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The SDG Students Program: Empowering Students with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Source: UN

BACKGROUND – University of Waterloo, Impact Alliance

The SDG Students Program really took shape over a year ago in Fall 2019 growing off the pre-existing group, Impact Alliance (IA) which has been around since 2018. Co-founded by Beth Eden, the previous Network Coordinator for Canada and Jordan Lin, they founded IA as a student-led network at the University of Waterloo uniting the campus community through Sustainable Development Goals. The advisors are active campus members made up from faculty, admin and students. IA has over 300 followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which is only growing. Previous activities IA hosted would be our Global Solutions Conference that had 7 different workshops and intense collaboration. Another would be the famous Goosechase Scavangerhunt that had over 300 participants. It was an interactive app that had participants running around finding sustainability spots on campus. In the beginning IA was planning to implement a mandatory SDG course for First Years in the general Orientation however COVID-19 changed our plans. We then started an active hub in Spring 2020 with 8 members who actively contributed to our 17 Weeks for 17 Goals social media project. We have since expanded and increased our social media interactions. 

Source: https://www.facebook.com/SDG-Student-Hub-University-of-Waterloo-113344600483416

CURRENT ACTIONS 

As of Fall 2020, we have recruited 4 Officers; an Internal Community Officer, an External Community Officer, an Education Officer and a Solution’s Officer. We also have around 4 more volunteers who are interested in participating in our current activities. These activities are broken down following projects headed by our Officers.

Internal Community Officer – “Down to Earth with Zac Efron” on Google Meets
This project was started with the intention of learning about the SDGs in a fun and educational way. “Down to Earth with Zac Efron” is a show that follows Zac Efron as he explores different sustainability issues across the globe. Using Google Meets we will host discussions about the different sustainable issues being highlighted in each episode that everyone can watch live streamed. Happening Saturday’s at 4:00pm EST until the end of term, join through the Facebook Event link here.

External Community Officer – Outreach Project, “SDG Hubs Unite”
A large part of the Outreach project will involve other hubs. The first step titled “SDG Hubs Unite” would focus on the 17 SDGs. Each University would select 1 or 2 of the 17 SDGs and think of 3 short, simple, and actionable tasks that anyone can do/implement into their lives to move in a positive direction for the selected SDG. For 17 days, the respective universities would present their tasks for their selected SDG through Instagram stories, or similar media following the selected SDGs. Example: You select SDG 4 & 11. You would post about the SDG on Day 4 and 11 of the project. This project is set to take place early November 2020. 

Once completed, every SDG would have actionable tasks available for anyone to refer back to as highlights on Instagram. We would be using #SDGHubsUnite for tags. A Slack channel has since been created with over 10 participating hubs willing to collaborate with other SDG Student Hubs locally & internationally. The other aspect of the outreach project will involve the use of current social media pages to virtually market Impact Alliance to students across campus.

Education Officer – Certification Program, “Climate Change: From Learning to Action.”
Following a certification program provided online, participants will be learning about “Climate Change: From Learning to Action.” A self-paced program focusing on what climate change is, how it affects you and others, and what can be done to address it. Participants will stay connected over a Slack channel. Modules will be completed weekly with each participant focusing on only one segment of the entire module for the week. Notes will then be shared on the Slack channel every Friday. 
Weekly calls happen every Saturday at 3:00pm EST and these calls will involve a presentation overview created by the Education Officer based on notes (provided on Friday’s) by participants. Participants will then take turns teaching others about the section they studied. The call will end with a lively & fun discussion involving virtual games such as Kahoot! and/or Jeopardy. Participate in the certification by joining the Slack channel here and join the weekly discussions on the Facebook Event here.  

Solution Officer – Hackathon, “SDG Impact Challenge”
This is one of IA’s biggest projects. Set to happen in Winter 2021, in collaboration with Global Spark. It will be an interdisciplinary solutions conference that will last 24 hours and host at least 3 different organizations (each with a relation to SDGs as grouped; environment, society, economy) incorporating help from the University of Waterloo professors. The idea is to have students solve one problem of their choice from the organizations following a provided template to scale. The winners will have their solutions published on socials, while the top choice solution will be implemented in Spring 2021. This project is set to span 8 months (2 terms) – from idea generation in the competition to execution of the winning proposed solution.

OTHER INITIATIVES

OneHub Campaign – “SDGs & Your Career”
A short collaboration between hubs set to happen in November. Each hub will contact 1 faculty (different per hub) from their University to talk about how their career is related to an SDG. The professors will be given a short list of points to talk about under 5 minutes and it will be broken down to provide 3 Grid Posts per hub (total of 12 Grids) that will be posted over the month. 

Game Development – “Mr. Goose Adventures” link

Using hyperpad (iPad app) the goal is to develop a sustainably themed iOs game to help increase engagement & understanding of sustainability matters, especially by those in the University of Waterloo, Canada. Development of the app should be completed by mid January 2021. 


EXPECTATIONS
We hope that with these projects we can find actionable improvement with more people participating in our projects and benefiting from them. Do contact Krystal, the Senior SDG Campus Coordinator – krystal.yee@sdsnyouth.org or Jahanvi, the Junior SDG Campus Coordinator – jahanvi.desai@sdsnyouth.org for more information or to participate.

All are welcome to our events!

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