Two programs of the RCE Greater Atlanta — an online course hosted by UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) and a professional mentorship program — are helping bring progress on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the Atlanta area. Students at the collegiate level have been instrumental in organizing these two programs, taking responsibility for their own growth and providing resources for other students by creating these resources. The RCE Greater Atlanta has facilitated the process by connecting students to business leaders and other institutions of higher education in the area.
The RCE Greater Atlanta highlights local opportunities to improve sustainability and equity by providing educational resources on the UN SDGs. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals for sustainable development that address both human and environmental challenges. The Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, or RCEs, can be found in more than 170 places across the globe. They are often led by academic institutions recognized by the UN University as hubs of education and activity to help bring the global goals to local communities.
The SDG Training Modules are an online training program comprised of interactive modules covering the history of the SDGs; identifying the social, economic, and ecological sustainability needs of the community; and teaching skills for collaborating with diverse stakeholders to create and implement action projects to equip youth in our region and beyond to become sustainable development problem solvers.
The e-course was created through a collaboration across organizations, with the following people involved: Georgia Institute of Technology student Isabella Stubbs and Kristina Chatfield of Georgia Tech’s Serve-Learn-Sustain program, together with Binbin Jiang, Lolade Owokoniran, and Vanessa Godinez from Kennesaw State University’s Division of Global Affairs.
Professor Binbin Jiang, Executive Director of the Division of Global Affairs at Kennesaw State University says, “The Youth and SDG e-course was collaboratively developed with a two-fold goal in mind. First, to provide young people with a deeper understanding of the history and implementation of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development worldwide. And secondly, to serve as a resource to empower the next generation of thought leaders and change agents to effectively address sustainable development issues and inequalities in the Greater Atlanta region and beyond.”
The mentorship program, launched and co-led by Georgia Tech student Adair Garrett, pairs collegiate students with local experienced professionals who are working in sustainability fields. With the assistance of local business leader Scott Sadler, founder and president of Boardwalk Capital Management, the program has expanded, now having successfully paired more than 50 students and professionals as mentees/mentors.
One participating mentor said, “I have had an extremely positive experience meeting with my mentee–I am so grateful to have been matched with someone who is open and direct about what she would like to learn from our partnership. And I’ve gotten a lot out of our relationship, too!”
Both projects were recognized by an award in late 2020 from the global RCE Network. The 2020 RCE Awards for Innovative Projects on Education for Sustainable Development, which is given annually by the Global RCE Network, “recognises projects and programmes that bridge local and global perspectives on sustainable development, those that engage with transformative learning and research, and initiatives that contribute to community engagement, research & development and capacity development of stakeholders and partners.”
The SDG Training Modules were developed by students from eight universities and colleges, in partnership with UNITAR. Kennesaw State University led the program, with assistance from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The training program received recognition as an Outstanding Flagship Project and the mentorship program was recognized as an Acknowledged Flagship Project. Learn more about all 2020 awards here.
About RCE Greater Atlanta:
RCE Greater Atlanta is a network committed to leveraging educational resources for regional implementation of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus on equity and justice. Our members, representing all sectors of community, business, government and civil society, contribute to the creation of an inclusive and collaborative community that advances SDG knowledge and action and nurtures strong youth leadership for a healthy and just region. More info can be found at www.rcega.org.