While planning and implementing a new Cross-Faculty Master of Environment and Sustainability (MES), launched in 2017, we aimed to achieve outcomes in relation to student knowledge, perception and action for the SDGs. These are:
A – Students in the MES are aware of the SDGs, their purpose, scope, indicators, evidence base, key features, and major critiques.
B – Advanced students can apply the SDGs as a practical tool for system analysis, ideation and identification of interactions, and link them to other major agendas.
C – Students view the SDGs positively, as part of their identity as a sustainable development practitioner.
D – Students take up extracurricular opportunities associated with the SDGs.
Monash is strategically committed to the SDGs. They are of global and local relevance for our diverse international cohort. They are broad, ambitious, and provide rich opportunities for academic teaching and applied interpretation. Accordingly, the SDG framework is used in a variety of ways across the Masters. Here, we highlight three specific intervention points:
1. During orientation, all new students are introduced to the SDGs. Existing students are invited to be peer mentors and share an SDG lapel pin with their mentees. This ‘anchors’ peer mentor relationships and fosters a sense of connection to cohort and the SDGs.
2. During the Masters compulsory core units ‘Perspectives on Sustainability’ and ‘Global Challenges and Sustainability’, students study the SDGs via seminars exploring the history and context of the SDGs; analysis of the Goals and Targets; deep dives into the evidence base for specific indicators; and reading academic discourse about the Goals.
3. In the advanced studies unit ‘Innovation to Influence System Change’, the SDGs inform change proposals for real-life contexts. They are used as a tool for system analysis; to support ideation; and as an evaluation tool for to examine trade-offs in change proposals.
To implement these initiatives, we undertook:
– Cross-Faculty educator meetings to discuss integration of SDGs
– Research and curriculum development for seminars, workshops and readings
– Multimedia production including interviews about the SDGs with sustainability leaders for flexible online use
– Development of SDG-based ideation and analysis tools for live classes
– Integration of SDGs in Orientation and wider extracurricular experiences