Tsinghua SEA's Happy Digital X Program Promotes Common Sustainable Future

On 28th September, a total of 72 professional planners, system designers, product developers, entrepreneurs, and digital experts, mainly from Indonesia and Southeast Asia, had successfully completed  a professional education program “Happy Digital X : Cities, Systems, Products and Services (HDX)” to be ready to foster an ecosystem of digital innovation that can create “Happy Digital Cities”: places where people are healthy and prosperous, environmental boundaries are respected, and business activities are oriented to the principles of “better business, better world”.

The graduation ceremony was held virtually. Yang Bin, Vice President and Provost of Tsinghua University, stated that the Happy Digital X program has offered an exceptional learning experience. It empowers participants to co–create a future of holistic happiness aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, by engaging in real-world challenge projects.

“As an important component of Tsinghua University’s Global Strategy, Tsinghua Southeast Asia Center is dedicated to building a platform for cooperation and exchange between China, Southeast Asian countries, and beyond. It is our sincere hope that this meaningful step and our joint efforts will continue to produce outcomes towards building a more sustainable world, and in facing ever-changing and transformative challenges, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing recovery efforts,” he said. Yang Bin also expected global efforts to build a more sustainable, equitable and resilient future.

Erick Thohir, Minister of State-owned-enterprise of Indonesia, hoped that all HDX program graduates would be able to master information technology to accelerate the handling of the national economic recovery. They were also expected to be able to implement the theories and subjects learned to help the country remain resilient and grow.

As he stated, so far Indonesia has open access for anyone who wants to build intensive collaboration, for example, by building cooperation to create a city planning system to give happiness to its residents.

The Indonesian Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, Nadiem Makarim, congratulated the graduates of the Inaugural HDX program. He hoped that the participants would be able to play an active role in various programs being run by the Indonesian government.

"And all these challenges must be answered with what the graduates get. We happen to have the Emancipated  Learning program as a learning program that is able to connect happiness between teachers and students. Now, this collaboration must be a strength to build the country," he said.

As the Lead Advisor of the HDX Program, Professor Edward Crawley, MIT’s Ford Professor of Engineering and Honorary Professor of Tsinghua University, in his remarks said, “I'm really impressed by the diversity of experiences of the people involved in the program. This institution was founded in order to address the existential issues of our time: poverty, unhappiness, climate change. The program itself represents a convocation—a coming together—and on its graduation we have shown that we can come together to learn, co-create, and bring technology and society together to address these issues for our common future.”

Indonesian and Southeast Asian cities are going through a digital transformation. How cities function, how people work, interact, and transact is changing rapidly. Happy Digital X is therefore a call to action. The HDX Program is an online professional education program of Tsinghua Southeast Asia Center (Tsinghua SEA) in the UID Bali Campus, Indonesia, co-hosted with Tsinghua University’s Shenzhen International Graduate School. Led by Professor Edward Crawley, the faculty hail from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tsinghua University, Institut Teknologi Bandung, New York University, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, and Presencing Institute.

The HDX Program delivers a four-month, practice-focused professional education program to strengthen the capabilities of practitioners in developing happy, sustainable cities through the successful implementation of ICT. Participants of the First Intake come from various government institutions, business sectors, universities, and civil society from Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and European countries.

“Happy Digital X program has given us an amazing learning opportunity to inspire us in developing a digital transformation in our culture for wellbeing,” said Tuti Ruswati, Head of Development Planning Agency, Sumedang Regency, “in the hope that we can accelerate and optimize services for the public welfare in building a sustainable happy future for all.”

“The program is an eye-opener and mind-opener to me” said Dr Tit Meng Lim, CEO of Science Centre Singapore. “As a scientist, I have been trained to be analytical with a rather reductionist approach to test hypotheses, but dealing with the complexity of systems in the real world will require a different set of skills, tools, and methodologies with systematic thinking.”

In the end there are seven groups of Challenge Project Works in the areas of poverty alleviation, welfare improvement, sustainable supply-chain, farm-to-table food distribution, and community waste management programs. Designed to reflect happiness and sustainability, ICT transformation, and local projects with a global impact, these projects capture real stakeholders’ needs from Sumedang Regency, Foodhall Indonesia, Pasar Rakyat Bali, and Plastic Exchange Bali. The bookends of the program are designed to contribute to the post- pandemic economic recovery. Participants apply the learned principles, skills, and tools on a real complex challenge involving real stakeholders.

Just as Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong expected in his speech for the opening ceremony of the HDX program in April, the HDX program will offer a fantastic learning experience to all the participants, helping them to become transformative leaders in the post-pandemic digital era. It is a good example of Tsinghua’s global efforts in making a contribution to our common sustainable future.  Tsinghua will remain dedicated and committed to the pursuit of excellence and innovation and to the sustainable development of the world.

Tsinghua Southeast Asia Center (Tsinghua SEA) is a critical step in the Global Strategy of Tsinghua University; working together with United In Diversity (UID) Foundation, Tsinghua SEA serves as an important platform for the UN SDGs and focuses on talent development, academic exchange and cooperation throughout Southeast Asia and around the world.

Editors: Li Han, John Olbrich

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