by Elisheva Cohen
In 2021, the Global Center led multiple projects that served to both raise awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contribute to their efforts. The SDGs comprise of 17 goals to be achieved globally by the year 2030. The goals, which were laid out by the United Nations and agreed upon by the international community, range from ending poverty and hunger to ensuring economic growth and access to jobs, to issues of climate change and environmental degradation. Together the goals seek to foster a more just and sustainable planet.
SDGs and K-12 Teacher Professional Development
In the spring of 2021, the Global Center–in collaboration with the other IU Title VI Centers–supported six teachers to incorporate the SDGs into their classroom. Each teacher developed a comprehensive project that introduced students from grades 1-10 to the SDGs and empowered students to take action towards the goals.
As part of the fellowship, Elizabeth Bruder, a fifth grade teacher in Washington Township, collaborated with the Global Center to pair fifth graders with IU undergraduate research mentors. The IU students supported their 5th grade mentees through their independent research on one SDG in a particular topic. After six weeks of research, the 5th graders presented their information in a mock UN summit.
In both the spring and fall semester of 2021, the Global Center collaborated with IUPUC Division of Education to run an SDG-themed book club for K-12 teachers. Through this professional development opportunity, teachers learned more about the SDGs and understood how literature can be used to further student knowledge about the goals. In Spring 2021, the book club focused on SDG 10: Reducing Inequalities and read: Step up to the Plate Maria Singh, by Uma Krishnaswami and The Weight of Our Sky, by Hanna Alkaf. In Fall 2021, the book club focused on SDG 5: Gender Equality and read: The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Dare, Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee, and Idia of the Benin Kingdom by Ekiuwa Aire. The book club will continue in Spring 2022 with a focus on SDG 14: LIfe below Water.
SDGs and Higher Education
The Global Center also supported learning about the SDGs within Indiana University and across the scholarly community of higher education. Dr Elisheva Cohen taught a course to 15 students that focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through this course, students explored notions of international development critically through the lens of sustainability and investigated the benefits and challenges posed by the UN SDGs. Each student undertook an extensive research project relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Final projects included:
- Inquiry into the literacy rates of Afghan women
- Analysis of music practice and education as a tool for international development
- Exploring COVID-19 vaccine inequity across the world
- Understanding the experiences of workers in the big agriculture industry in the US Midwest
In addition to the course, the Global Center produced and disseminated knowledge about the SDGs through presentations and writing. Dr Elisheva Cohen published an article in the Global Impact Exchange (2021) entitled The UN Sustainable Development Goals as a Bridge Between Global Learning and Local Action. She also spoke on a panel as part of the IUPUI International Festival entitled Teaching Sustainability in the Local and Global Classroom alongside Jessica Davis and Ian McIntosh.