Clean Cycle: UT Making a Difference Globally

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Clean Cycle is a project started by five undergraduate students from UT to help clean up trash along India’s roadways. The project began last fall in a service-learning class in the Haslam College of Business taught by Dr. Ernie Cadotte, the Fisher Professor of Innovative Learning.  The class teaches business management skills through experiential education and real-world applications.

The UT team is working with Manav Rachna College of Engineering in Haryana, India, and the Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME) School of Business in Pune, India.  Together, the students at UT, Manav Rachna, and FLAME designed a tricycle that is capable of carrying almost three times the load of local waste collectors.  These waste collectors make their living on refunds from the recyclable materials they gather.  The Clean Cycle program provides them with these tricycles, safety gear, and business plans aimed at growing the waste collectors’ enterprises.  The students in India also provide mentorship to the waste collectors, and consult regularly with the UT team on the status of the project.

The team at UT is currently made up of Wilson Waller, Katie Ruan, Manami Murphy, Jason Hinkle, and Harmeet Batth – all senior business majors.  The project was originally started by a different set of UT students, and has changed since its inception.  Initially, it was focused on increasing awareness of India’s waste problem here in the United States (especially to companies that provide goods to the country).  The project has since adapted from the original plan to better address the issues.  Hinkle, the project director for Clean Cycle, has emphasized that a big challenge in this project has been embracing flexibility – something he boasts is a big part of being an entrepreneur.

The Clean Cycle program is aligned with India’s efforts to clean up the country.  The Prime Minister of India, Narenda Modi, launched a Clean India campaign in response to the growing trash program in 2014, encouraging citizens to dispose of trash appropriately and clean up their communities.  Batth, the project’s field researcher, was born in India.  He connects India’s trash problem with its commercialization.  The United States faced the same trash troubles in the 1950s – people need to be taught not to litter.

Two of the UT students a part of the project got the opportunity to travel to Faridabad, India, this past summer to work with Professor Bindu Agrawal, the faculty leader at Manav Rachna University, on getting the project off the ground.  Agrawal will be here in Knoxville from September 21stth to share her experiences with the UT community on working together with different cultures to make good things happen.

For more information on this awesome project, check out the Tennessee Today article.


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