Session highlights

"Most people in Australia are aware of the SDGs, but the challenge here is in implementing them. I think the universities really need to take a lead in this, and show an example." Amanda Sayan, Director of Partnerships, The University of Sydney, Australia  

  • Dr Julie Newman, Director of Sustainability, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, said when she started work towards launching an office of sustainability, she found there were 32 different definitions of sustainable development being used. "There were two messages there: one was that I was not the only one at MIT doing this by any means, and that so many disciplines and programmes are really grappling with this issues," she said.
  • Professor Bronwyn Parry, Vice President & Vice Principal (Service), King's College London, UK, said a new translational pathway is helping students understand how they can address SDGs in practice by working with local communities. "At King's I'd say our ambition is that our graduates will be distinguished, not just by their knowledge but also by their wisdom, their character, their service ethic, and also their global mindset," she said. 

Session summary

Institutions of higher education have embraced internationalization, and the benefits it brings in terms of diversity, students, and collaborative research however in a matter of moments COVID-19 has brought impact to the sector.

Universities’ leadership recognizes that global collaboration and engagement are critical for fostering novel interdisciplinary, holistic approaches to finding solutions and that higher education has responsibility to educate the next generation of global citizens.   The world needs the expertise of universities more than ever and as the world contracts, international engagement in fact becomes increasingly important especially when tackling challenges like climate change. Today’s global challenges cannot be solved by one discipline or one institution. Achieving SDGs requires approaches that are locally embedded but globally connected. There is tremendous potential, but the opportunities necessitate investments and infrastructure as well as changes in the way we work. 

Universities in Australia, Taiwan, UK and USA demonstrate the implementations of innovative programmes to advance SDGs. Through leveraging resources and multidisciplinary collaborative links, institutions chart new paths to tackle complex problems and enhance capacity in terms of research, teaching and outreach. Meanwhile, universities highly engage in research collaborations with partners worldwide to align themes of SDGs in addition to enforcing strategies of mainstreaming.   

How could universities provide effective strategies to face challenges, including the pandemic, and integrate distinctiveness to common SDGs and materialize university social responsibility?  SDGs offer opportunities for global engagement while challenging traditional university approaches to student mobility, global learning, collaborative research and methods of delivery. Universities have developed SDGs-oriented initiatives, serving as an engine for society.

The session explores the extent to which universities accelerate the advancement of SDGs and ensure the sustainability of the community beyond. It allows participants to navigate how the SDG agenda and the use of virtual platforms are transforming research collaborations, educating new generations of global change-makers and leading to future models for connections, innovation and discovery.

This session will be chaired by Prof. Hsiao-Wei Yuan, Vice President for International Affairs, National Taiwan University, Taiwan.  Speakers:

  • Amanda Sayan, Director of Partnerships, The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Dr. Julie Newman, Director of Sustainability, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • Prof. Bronwyn Parry, Vice President & Vice Principal (Service), King's College London, UK