Webinar: ‘SDGs at Work’ – Building SDG Awareness and Engagement Through WIL
March 27, 2024 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDTFree
Increasingly, higher education institutions (HEIs) are being measured on their contributions towards advancing the UNs SDGs. Institutionally, there is growing focus on graduating global citizens who can advocate for and operationalize sustainable futures in their professions. Within Waterloo, sustainable futures are a long-term strategic imperative (https://uwaterloo.ca/waterloo-100/). SDG-related activity is being undertaken by a number of units, which has created a robust ecosystem to visualize pathways to advance the SDGs. With 25,000+ co-op/WIL internships completed annually via 7,200+ employer partners across 50+ countries within this ecosystem, the Co-operative & Experiential Education (CEE) unit wanted to develop programming whereby these internships can better contribute to attaining the SDGs in deeper, more meaningful ways. The approach to SDG awareness building and motivation to engage resulted in an activity piloted with international WIL internships (also called ‘work terms’) since Spring 2021. This work has won research (WACE/ https://tinyurl.com/38dhj3xu) and education (QS/ https://tinyurl.com/249xmyy5) awards. Starting this Spring (2023), this activity will be offered across all ~10,000 work terms in a given term.
Survey results show that the activity significantly increases both students’ and employer supervisors’ awareness of SDGs and motivation to engage with them. This means that the activity is doing what we set out to do! Students identified the highest benefit being increased knowledge of the SDGs, with many indicating a desire to apply SDGs in their future coursework, engage in campus activities, and seek future SDG-related internships. For the employers, the top outcomes were deeper engagement with their students and developing future SDG best practices for their own organizations. Numbers aside, several students have specially commented on the impact of this activity on their career purpose identification. Several employers have specifically commented on wanting a deeper relationship with Waterloo and hiring interns who are aware of critical global challenges and the role they can play in advancing the SDGs.
We will share the strategy and development of this activity designed to guide the development of graduates who are both employable and able to engage purposefully with the UN’s SDGs. The key driver is to demystify such educational programming so that it can be implemented by any program and at any level without being stalled by prohibitive infrastructure and funding costs.
Shabnam (Shay) Ivkovic, Director – International Strategic Initiatives, Co-operative & Experiential Education, University of Waterloo
Shay leads strategic development on several aspects of international work integrated learning (WIL) – value identification of experiences; support and resource infrastructure; risk management; advancing the UN’s SDGs through WIL; ethics of talent mobility; etc. Co-op is one of the main vehicles for WIL at Waterloo. Shay works with a dedicated team to facilitate 1200+ international (non-USA) work experiences in 50+ countries, and handle risk management of 2000+ co-op work terms to USA in a traditional given year. Her team also provides administrative immigration support for 5000+ international visa students in co-op programs. Shay has presented international WIL best practices and research at several global conferences, and has published journal articles and book chapters in reputable forums on these topics. She leads global and national-level groups related to international WIL. Shay and her team have won several awards for program design and outcomes achievement in international co-op & WIL.
Dr. Norah McRae, Associate Provost – Co-operative & Experiential Education, University of Waterloo
Norah McRae, PhD, is the multi award-winning member of WACE’s Executive Council & Global Strategy Council. She has led strategic program development & research on the development of quality WIL and purposeful work. Dr. McRae is also an adjunct professor at University of Waterloo, and has 25+ publications.