National Chi Nan University and five other universities were recognized with the USR Best Practice Award at the inaugural University Social Responsibility Expo held by the Ministry of Education in July.
NCNU has been working with neighboring communities and businesses in Puli Township on issues including air pollution, water purification, and economic development of indigenous groups before the concept of University Social Responsibility (USR) was fully developed as a strategy for advancing higher education in Taiwan.
By empowering local residents to run their businesses with knowledge of local strengths and regional ecology and the applications of new technology, NCNU is creating a network from which local communities can learn and benefit accordingly from the university’s research. Students also participate in these coordinated projects, which in turn advance their practical know-how and professional work etiquette.
Take, for example, a recent project conducted by NCNU in response to worsening air conditions and growing allergy symptoms in central Taiwan. An NCNU team invented a small sensor that could detect fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and installed the device at over 250 places across central Taiwan. Now residents are alerted when air pollutants exceed recommended levels, and concerned individuals can come together to find ways to improve the situation.
Another project pertains to water conservation and industrial development. After the Sept. 21 earthquake that devastated Puli’s Taomi Village in 1999, NCNU joined in the rehabilitation movement to mend the village’s quality of life and restore its relationship with adjacent communities by improving the region’s water conservation capabilities and economic development through a more ecological and creative approach.
A platform was established to create a network of professionals working together to promote sustainable solutions that reduce energy expenditure, waste, and pollution. The project team also gathered data on water-related infrastructure and resources within the greater Chúi-soa-liân region to create an open database aimed at facilitating public cooperation and greater transparency.
Titled “Development of Green Shui Sha Lien: Intelligence × Pollution Reduction × Circulation,” the project led NCNU to be named one of the six USR Best Practice Award laureates among 50 participating academic institutions at the 2018 USR Expo in Taipei.