On June 10th, Ycenter team received an invitation to attend the annual Higher Education Sustainability Initiative at the UN headquarters in New York City.
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) is a partnership between the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD, and UNITAR, was created in 2012 in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
The day started with an impassioned speech by H.E. Ms. Henrietta Elizabeth Thompson, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the UN, and former Minister for Energy and Environment of Barbados. She talked about the origin story of HESI, what was her goal of spearheading this initiative since 2011–12 and where are we heading next, as she passed on the stage to the amazing panel discussing SDG accord platform and its impact story so far.
The next two panels had speakers discussing the Direct correlation of Higher Education and it’s impact on the Development of Nation’s economy. There was discussion around assessment of Business schools, the role they play in shaping careers for graduates that are coherent with needs of our modern complex economy. I particularly enjoyed the opening remarks of Ann Rosenberg, who talked about — How might we use technology to solve global problems combined with the power of imagination of young people? She discussed the need to unleash story-telling and how Next-Gen program is merging Science Fiction and Storytelling for creating solutions centered to meet SDGs. Ycenter is excited to be a collaborating partner for the upcoming hackathon — “Reboot The Earth”.
At Ycenter, we have been working on SDGs since the inception of the goals. We are going bi-directional with our approach for infusing SDGs in higher-ed. The bottom up approach is focusing on student community and working with them to build projects that cater to a few target indicators of a specific goal. In Kenya, our programs have been primarily focused on Goal no. 2 — Zero Hunger and Goal no. 5 — Gender Equality. And for the top-down approach we work with faculty, staff and instructional designers to influence how to include SDGs in to curriculum design, learning materials, capstone project design, community engagement programs, entrepreneurship challenges, B plan competitions and also measuring learning outcomes. Here is a webpage dedicated to our SDG + Design Thinking programs in USA.
In India, we worked with our maker-space partners Makers Asylum for 2018–19 version of STEAM school which is a bilateral program between Indian and French government.
SDGs have allowed organizations like Ycenter and many others to use a framework to explain the work we do globally in context of problem solving. We are excited to use Design Thinking for Sustainable Development Goals which transforms institutions of Higher education in to Centers of Development and Preparing students for the future of work. As a UN SDG commitment partner, Goal no. 17 is truly significant for us. The scope of solving global problems is beyond the realm of an individual organization, and hence Goal no.17 is truly remarkable as it not only demands investment of resources but also a truly responsive collaboration amongst a variety of stakeholders.
We invite you to join us in this movement of creating a Global ecosystem for achieving the sustainable development goals — SDGs, which we also refer to as institutions interested in Seriously Doing Good.