What is UTS doing about the Sustainable Development Goals and how can we better connect the SDGs to teaching and learning at UTS?

During a recent event, Alex Fransen (UTS Sustainable Development Goals Project Manager) shared an overview of how UTS currently ranks against the SDGs, where our efforts can be focused, and what practical steps we can take. Alex shares selected highlights from her session here.

Image of 17 blocks showing icons with the sustainable development goals

What is Sustainable Development? 

Sustainable Development is about tracking a course towards human well-being, ensuring economic prosperity, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. These three ‘pillars’ of sustainability can be interpreted as follows:

  • Economic prosperity: a decent material standard of living, with no extreme poverty, access to healthcare, access to education, access to infrastructure, decent working conditions;
  • Social Inclusion: where all segments of society, women, men, minorities, majorities, people of all races, beliefs and religions can participate and enjoy the benefits of modern daily life; 
  • Environmental Sustainability: our economies, locally and globally, must function safely for us and future generations to ensure protection of the planet itself.

How does UTS engage with the SDGs?

UTS is one of the first Australian universities to become a signatory to the University Commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2022, UTS participated for the first time in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Ranking, coming 15th in the world and 2nd in Australia. 

The university engages with the SDGs principally through the following ways:

  1. Education – to ensure our graduates are well informed and have the skills to tackle the problems that the SDGs present
  2. Research – undertaking research that has a positive impact on society and helps us to tackle the wicked problems of the world
  3. Operations & Stewardship – ensuring that the university operates ethically and sustainably as custodians of resources including staff, students and physical resources 
  4. Community leadership & engagement – engaging with local, regional and international communities to pass on knowledge and advice on the betterment of society and resource use

You can listen to researchers from our Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) talking about their research and how it relates to SDGs in the 4-minute video below:

Linking SDGs to education and learning

There are many examples of SDGs linking directly to education and learning; the three examples below illustrate the diverse ways in which our curriculum, teaching and access programs help to support three different SDG focus areas.

Award winning curriculum (SDG 4: Quality Education)

The university’s teaching program was recognised with an award win in the Australasian Green Gown Awards. The subject Industry Innovation Project, part of the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, won the Next Generation Learning & Skills category. The subject matches students with community and business partners to work on real-world ‘wicked problems’, often with sustainability at their core. 

Women in Engineering and IT (SDG 5: Gender Equality)

Our vision is that Engineering and IT study and career journeys are not limited by gender. Women are underrepresented in the workforce in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), making up only around 28% of the sector in Australia. Encouraging girls and young women’s interest and confidence in STEM subjects and enabling them to achieve their full potential is a long-standing and significant issue in Australia.

Founded in 1981, the UTS Women in Engineering and IT program (WiEIT) is the longest running program of its type in Australia.

Widening student access & participation (SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities)

UTS runs a number of programs designed to widen participation and support students from low socio-economic backgrounds to access and thrive at university. For example, in 2021, the Transition and Academic Support Program provided support to 540 students; ten of these were from refugee backgrounds and 147 had a disability or ongoing medical condition. 

Get involved with Global Goals Week: 16-25 September

The Sustainability Unit is working with UTS BUILD to bring together Global Goals Week at UTS, which includes a visual installation in the foyer display area, engaging pop-up activities throughout the week, discussion groups and a full-day workshop on Saturday 24 September, hosted by UTS BUILD. Check out the full event program for details on how you can participate in a wide range of activities.

Beyond this packed program of events, you can email the UTS Sustainability Team to find out more about our activities to raise awareness of the SDGs, map our expertise, and identify strengths and opportunities. You can also join the SDG-Community on Sharepoint.

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