Education as a strategic line of the SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean



SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean
Organizations/areas of the university involved

School of Management, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Education, Center for Innovation in Technology and Education


The SDG Center has been working on a portfolio of courses and public lectures on sustainable development with a transversal and transdisciplinary perspective to achieve the SDGs.

The SDG education portfolio includes various initiatives. On formal education, the Center has developed an elective course on the Sustainable Development Goals at los Andes University. This course is part of the Uniandino Basic Cycle, which gives comprehensive knowledge and competencies to students, so they become ethical, critical, and committed citizens and professionals. The Center has developed this elective course to explore the conception and perspective of the SDGs in contrast with other development theories as well as the concept of the planetary boundaries. This course imparts a broad understanding and different perspectives to achieve sustainability regardless of the discipline and career of the student. 


The SDG Center has also developed courses within the executive education area of the School of Management. These tailor-made programs were conducted considering the increasing demand for specific courses to expand the knowledge of professionals in matters of sustainability, and as a request of some companies to address their specific needs around the sustainability area.  


One the other hand, the Center extended the traditional scope of training spaces implementing open lectures and Massive and Open Online Courses (MOOC), to reach a wider audience among the region. The center has held two open lectures, the first one “Nuestro futuro” took place at the university and focused on new perspectives to address climate change debates. The second “Nuestro Futuro: La Amazonia” delve into the challenges that the Amazon Forest face as a strategic ecosystem for the region. These public lectures were led by Alejandro Gaviria, president of Universidad de los Andes.


The Center has also developed two MOOCs which are available on the digital platform “Coursera”. The MOOC “SDG for Latin-America and the Caribbean” seeks to provide a regional perspective on the SDGs and their goals. While the objective of the MOOC “SDG for business” is to provide tools for companies to initiate or precisely direct their efforts to achieve sustainable development based on their strategic activities. Furthermore, the SDG Center is currently working on a third MOOC, “SDG and sustainability: an approach from schools”, to explore pedagogical tools to encourage the adoption of sustainability initiatives within middle schools. 


Results and impact measured or expected

The elective course has been conducted over three semesters at Universidad de los Andes. In total, this course has reached 80 university students. Likewise, the executive education courses reached approximately 70 professionals of different economic sectors.


The MOOCs produced by the SDG Center have more than 18.600 students enrolled to date. According to the platform data, these courses have reached 80 countries around the world within its first year of implementation.  On the other hand, the face-to-face open lecture was attended by more than 4 thousand people in the 8 sessions, and the virtual lectures have to date more than 75 thousand on the center’s YouTube channel.


Connection with the SDG framework

The Center´s objective is to enhance the knowledge an involve students in activities to deepen, assimilate and integrate the concepts and learnings of the 2030 Agenda. The courses aim to strengthen and motivate young leaders to take part of the global discussions around the challenges faced by humanity this century. All the educational resources of the Center address the origins, purposes and the interrelationships among the SDGs. 


Moreover, the courses seek to offer specific and practical tools on how to implement solutions in different sectors of the society. Also, invite the audience to take individual actions and redirect their work and decision-making to contribute to global sustainability.


For the Center is key to provide capacities and opportunities among students in the region. At this regard, on average 94% of the MOOC’s audience belongs to developing countries of the region, being Colombia the one with the largest audience. 


Barriers and follow up

The implementation of the MOOCs was challenging because of the need to adapt the methodologies and contents of the courses to digital tools. The support of the Center for Innovation in Technology and Education (Conecta-TE) of Universidad de los Andes was key to carry out this process. 


Likewise, given the asynchronous nature of the virtual courses, it was a challenge to fulfil the adequate assistance the students require from the teachers during the learning process. To overcome this virtual barrier, the Center hold a series of webinars in which students were able to solve doubts and delve into specific topics.


In terms of audience, the courses focused on specific topics such as the one in business has shown challenges in reaching potential students. To overcome this, the Center contacted local and regional institutions to foster the course among their allies and workers so the course could reach a wider audience. 


Transferability of the initiative

The Center is particularly concerned on the regional scope given to the courses.  The cases and examples used to explain SDG-related issues come from different territories and contexts within the region. This particular focus allows the courses to be transferable to different urban and rural geographic contexts.


Likewise, these courses have been developed to reach a broad audience. This is important as it ensures that the course content is conveyed in an understandable way and designed for all kind of public regardless of their level of education or profession.


It is essential for the Center to keep strengthening the partnerships across universities in the region to enrich resources and ensure that the courses have a regional outreach.