The Geneva Tsinghua Initiative (GTI) was established in 2016 in response to the call to action of the 2030 Agenda, making it the first in the world to provide comprehensive education programmes for the SDGs. The initiative is a partnership between the University of Geneva, with its strong ties to international organizations, and Tsinghua University, China’s top university with its main campus in Beijing’s high-tech corridor, and another in Shenzhen, heart of the Chinese manufacturing ecosystem. The initiative aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders who are equipped with the theoretical knowledge and skill sets required to tackle the complicated social and environmental challenges facing the world today.
The GTI provides innovative education programmes that address the SDGs in a practical, hands-on way. All programmes adopt a modern approach to open innovation characterized by a focus on challenge-based learning inspired by real-world problems, as well as collaboration through multidisciplinary and multicultural teams. GTI created the Solution Space and the SDG FabLab that houses a range of digital fabrication technologies and other tools for quick prototyping of frugal innovations. The SDG Solution Space now hosts a burgeoning ecosystem for SDG innovations in Geneva. In 2019, a sister SDG Solution Space was established at iCenter at Tsinghua University.
All the GTI educational activities are designed with international exchange as a key component, between Switzerland and China, but also towards a network in other parts of the world, called United Labs for the Global Goals. GTI programmes range from a two-week innovation exchange that bridges young social entrepreneurs from around the world to a 2.5 years Dual Degree Master Programme that leads to a Master in Innovation, Human Development and Sustainability (MIHDS) and Master in Human Development, Innovation and Sustainability and Master of Public Policy for Sustainable Development Goals (MPP-SDG). The GTI also runs the SDG Accelerator, which provides support to GTI student projects to scale up through the different innovation phases, aiming to achieve social impact and to allow students to learn about innovation as a discipline, while developing their own ideas.