Project Outputs

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Synthesis of Key Debates

Synthesis of Findings from CIES 2023

One of the project's first outputs was to synthesize and visualize how the SDGs and higher education for sustainable development were discussed at the CIES's 2023 Annual Meeting.

Views on the current SDG agenda vary

Views on the SDGs vary quite a bit. Some view them as a step forward for the development community, including educational development and higher education. Others are more skeptical of their expansive goals, their presumed universality, a distraction from higher priority efforts, or not relevant to all.

Visual graphic displaying forward and backward arrows suggesting views on SDGs vary

Higher Education Institutions have multiple roles with respect to the SDGs

Within the scope of the SDGs, universities are viewed as having many roles and responsibilities related to advancing the SDGs. 

Visual graphic displaying university roles related to the SDGs

There are broader questions around global development agendas

However, views on global development agendas were also discussed at CIES and there are many questions and debates raised around how global development agendas are set. As we look forward to what comes After2030, these discussions and debates take on renewed relevance. 

Visual displaying multiple debates about the SDGs generally

Synthesis of Key Themes at After2030 Events

In addition, the team is working on a synthesis paper that summarizes recurring themes and debates from After2030 events. We have summarized key discussion points and debates around the following three questions: 

  • The SDGs have provided a framework and rallying call for universities' actions – for tracking, improving, and publicizing their institutional actions to contribute to the SDGs
  • The SDGs have inspired teaching, research, community engagement
  • There are many constraints –realities make it difficult to expect more from universities, faculty and administrators’ time, resources, and bureaucratic siloes are some constraints
  • There are concerns that university engagement is focused on reputation and branding
  • Important actors, such as students and teachers, are sometimes misrepresented or overlooked, or undermined
  • Diverse perspectives and cultures are not included in the current SDG framework, such as Indigenous knowledges and worldviews are not part of the current agenda
  • A major opportunity is how to better integrate alternate perspectives, including Indigenous worldviews
  • Answers to questions about the SDGs vary within our community of comparative education and higher education 
  • While some advocate the benefits of the SDGs, others argue that the global agenda itself is too decontextualized, depoliticized or anchored in the status quo to be a useful framework for universities’ actions 
  • Some believe that such an expansive agenda distracts from more urgent and pressing issues - many want more targeted focus on climate crisis
  • Some argue by aligning themselves to SDGs, universities’ engagement with more transformative goals may be undermined