Clarkson’s Strategic Planning Embodies United Nation Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainability has long been a pillar within Clarkson University, woven into the curriculum and extracurricular activities in an effort to better the perspectives and expertise within its faculty and student body. For the past ten years, the university has taken a crosswalk approach under the leadership of President Anthony G. Collins, meeting sustainability goals through classroom instruction, student projects and strategic initiatives.

Now, the university is taking the initiative a step further by making the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which span social, economic, ecological and energy, part of the long-term strategic planning process.

“Many universities have adopted the UN Sustainability Goals as guiding principles for their work both in academics as well as management of the physical plant,” says Provost Robyn Hannigan. “What Clarkson is doing is doubling down on our commitment to sustainability across the entire enterprise, meaning all decisions, all courses, co-curricular, and residential activities, investments, and our entire strategic plan are viewed through the lens of these goals.”

The new strategic framework embraced by Clarkson University is the known as Golden Knights Rise. It incorporates all of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as guiding principles that will shape future educational, entrepreneurial and innovative pursuits.

“Many of our students already have this sense of purpose and passion,” says Susan E. Powers, Spence Professor in Sustainable Environmental Systems and Director of Clarkson University’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment. “A lot of them are interested in the environment, climate change and sustainability. It’s become something that’s important to us on campus and through coursework and co-curricular activities, it gives students a way to really engage beyond the classroom and gives them an opportunity to work on real-world problems.”

There are already many student and faculty projects that encompass these sustainability goals like the ducted wind turbine, anaerobic digester to manage food waste, campus food pantry, and community service to support sustainability efforts of our communities.. However, what this new focus does is change how Clarkson applies the sustainability lens to its diverse, inclusive and distinctive learning environment by providing more tools that students and faculty can use to better deliver and participate in personalized education. Further, as the world continues to concentrate on climate change and the long-term solutions needed, incorporating the UN’s Sustainability Goals allows Clarkson University to create an educational platform where sustainability becomes part of the wholistic learning environment.

To align with the Golden Knights Rise Framework, relevant courses are being coded by the sustainable development goal that is associated with that class’s specific learning outcomes. This coding, will also apply to integrated co-curricular and extra-curricular learning experiences. This way, detailed sustainability goals and associated experiences will be incorporated into student course transcripts and co-curricular learning transcripts that will allow Clarkson graduates to stand out from their peers upon graduation.

“Whether it is a general education course or an upper level engineering elective, students will gain depth and breadth across critical areas of sustainability knowledge and skills, ensuring that Clarkson graduates continue to be leaders in the development and implementation of sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” says Hannigan.

Which SDG is meaningful to you? Look for continued announcements for ways to learn and become involved as we move this initiative forward

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