Making the World a Better Place through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

By Ian McIntosh, Director of International Partnerships, IUI Office of International Affairs

March 11, 2022

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which range from eradicating poverty to acting against climate change, are an urgent universal call to action that outlines 17 distinct goals to achieving a sustainable future and promoting equality, human rights, and justice for all by 2030. The SDGs build on decades of work by countries across the world and the United Nations, which today provides substantive support, tracks progress, and builds capacity towards achieving the Goals.

In collaboration with the Office of Sustainability, the Office of International Affairs has been working towards advancing the SDGs at IUI for the last few years by taking a whole of school approach – our 17 Schools towards the 17 Goals – positioning them at the cornerstone of our internationalization efforts and allowing them to serve as a framework that helps us navigate the global and local aspects of the 5 P’s – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. IUI’s preeminence in addressing the SDGs is reflected in a new campus-wide website, which showcases the university'scommitment; highlights IUI faculty, staff, students, and scholars working on global and local sustainability issues; and offers ways in which you can take action to make the world a better place for all.

In April 2021, our efforts were recognized in a big way by the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, where IUI ranked 2nd in the United States and 28th in the world for our work around the SDGs. Last month, after several months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, we finally had the opportunity to come together as a campus to celebrate this achievement on February 17th. The 2022 IUI International Festival was the venue, with our SDG Day celebration serving as a highlight amongst the week’s festivities, which included sessions encouraging our global community to explore love across the world, prepare for a global career, and volunteer their time to support local non-profit Exodus Refugee. This year’s International Festival, to our team’s pride and delight, was also the largest Certified Green Event in IUI’s history, with the Campus Center running on 100% renewable energy the entire week!

City of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett kicked off the celebration, officially proclaiming February 17, 2022 “IUI United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Day,” acknowledging our campus’ work towards advancing this important agenda and recognizing changemakers across our university as they continue to make a difference at IUI, in our community, and beyond. Amongst those recognized more distinctly was Dr. Jessica Davis, Director of IUI’s Office of Sustainability, who received an SDG Pacesetter Award from Dr. Kathy Marrs, Associate Dean of the IUI Honors College, for her outstanding contribution towards these and other sustainability efforts across our campus. Beloved outgoing Chancellor Nasser Paydar was also recognized for his contribution and dedication to sustainability and the SDGs across campus.

The event continued by bringing together the rest of our outstanding SDG leaders, an unprecedented sampling of 17+ speakers from all across the campus, who truly breathed life into our SDG motto, “17 for 17” – 17 Schools for 17 Goals. The speakers, which came from as diverse backgrounds as their differing areas of study, articulated how their research advanced one or several SDGs. Highlights from the event, which was made possible by a grant from the IUI Welcoming Campus Initiative, included:

  • Dr. Jim Cleary of the IU Simon Cancer Center, who worked with Mother Theresa in Calcutta in his youth and has dedicated his life to palliative care. Cleary spoke on the unequal access to pain-relieving opioids around the world, connecting to SDG 3, Good Health and Wellbeing.

  • Addressing the need for new drugs for the world’s neglected diseases, Dr. Bill Scott from the School of Science’s Department of Chemistry spoke about the methodology called “Distributed Drug Discovery,” or “D3” for short, which involves partnering for a common cause with faculty and staff from universities around the globe and connects to SDG 3, Good Health and Wellbeing, and SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals.

  • Dr. Albert William from the School of Informatics and Computing, along with an international team, showcased a short cartoon they developed on plastic pollution in our oceans featuring “Mr. Bubbles” to bring attention to SDG 14, Life Below Water.

  • By 2050, the traditional means by which the world manufactures protein for consumption will be unsustainable. Dr. Christine Picard of the School of Science is at the forefront of research on insects as a source of protein for both humans and animals, connecting to SDG 1, No Poverty, and SDG 2, Zero Hunger.

  • Dr. Khaula Murtadha, Vice Chancellor of IUI Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement, spoke about the importance of community-engaged action research on the SDGs and the dissemination of findings in a new journal called “Engage!,” touching on all of the SDGs.

  • And finally – representing SDG 13, Climate Action, and the Office of International Affairs – Study Abroad Director Stephanie Leslie spoke about our office’s “Green Team,” who pioneer sustainable practices across our office and outreach, including switching to 100% recyclable paper last year and leading the creation of IUI’s Green Travel Guide by intern Gracie Lyons to assist our faculty, staff, and students going abroad to make better choices for our planet.

In case you missed the event, you can check out these talks and the others on Kaltura

Stay plugged into IUI's work around the SDGs by joining our SDG Mailing List, where you can receive notice of our monthly SDG Global Conversations and other relevant news.

SDG Day photos

Celebrating IUI's successes with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in ways big and small.

Associate Vice Chancellor Hilary Kahn speaking on IUI's commitment to the UN SDGs.

Making IUI's commitment to the 17 SDGs visible across all 17 schools.

Former Chancellor Nasser Paydar and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett holding the IUI SDG Day Proclamation.

Director of Sustainability Jessica Davis presents as one of the 20+ speakers demonstrating IUI's success in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the largest Certified Green Event in IUI's history, we celebrate that IUI's commitment to the SDGs ranks us globally in delivering on the SDGs.

Associate Dean of the IUI Honors College Dr. Kathy Marrs recognizing Director of Sustainability Jessica Davis as an SDG Pacesetter.