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CCE Sustainability Lab hosts interdisciplinary workshop on poverty in Nepali brick kiln communities

Since the fall of 2022, Students and Faculty in the Civil and Construction Engineering (CCE) Sustainability Lab have been working with our counterparts in Public Health, Cell Biology, Nutrition, and Nursing to understand better the challenges of extremely low-income communities that suffer from near-constant exposure to hazardous air in the brick kiln factories of Nepal. In March of this year, the CCE team, supported in part by the Weidman Center, participated in a field study to better understand and measure potential driving factors and outcomes that individuals and families experience. In the months following, faculty and students from Kathmandu University’s Community Development program collaborated with the team to continue this investigation.

In October, the Sustainability Lab, partnering with the Ballard Center for Social Impact, hosted an interdisciplinary workshop of academics and practitioners to take data from the field study and begin the process of developing potential high-impact interventions. Sustainability lab students ran the workshop to pilot human-centered design (HCD) approaches toward addressing the networked issues of air quality, education, and critical infrastructure, all of which are strongly connected to poverty. Outcomes from the workshop are forming the boundaries and basis for similar HCD workshops with Kathmandu University and the brick kiln communities themselves. A second field team will be returning to Nepal in March of 2024 to prototype interventions, anticipating a third team to help deploy interventions at the end of 2024.

For more information or to explore participating in the project, contact