Hosted by the Yenching Academy of Peking University, the Yenching Social Innovation Forum aims to provide a platform for young innovators from around the world to develop and share solutions to some of China's biggest social problems and complexities. It does this through leveraging the talent and resources of Beijing to create an educational environment for young innovators to learn from leaders in the entrepreneurship, policymaking, NGO, and venture capital sectors, among others. 



The Yenching Social Innovation Forum will be a three-day event comprised of a series of workshops, site visits, and a competition, all pertaining to the theme of that year. The selected participants will work together in small teams to solve specific issues related to the year's theme through an innovative project or start-up, which they ultimately will present in a pitch to a panel of experts at the competition. Please find a timeline of the program below:  

  • Pre-arrival: Selected participants are divided into small teams and each team is assigned a specific social issue. Teams begin brainstorming during the weeks before their arrival.
  • November 23: All participants arrive in Beijing.
  • November 24-5: Participants attend a series of workshops, seminars, and site visits, all led by experts in the thematic area of that year. In the meantime, they continue to brainstorm and design their proposals with their team members. 
  • November 26: At the competition, teams pitch their proposals to a panel of experts and receive feedback.
  • November 27: Participants fly home.

The Yenching Academy will bear the costs of round-trip transportation to Beijing, hotel accommodation, and meals for all participants during the duration of the program.


2016 Theme: "Bridging China's Education Gap"

The 2016 Yenching Social Innovation Forum focuses on China's education gap. This theme touches upon a number of systemic issues in China's education system, including the following:

the education gap between the urban and rural areas of China

- the barriers to educational access faced by migrant children in cities

- the plights of "left-behind children" in rural areas


Theme Background

Ever since the beginning of the reform and opening up period (1979), China's meteoric but uneven economic growth has led urban household per capita income to more than triple that in rural areas, giving it one of the highest urban-rural income ratios in the world. The term "urban-rural gap" refers to the geographical chasm that now permeates nearly every aspect of Chinese society, including education. In comparison with their urban counterparts, rural schools suffer from a range of problems including a drought of high-quality teachers, outdated technology, and low graduation rates.

The education gap also finds its origins in China's residence registration system. Due to uneven development, in recent decades China's working-aged citizens have flocked to the cities to take advantage of the opportunities for advancement. The Hukou system, however, restricts migrant workers and their children from accessing the social services in their destination cities.  As a result, tens of millions of migrant children are barred from attending public schools, often having no choice but to either attend low-quality community-run migrant schools or to return to their hometowns without their parents ("left-behind children").

These marginalized groups of children account for a large percentage of the world's youth. Innovative and creative ideas are needed to ensure that they receive a quality education that can equip them with the skills needed to have a fair chance at life. We are looking for young innovators from around the globe to utilize their diverse experiences and backgrounds to find solutions.


How to Apply

The Yenching Social Innovation Forum is open to all individuals aged 18 to 29.  Please see the "Apply" tab to access the application form and for information regarding judging criteria. 


Introduction to Peking University and the Yenching Academy

For over a century, Peking University has been the foremost domestic academic setting for understanding China. It has facilitated the work of many generations of scholars, in the pursuit of a more nuanced and complete understanding of China in diverse fields like history, science, economics, and literature. Its students have left its halls to spread this understanding, achieving success and fame in commerce, art, academia and politics.

Two years ago, the University founded the Yenching Academy, inviting a global cohort of young scholars into this unique intellectual environment. The Academy provides a rigorous Master’s program for the multidisciplinary study of China, with the hope of cultivating a new generation of global leaders. The 2015 and 2016 cohorts of Yenching Scholars, hailing from 57 of the world's leading universities and representing 104 countries and regions, have the opportunity to immerse themselves in China, analyze it from a variety of perspectives, and utilize their newly acquired knowledge to work towards the social good. 

The Academy’s autumn flagship event, the Yenching Social Innovation Forum, is a continuation of this mission. In the spring, the Academy also organizes its other annual flagship event, the Yenching Global Symposium (click here for more information).