“The pandemic has amplified existing weaknesses and injustices in our systems. Universities are well positioned to develop roadmaps and frameworks to proactively engage in reducing inequities by taking an active role to solve global challenges.”
Those are the words of Andrea Baumann, McMaster associate vice-president, global health, during the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) Ontario regional conference last week. Baumann shared her insights on best practices for higher education institutions tackling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of an international panel organized by Peter Mascher, Vice-Provost, International Affairs, McMaster University.
“Through research, teaching, learning and international panel discussions like this one, McMaster is highlighting the importance of SDGs and internationalization. Attendees from HEIs from across Canada and around the world shared diverse, innovative perspectives on how to progress sustainability and equity both locally and globally,” says Mascher
Panellists from institutions around the world joined in conversation around how HEIs can advance the global goals. Panellist Charles Hopkins, UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability at York University, echoed Baumann’s comments that the relationships between international education and the Goals “provides universities with a framework for refocusing efforts from development to sustainable development.”
Throughout the discussion, panellists came back to the importance of SDG 4 (Quality Education) as key enabler of all the other SDGs. In the context of internationalization in higher education, the panel agreed that higher education institutions can promote and advance SDG 4 to the benefit of all other goals.
In the video above, Vanessa R. Watts, Paul R. MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies, illustrates the importance of SDG 4 with an example.
Raising the question about how quality education can promote the future of equitable, inclusive, and resilient societies, panellist and moderator Meghna Ramaswamy Director of the International Office at the University of Saskatchewan affirmed that universities must continue to “engage in international partnerships, knowledge sharing and advocacy for important advances in innovation and technology such as digitalization across the globe.”
Beyond exploring specific SDGs, the discussion also focussed on equity and accessibility to education. For example, Monika Froehler, panellist and CEO of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, emphasized the need for practical research strategies to support marginalized groups in crisis settings. She further added that higher education institutions have a role to play in removing barriers for knowledge sharing.
“One of the major obstacles for knowledge sharing is often accessibility to the internet and digital means – currently 3.6 billion people do not have access to the internet,” said Froehler. “As much as education is an enabler for the SDGs, we must also consider sustainable energy for all.”
Following the conference, McMaster is furthering its commitment to advancing the conversation through developing solutions, prioritizing collaboration and preparing future innovators with the skills that will enable them to contribute to achieving the SDGs.
Read more at Daily News.