EAUC is urging us all to sign the pledge. It says:
A pioneering global initiative to embed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) across post-16 education has now been launched. We are calling on your institution to sign and commit to the SDG Accord. Come and join your global counterparts in this international initiative. Download the SDG flyer and petition your institution and students to sign up and spread the message.
This is the message:
Recognising that we are different stages in our journey towards a sustainable future, with differing strategic priorities reflecting our strategic ambitions, areas of expertise and organisational cultures. This Accord calls upon we, the world’s universities and colleges to embed the Sustainable Development Goals into our education, research, leadership, operations, administration and engagement activities. We Accord Signatories recognise ...
- The indivisible and interconnected nature of the universal set of Goals – People, Prosperity, Planet, Partnership, Peace
- That, as educators, we have a responsibility to play a central and transformational role in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
And we thereby assert that as leaders or individual practitioners, academics, students or researchers, we will:
- align all major efforts with the Sustainable Development Goals, targets and indicators, including through our education, research, leadership, operational and engagement activities;
- aim to involve members from all key stakeholder groups in this endeavour, including students, academics, professional staff, local communities and other external stakeholders;
- collaborate across cities, regions, countries and continents with other signatory institutions as part of a collective international response;
- using our own unique ways, give an account to both local and global communities on our progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, informing others and sharing our learning;
- annually report on how our institution contributes to the Goals and what more can we do.
I'll summarise this as "everybody, in HE everywhere, all the time, collaborating with everyone else, should work towards realising all the goals".
At one level, this is fine, although we have been there before: Think Talloires etc. But at another, more fundamental level it's far from alright. Universities are places where ideas are critically examined and guidance provided to society about policy shifts and priorities. As such, it was good to see this reflected in the following rationale of the unique role for HE (my emphasis):
Universities and colleges recognise our unique role in fostering and empowering youth as a force for change, and in fulfilling the urgent need for new knowledge, rigorous debate and critical academic engagement to support the SDGs. The SDGs can inspire our teaching and learning with their goal of education, for all, for sustainable development. The SDGs can be a focus for our research: this vision of a fair future for our shared planet generates an agenda of innovation and discovery, but also scrutiny and challenge. The SDGs offer a catalyst for engagement beyond our institutions, with policymakers and publics alike. But they also provide an opportunity to turn our gaze inwards, striving for inclusion, equity and sustainability in all aspects of our operations. In our collaborative endeavours towards common goals, universities and colleges embody the spirit of the SDGs. We recognise our potential as agents of change for sustainable development - at the heart of local communities, and as part of national, regional, and global networks.
In his 1948 book, Notes towards the definition of culture, TS Eliot argued that a main outcome of education and knowledge has to be skepticism; that is an ability and willingness to provide criticism of political projects in order to check and/or improve those projects. He said that it was criticism (growing out of skepticism) that helped societies advance. It is this idea that lies at the heart of what EAUC is putting forward here.
You can sign the pledge at sdgaccord.org