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Community in Conversation: AUP Students Raise Awareness for Ethical Tech Practices


Fundraising through student clubs and academic associations is just one of the ways students can make a difference and support struggling communities and people in need. One recent example was the success of the student-led “Bake for a Cause” bake sale hosted by the Data Science & Software Engineering Association to support the mission of the NGO, the Congo Good Shepard International Foundation. This organization works to break the cycle of abuse and violence against children, women and girls and to eradicate child labor in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, an essential raw material for smartphones and EV batteries, is mined. While working for less than a dollar a day, women, girls and an estimated 40,000 children, according to the NGO, are forced into the mines in unsafe and unhealthy conditions and denied basic rights to protection, healthcare and education. 

The Congo Good Shepard International Foundation, in existence for almost 10 years, was the focus of the bake sale held by AUP students who sought to engage the community over five days, and raised over €1000, an achievement for all of us at The American University of Paris and a testament to the generous spirit that thrives on campus. The even more impactful achievement was the opportunity for dialogue about the impact of our digital devices on underprivileged communities. “We've not only raised funds but also awareness, highlighting the need for ethical considerations in the technology we use daily,” says Maya Sankoh, MSc Candidate in Human Rights & Data Science and event coordinator at the Data Science and Software Engineering Association. 

The AUP curriculum, be it in data science or other disciplines, plays a crucial role in inciting students to consider the ethical considerations of their fields, and to welcome the power of community, even while still on campus. Through the study of sometimes difficult subjects, students often become attached to certain issues and take these concerns into the world. “When we come together for a noble cause, we make a positive impact, one step at a time,” says Sankoh. “I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity that our AUP family has displayed. Your engagement has reached beyond our campus, directly impacting communities that need it most. This bake sale has proven the power of unity and the significant change we can create together.” 

Other service-oriented clubs include Baytna à Vous, a group that hosts Syrian refugee families on campus and organizes activities for children and language exchange; Campus UNICEF, which works directly with UNICEF, supporting its numerous causes through education, advocacy and fundraising; Mon-A, which organizes art activities for children at local hospitals; and Student Government U.S. voting assistance, which partners with Vote from Abroad during election seasons to help get the vote out. Students interested in a particular cause, or who may become sensitive to it through their coursework, are encouraged to start their own groups, and can rely on the support of the University to help them do their part. Student government at AUP manages a five-figure budget entirely dedicated to student activities, clubs and engagement.