Maki.