When five UC Berkeley students assembled to enter the 2015 Emory Global Health Case Competition — the first time a Berkeley team had entered — they were not expecting to win. Nonetheless, they took the top prize at the prestigious international competition, which aims to promote awareness of and develop innovative solutions for 21st century global health issues. Twenty-four multidisciplinary teams from universities around the world competed in the challenge on Saturday, March 28, at the Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.
“The fact that they placed first among over two dozen elite universities in the United States and abroad is a testament to the innovative culture at Berkeley,” says Dr. Phuoc Le, assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary MPH Program at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, who served as a the team’s faculty adviser
The Berkeley team’s strategy was titled “Breaking the Cycle of Violence” and involved a three-pronged approach that included the promotion of public safety, job production and economic development, and community building. The team segmented the drivers of violence into macro (lack of opportunity, poor education, U.S. demand for cocaine), meso (drug flow, corruption, culture of violence), and micro (access to firearms, conflict over territory) levels. They also categorized their strategies using these levels—for example, a cash transfer to incentivize education was at the macro level, while trading guns anonymously for cash was at the micro level.
After finishing in first place in their 6-team round one, the UC Berkeley team continued on to the 4-team finals, where they gave their presentation to all eight case competition judges and in front of many of the students from other universities. For winning the competition, they received a $6,000 award.