At the University of Warwick, we prioritise a thoughtful, critical and substantial engagement with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our aim is that by 2030, Warwick will be one of the world’s exceptional universities, helping to transform our region, country and world for the collective good. Our strategy thus combines a commitment to cutting edge, internationally relevant work, with an ethical commitment to positive impact in the world. Through building inclusive communities of research, teaching, learning and practice we believe that we can help to shape and further the sustainable development agenda. This is a contribution but also a commitment to playing our role as a Higher Education Institution.
Universities are central for the SDG agenda. Their research and teaching can trigger discussion, engage different generations in dialogue, and produce critical analysis vital for SDG monitoring, evaluation and impact. As part of a constellation of actors our role lies particularly in promoting and conducting critical thinking. We observe that the SDG agenda can be co-opted, by both private and public institutions, as a tick-box exercise. Universities are spaces for the critical thinking which can directly contribute to achieving the SDGs but also for ensuring that the transformative agenda which underpins them is realised. The SDGs cannot be approached as a list of 17 goals, or boxes in a report such as this. They are interconnected, and require a vision which can see their synergies, tensions, contradictions, and possibilities as a broad global agenda for change. This agenda is about a change in mind set, about how we think about the complexities between research, learning and teaching, between the economic, social, cultural, historical and political. Incorporating this into our work will allow us to prepare our students as global citizens contributing to a sustainable future and to ensure that we have both local and global impact.
The report that we present here is a first milestone in this process, promoting a further engagement from the academic community and inviting a broad and inclusive range of stakeholders to start a conversation. As is seen in the report, we at the University of Warwick are already approaching the SDGs in ways which reflect our research culture and ethics. Our research strategy outlines 6 priorities: disciplinary and interdisciplinary excellence; transformative interdisciplinarity; excellence with impact; global reach and significance; partnership; innovation. We have established interdisciplinary research centres and programmes seen prominently in the Global Research Priorities, Global Sustainable Development, the Institute for Global Sustainable Development, and the Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre for International Development. We have a substantial programme of Global North-Global South research partnerships, with underpinning values of equity and inclusivity. Our institutional structure and priorities thus reflect our commitment to approaching the SDGs in innovative, interdisciplinary, and impactful ways. We will strive for further enhancing these interconnections between our areas of excellence to promote a transformative SDG agenda which challenges our current modus operandi.
We hope that this report will promote further engagement from staff and students at the University of Warwick and elsewhere, certain that a more inclusive and engaging dialogue is key to shaping and succeeding in the SDG agenda. In putting this report together, we are more aware than ever of the need to work across the SDGs and not to see them as self-contained, separate goals. Our commitment is to continue improving our work, listening to stakeholders and collaborators, and to monitoring our own contributions to the SDGs. At the University of Warwick, we will not only implement the SDGs at a local level, on our campus and in collaboration with the local communities, but we will also engage critically with the SDGs and push at the boundaries of SDG thinking to translate them in their broadest and most critical sense. In concrete terms we will focus on improving the methodology of this report, bringing together all of the communities on campus to work towards these common aims, and we will produce an annual assessment of where we have succeeded and where we could do better. In this way we promise to play our role in shaping the way the Higher Education Sector can, and does, contribute to a more sustainable, just and secure world that “leaves no-one behind”.
The report has four case study sections per SDG:
- Teaching and students – education, societies and student-led initiatives;
- Research – research on campus and in collaboration with others;
- Operations – good practices and projects; and
- Engagement – community projects off campus.
Below you can access the sections of the report as they relate to each SDG.