By: Jeffrey Low and Ruth Adair
What role can universities play in advancing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
That’s the question that McMaster Global 2020, which takes place from November 2 to 13, seeks to answer in its annual showcase, which highlights the university’s commitment to global engagement.
It’s an auspicious year: 2020 marks the beginning of the UN’s Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs — an ambitious global blueprint first developed in 2012 to encourage the international community to end poverty, address the environmental crisis and build a peaceful world.
This year, McMaster Global will take place virtually, with online panels, webinars and activities to inspire students and community members to commit to thinking globally.
“Among the key principles of the McMaster’s Global Engagement Strategy are to recognize the civic mission of the university, embodying and enabling global citizenship, and fostering critical social awareness, which implies the prioritization of equity, justice, and environmental stewardship,” says Peter Mascher, vice provost, international affairs at McMaster.
“It is difficult to envisage a more appropriate application of these principles than to pursue the UN SDGs.”
That strategy is the topic of a panel discussion on the role of higher education in addressing the SDGs, which will take place on November 4 from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.
Hosted by Mascher, the international panel will share insights on how universities can use a focus on the SDGs to meet global challenges, many of which have been amplified by the current pandemic.
Participants can register for the panel discussion on Zoom.
- Alex Awiti, vice provost, The Aga Khan University, East Africa
- Andrea Baumann, associate vice president, Global Health, and director, Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Collaborating Centre in Primary Health Care & Health Human Resources, McMaster University
- Ramu Damodaran, chief, United Nations Academic Impact
- Greg Moran, executive director, Academics Without Borders
“We need to continue to find ways to integrate the goals in our curriculum, our research, our operations — and we need to demonstrate leadership, through knowledge sharing and with policy-advancing projects,” says Baumann, who is director of the Master of Science in Global Health program and its newly launched doctoral program.
Celebrating International Education Week
International Education Week (IEW), a series of events and initiatives led by many different campus organizations and clubs at McMaster, is also part of McMaster Global, and will focus on themes including global storytelling and global learning in a virtual space.
As part of IEW, writer and storyteller Anne Bokma will lead McMaster students through global writing workshops to enhance their storytelling skills from a global perspective. Through the Global Perspectives Writing Contest, students will reflect and share how a recent global experience has contributed to their intercultural learning.
Sustainability is another focus of IEW this year, highlighted by an Instagram campaign titled “Be the Change.” The campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the SDGs among students, will feature faculty who actively address the SDGs through their research.
The Student Success Centre will also host events promoting sustainability on campus, including presentations from the Sustainable Future Program and Student Sustainability Ambassadors Programs (SSAP).
“The disruption of the current year due to COVID-19 is an important reminder that global learning is not an activity tied to physical mobility,” says Sean Van Koughnett, associate vice-president (students and learning) and dean of students.
“Opportunities to develop a global perspective remain abundant for students, whether that’s through formal course offerings here at McMaster, clubs and societies, student competitions or virtual opportunities.”
Visit the McMaster Global Hub for a full overview of all the activities happening throughout November.