Student Voices on the SDGs

On winter 2022, the SDG Cities program at Pillar Nonprofit Network and the Environmental Stewardship course in the Governance, Leadership, and Ethics program at Huron University established an ongoing partnership to provide an opportunity where students could express their opinions about the most pressing challenges we are facing today, as well as current and/or potential solutions to those challenges. Their opinions will be published as a blog post series called Students Voices on the SDGs.

As part of their assignments, students are required to write about real-world challenges using the UN Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) as a holistic framework to analyse the problem and propose solutions that could lead to systemic change and a better future for all. 

As environmental stewards now and in the future, the series presents an opportunity for students to address practical and meaningful challenges that their communities are facing. The course is a perfect fit with the whole-of-society approach since it attracts students from multiple programs including business, political science and social justice; providing an excellent opportunity for SDG Cities to enrich their content by including diverse youth perspectives.

“Post-secondary institutions have a critical role to play in implementing the UN SDGs. The innovative partnership between Huron’s GLE Environmental Stewardship course and SDG Cities at Pillar Nonprofit Network shows us the way forward. Students share widely their sustainability knowledge while local environmental networks gain valuable youth perspectives and engagement on climate change challenges. This GLE course offers a model of impactful community-based learning.”

Dr. Neil Bradford – Professor, Political Science Chair, Governance Leadership and Ethics

This partnership is also a strategic step to enable the SDG Cities program to stay connected and actively engaged with local post-secondary institutions working on developing a more sustainable future in alignment with the whole-of-society approach. 

Huron University – as one of the affiliates of the University of Western Ontario – is one of the key players in leading the local Climate Emergency Action Plan recently approved on April 5, 2022, by City Council to move forward. One of the four sub-items in the plan states:

d) Authorize and approve a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Western Ontario to advance joint climate change mitigation and adaptation research, technologies, analyses and knowledge.

SPPC meeting recording

As Steele and Rickards (2021) wrote in the book The Sustainable Development Goals in Higher Education: A Transformative Agenda, “universities need to engage much more deliberately with the real world they are part of… It is about acknowledging the complex material realities that universities have never left”. 

Huron University is showing its commitment to be a target of change as much as an enabler of change. One great example is the new designation as a blue community, an initiative spearheaded by Huron University College Students’ Council (HUCSC):

“It was amazing. Huron was agreeing to phase out single-use plastic water bottles three weeks later…”

Huron News

The main goal of this partnership between Pillar and Huron is to amplify students’ voices by highlighting current projects and enabling the emergence of new ideas to achieve sustainability.

You can read the blog post series on our website. If you are interested in learning about the SDGs, knowing more about the program or discussing potential partnerships, reach out to us through our contact page.