Innovative Teaching and the UN SDGs: Empowering Faculty through SDG Action and Awareness

Image shows workshop presenters standing in front of two projector screens with the UN SDGs.

Georgia Tech recognized SDG Action and Awareness Week March 4-8, 2024, as part of the Institute’s ongoing commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). SDG Action and Awareness Week raises awareness about the SDGs at higher education campuses around the world and seeks to inspire faculty and students to take action to further the seventeen SDGs in their own communities and globally.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals serve as an urgent call to action to address global challenges including poverty, hunger, and climate change. They provide a framework and vision for a more sustainable and equitable future. Through education, research, innovation, and sustainable operations, Georgia Tech is working to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality at both local and global levels.

An essential aspect of SDG Week at Georgia Tech was the collaborative, cross-disciplinary effort of faculty members to share innovative teaching methods using the UN SDGs with instructors across campus. These faculty members collaborate through the Community of Practice on Transformative Teaching with the SDGs , which helps faculty connect disciplinary knowledge and skills to urgent transdisciplinary challenges and solutions through the SDGs. This work aligns with Georgia Tech’s strategic plan, emphasizing transformative learning experiences to nurture creative, ethical, globally aware, and technically sophisticated leaders dedicated to solving real-world problems. The Community of Practice offers faculty members opportunities to exchange ideas with peers across a wide range of disciplines. “I enjoy the collaborative spirit of this community. It has helped me engage with like-minded faculty across multiple disciplines and integrate social SDGs into my technical engineering lab course,” said Himani Sharma, lecturer in the School of Materials Science and Engineering. Tiffany Johnson, associate professor of Organizational Behavior, stated that it was “encouraging to be part of a community with a shared language, values, and goals around teaching the SDGs. I am inspired by the work being done here!”

On March 5th, eight faculty members from the Community of Practice presented an introductory workshop for instructors new to SDG teaching titled “Teaching with Sustainability and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” This workshop reinforced Georgia Tech’s commitment to providing an education that goes beyond traditional boundaries, fostering a global, multi-disciplinary approach to learning that prepares students for the complex challenges of the future. During the session, presenters highlighted a new course textbook written by Tech faculty, A Global Humanities Approach to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: Understanding Planet, People, and Prosperity. Community of Practice members also shared case studies demonstrating how the SDGs can be incorporated into any discipline, including cellular and molecular biology and aerospace engineering.

Two presenters from the Pecha Kucha panel.

Nimisha Roy and Rodrigo Borela at the Pecha Kucha panel.

On March 7th, additional members from the Community of Practice presented a Pecha Kucha-style panel in the Atlantic Theater, highlighting the successful integration of the UN SDGs into Georgia Tech courses. These presentations provided valuable insights into the diverse ways Georgia Tech faculty are enhancing transformative learning through engagement with the SDGs. Faculty engaged in meaningful discussion after the presentations, tackling challenges together and renewing their commitment to sustainability education. Both events worked to prepare faculty for effective sustainability teaching and SDG course integration.

“Transformative sustainability teaching and learning includes experiences that lead students to challenge and reframe attitudes, assumptions and perspectives in ways that empower them to advance solutions effectively. Cross-disciplinary engagement is essential to this process,” said Rebecca Watts Hull, assistant director of Faculty Development for Sustainability Education Initiatives in the Center for Teaching and Learning.

By actively participating in SDG Action and Awareness Week, Georgia Tech continues to underscore its dedication to cultivating a community of leaders who are not only technically proficient but also socially responsible. Through collaborative, innovative approaches to teaching, the Institute is empowering faculty to equip students with the skills and mindset needed to address global challenges and work to improve the human condition.

For more information about sustainability teaching and teaching with the UN SDGs, click here.









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