On April 3-5, FUS students from our Master of Science in International Management (MSIM) program will join #VersusVirus, the 48-hour online Swiss hackathon against COVID-19. VersusVirus is a federally-supported action, initiated by Impact Hub Switzerland and partnered with several Swiss and international organizations, including FUS. Our goal is to bring people together to develop practical solutions to current challenges. Some of the diverse topics to be tackled this weekend include Crime Reduction, Isolation and Mental Health, Trustable Data vs. Fake News, Protection of Risk Groups, and Education. Inspired by the success of similar groups in Poland and Germany, and building on solutions and prototypes developed this past weekend at #CodeVsCovid19, VersusVirus will provide the platform for any interested people to join the cause and make a difference.

The #VersusVirus Hackathon is a perfect showcase for Franklin University Switzerland students to exercise their Liberal Arts Education, by exploring how to improve the human experience through critical thinking, with a multidisciplinary perspective. This is exactly why we’re here. FUS is known for giving students opportunities to learn by doing. Normally arranged through local events and academic travel, our professors consistently put students in real world situations where they can learn from important actors in major organizations. Now, we have an unprecedented occasion to go even further.

Rakhi Mehra, Adjunct Professor of MSIM, explains how it came about. “At the very thoughtful discussion Good After Covid19, Tiziano Luccarelli from the Impact Hub shared that the #VersusVirus Hackathon began in Poland and they were planning a similar Swiss initiative. I’ve worked with Impact Hub teams before, during Academic Travel in Croatia and Spain. The folks who get involved are definitely an innovative, forward-looking, dynamic group of change-makers and doers. Along with Corinne Young, the Director of MSIM, and Professor Giulia Miniero, we knew it was worth adapting it for our program on Responsible Leadership and Climate Action.”

Nine students from the MSIM program will form a team, which will then split into two groups. Assistant Professor of Marketing Giulia Miniero will supervise one group exploring the topic of Digital Transformation. The other group, supervised by Professor Mehra, will explore the topic of Climate Action and Responsible Leadership. As this is primarily a student-led initiative, a student representative will serve as spokesperson for each group. The professors will be there to support students during the hackathon and provide them with material for their challenges but the students will be the driving force.

The spokesperson for the students’ Digital Transformation group will be Konrad Zahedi (MSIM, ’21). He believes that the most important thing we can and should do right now is to keep on learning and feeding our minds with education. “Don’t stop challenging yourself and stay focused on the long-term.”

Jacqueline Lemon (MSIM, ’21) will serve as the student spokesperson for the Climate Action and Responsible Leadership group. She is looking forward to the event and wants people to realize that, “although we are stuck at home, we can still make an impact.” She adds, “This is a chance to reflect on who we are, where we are going, and what legacy we want to leave behind. This includes not only individuals, but businesses, organizations, and nations. As we see throughout this epidemic, when we all commit to addressing the challenge at hand, we can respond quickly, effectively, and efficiently. The same attention and collaboration should be given when addressing other urgent world issues such as poverty and climate change. I think our response to this epidemic will show that people, organizations and societies are capable of change, and that all actors have a role in caring for humanity and the planet.”