27 March 2019 • Gideon Wille
Sustainable development goals as framework for global citizenship
Okay, so we are a university of applied sciences that wants to turn our students into global citizens. But how do you do that? How do you apply global citizenship in your lessons? The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) assist in that. Two lecturers, Karel van Dijk and Eric Veldhoff, explain how they use the SDGs in their lessons.
The UN has drawn up 17 SDGs with the purpose of ending poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. That is highly ambitious, more ambitious than the Millennium goals that preceded them, but they are being taken seriously in the Netherlands by government, business and also schools – including ours.
It makes sense for us to work with the SDGs, not least because goal 4 is about quality education, but also because the SDGs offer a framework for education about global citizenship. The Executive Board has signed the SDG Charter and promises to actually pursue the SDGs. An inventory will be made of the things that happen at THUAS in relation to the SDGs and we will look at how we can incorporate the SDGs in the curricula.
Karel van Dijck, marketing lecturer at Marketing (CE), and a number of his colleagues seized the opportunity of the restructuring of the CE degree programme to teach students more about the circular economy (SDG 12). “For the Your Own Business project, our first-year students have to design a business plan. We give a lecture on the SDGs and then ask them to adopt two SDGs. They have to develop them, explain why they choose the specific SDG and what it means for their staff, products and business operations, etc.
Planting a seed
“It may take students some time to get used to it, but we assert: customers will demand it of you in your business operations and you can earn money with the circular economy. If you approach it that way, it becomes interesting to our students”. Within the larger Your Own Business project the students have now spent a day on it. “That’s not much, but we have made a start in any case. We are planting seeds, and it should be repeated in higher years”
While they started in a structured manner with SPGs at CE, for Eric Veldhoff, English lecturer at Finance & Control, it is mainly a personal initiative. In the second year, Eric discusses sustainability and social responsibility (SDG 8) in the lessons for a subject in which students practice speaking skills and argumentation to delve deeper in a business. After which, they must have a debate those businesses’ products. Eric: “One group has to address the advantages of the business and the other group, the disadvantages. What are the working conditions like? Is the production sustainable? Are the products sustainable?
Holding their own
Eric thinks it makes sense for students to delve deeper into others, to become aware of other peoples’ reasoning. “Students will later have to hold their own in a world with people from different origins, who can react differently and students need to be able to handle that otherwise their deal might not go through.” Global citizenship and the SDGs help students with that, so that later on they can find their way in employment and society as global citizens.
If you would like to know more about the Sustainable Development Goals at THUAS, then contact Simten Goren: email@example.com.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear blueprint for shaping global citizenship.