(List #103)5 Ways to Engage Students in Aligning Your Institution to the SDGs

Students taking sustainability on campus into their own hands.

(List #103)5 Ways to Engage Students in Aligning Your Institution to the SDGs
Photo by Loïc Fürhoff / Unsplash

If you have followed my work for the past decade, you will have heard me say, time and time again, to get student involved in your efforts to embed sustainability. And not just in terms of campus greening. I’m talking about curriculum, research and strategy. Here are five recent examples of students taking charge.  

1.        Student driven SDG Voluntary Review

Carnegie Mellon University in the US recently released its fourth Voluntary University Review of the Sustainable Development Goals. The report catalogues activities by students, faculty and staff to advance the SDGs. This year the process of putting together the report was student driven. Students conducted outreach to different departments, did surveys and drafted the bulk of the report. The report is coordinated by the Sustainability Initiative which is focused on integrating the SDGs into education, research and operations.

 2.         Student Driven Certificate Programme

The Responsible Leaders program was launched at IÉSEG School of Management in France to promote student engagement in sustainability at the school. One of the projects undertaken by the students involved in Responsible Leaders was the creation of a Sustainability Certificate in 2019. This Certificate rewards student engagement in sustainability during their time at IESEG through a point system in 4 categories; the number of courses taken with a focus on CSR, involvement in associations and events, an internship and a final thesis or consulting project relating to one of the SDGs.

3.         Students as Reverse Mentors

One of the future goals mentioned in Nottingham University Business School (United Kingdom)’s annual sustainability report is to pair students with alumni to influence and reverse mentor those already in decision making positions in the workplace about the importance of building an inclusive and sustainable global economy. This kind of activity will also help them once they get into the workplace to have additional tools to embed sustainability into their jobs, regardless of whether sustainability is included in the job title. 

-              Perhaps also consider doing the same internally; engage students to influence faculty and staff in the same way. 

4.         Student Run University Platform 

The UvA Green Office is a student-run platform striving to make the University of Amsterdam a greener place. Established in 2016, the Green Office has continuously increased its output of policy recommendations and projects to accelerate the sustainable [RM1] transition at the University. They follow an intersectional approach to sustainability that aims to respect the boundaries of the planet without compromising social needs. In addition to aligning itself with the University frameworks on diversity and sustainability, the Office also supports the efforts of Circular Amsterdam, the municipality’s mission to make Amsterdam a circular city. The Office has various teams working on research and education, communications, events and community engagement, and finally campus and operations. 

5.         Student driven Sustainability Report

IESEG’s annual sustainability report was created in collaboration with a group of students who enrolled in the course ‘Co-creating the School’s sustainability report’. Through this course, students worked with the Sustainability Team and their professor to propose the structure, content, and information they considered the most relevant for the annual report. They learned about the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines, and studied how the SDGs are integrated into different reports from companies and other higher education institutions.

This week last year...

(List #88) Embedding the SDGs
Embedding the SDGs through reporting, operations, partnerships, curriculum and strategy.

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