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New Online Library, Curriculum Aiming to Engage Students, Researchers on the SDGs

The aim of this new venture from academic publishing giant Taylor & Francis is to enable students and tutors to deliver the change they want throughout their careers and lives.

This week, Taylor & Francis — one of the world’s largest academic publishers — introduced its new Sustainable Development Goals Online platform. The site features an online library of over 12,000 articles and chapters — covering some of the world’s biggest ongoing challenges, corresponding to the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — as well as a selection of materials to help lecturers teach sustainability and enhance students’ satisfaction with their institutions.

This new venture from the UK-based publishing giant provides a platform in which to engage higher education students, their tutors and university researchers in learning about and addressing the issues set out in the SDGs — which aim to eliminate issues including poverty, inequality, climate impacts and conflict; and improve access to quality education, clean water and energy, and decent work, to name a few.

Developed alongside various UN bodies, SDGO provides an interdisciplinary collection of digital content — including Taylor & Francis’ books and journals across all disciplines, themed around the SDGs — as well as teaching and learning materials, including presentations, videos, case studies, teaching guides and lesson plans. The aim of the new platform is to enable students and tutors to deliver the change they want throughout their careers and lives. According to a global survey of 1,800 recent university graduates, 96 percent expect to be involved in sustainability in some way during their careers. 70 percent of respondents also believe that sustainability should be covered by their university course. Those students believe their university should teach them how to apply the principles of sustainability in their careers, equipping them to be effective advocates for the changes that they know needs to happen throughout their lifetime — and they are putting pressure on universities to meet their expectations.

This pressure means that the momentum for sustainable education is building across the world.

While business momentum behind the SDGs has been largely steady, with a steady stream of tools and platforms emerging to help companies meet goals aligned with the Goals, efforts to engage tomorrow's business leaders have only really emerged recently — a series of episodes of "Thomas the Tank Engine," which began in 2018; and Sekisui Chemical's SDGs Academy, launched earlier this year, are media outlets introducing the idea to children. Harnessing the energy and brainpower of the student population behind the SDGs, Taylor & Francis is looking to help build the next generation of leaders who have sustainable development hard-wired into their sensibilities, with its launch of SDGO.

“Both students and funding bodies are setting the bar on sustainable development for universities ever higher,” said Annie Callanan, CEO of Taylor & Francis. “Part of our response at Taylor & Francis is SDGO, a platform that will give academics across disciplines access to the knowledge and materials which will help them provide the teaching their students believe they need to succeed. And it will give their students the ability to provide their best positive contribution to sustainable development.”

The SDGs were launched by the UN in 2015, as a 17-point, 15-year, multitrillion-dollar call to arms for the world’s nations to fix global problems. Though some notable progress has been made, the SDGs risk being stalled or derailed by populist political agenda issues. Jonas Haertle — from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Switzerland — says that “to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the coming years, we need forward-thinking and responsible leadership, underpinned with education and research.” He adds: “The SDGO collection from Taylor & Francis is a significant contribution to that underpinning. Now, more than ever, we need to take action to ensure a truly sustainable future for all.”