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Higher Education and the Sustainable Development Goals

May 16, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EDT


The challenges the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) go deeper than did those of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They require a rethink of the developmental objectives of the industrialised countries to ensure a global convergence in terms of impact of lifestyles and livelihoods in both North and South on human wellbeing and planetary sustainability. This webinar is intended to contribute to the conversation about how HEIs can work together globally to develop a shared paradigm for curriculum, research and community engagement.

The webinar will draw in large part on the potential of the 53 nations of the Commonwealth as a resource for the global community in delivering the skills and evidence needed for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In 2015, the Commonwealth committed to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agenda. In 2018, Commonwealth Education Ministers committed to the Curriculum Framework for the SDGs, a framework document across formal, informal and non-formal education at all levels, from pre-school to lifelong learning. At the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM, London April 2018), Heads of Government agreed a Commonwealth Blue Charter for sustainable development of members’ ocean and coastal resources. This is, then, an international association that recognises the opportunities and imperatives of development within planetary boundaries that is inclusive and ‘leaves no-one behind’. The Commonwealth, though, is neither a treaty organisation, nor well-resourced, but these commitments present a supportive context for HEIs engagement.

One key theme of the webinar will be the principle of universality: how does the universal applicability of the goals affect educational institutions in North and South differentially, and what are the implied responsibilities of universities in the ‘global North’  if we are all to be on an ecologically sustainable, upwardly convergent path of development that is defined in terms of outcomes for people, rather than simple GDP metrics? How do we produce the data needed for a bottom-up, participatory approach to decision-making for sustainability? How will universities help promote ‘citizen science’, with data openly accessible to stakeholders? And how can indigenous and traditional knowledge and heritage be included, recorded and protected? How can we promote interdisciplinary working and problem-based learning? And how can we ensure joined-up thinking across the silos and levels of government? The webinar will also consider the role of other values, such as empathy, trust, and partnership, that will be needed to secure the global partnership for the Goals.

Speakers will include Professor Henrietta L. Moore, Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London, Catherine C. Cole, Secretary General, Commonwealth Association of Museums, Lucy Slack, Deputy Secretary General, Commonwealth Local Government Forum; Dr Nicholas S.J. Watts and Dr Balachandra Subramaniam, both Senior Research Fellows of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London and Joanna Newman, Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

For members: Access webinar recording and presentation materials


Nicholas Watts

Moderator: Nicholas Watts, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK

Dr Nicholas Watts is an environmental social scientist working in policy research and advocacy for sustainable livelihoods and communities in small states, he takes an interdisciplinary approach to behavioural and policy change, working on oceans and fisheries, renewable energy and education and training for skills in the blue economy, with the focus on Commonwealth SIDS. He is working with the Sharp End partnership, which he chairs and the Commonwealth Association of Museums (CAM) to these ends. He is also Convenor of the Environment and Sustainability Working Group of the Caribbean Studies Association and Senior Research Associate of the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), Freie Universität Berlin (FUB).

Henrietta Moore

Henrietta L. Moore, Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London

Henrietta L. Moore is the Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL, where she also currently holds the Chair in Culture, Philosophy and Design. A distinguished anthropologist and cultural theorist, she has focused her recent work on the notion of global sustainable futures. By rethinking how knowledge is produced, challenging current economic models, and identifying overlooked social and political dynamics, Professor Moore’s approach places notions of well-being, institutional change, citizenship, and social justice at the focal point of her research. She is actively involved in the application of social science insights to policy at all levels.

With a continuing long-term research engagement with Africa, where she has worked for over thirty years, she is committed to involving grassroots communities in the production of new types of knowledge through ‘citizen science’.  Professor Moore retains an ongoing interest in issues of globalisation, gender, social transformation and livelihood strategies, as well as in the relationship between self-imagining and democratic political decision-making. She has written and lectured on Social Theory, Epistemology, Feminist Theory, Gender, Virtuality, Globalisation, Space, Development and Social Enterprise.

Catherine Cole

Catherine C. Cole, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Association of Museums (CAM)

Catherine C. Cole has been Secretary-General of the CAM since January 2013 and a consultant based in Edmonton, Canada for nearly 25 years specialising in cultural planning and policy development, strategic research and planning, and community-based arts and heritage projects. She worked in the Solomon Islands from 1991-1993 and was previously a curator and interpreter in museums in Ontario and Alberta. Her publications deal with museology and Western Canadian history. Catherine led the CAM Triennial General Assembly organising committees in Calgary (2017), Glasgow (2014), and Singapore (2011), as well as regional workshops in Cape Town, Jaipur, Bridgetown, Barbados, and Nassau, Bahamas. She has administered interns in Scotland, India and South Africa and about 40 distance learning programme students. She is Vice-Chair of ICOM CAMOC (Collections and Activities of Museums of Cities)

Lucy Slack

Lucy Slack, Deputy Secretary General, Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Lucy Slack has been working for the Commonwealth Local Government Forum since 1999. She is responsible for policy, which contributes to the strategic direction of the organisation, and takes a leading role in the development and management of CLGF’s capacity building projects. Her specific areas of expertise are decentralisation, intergovernmental frameworks, local economic development, local government finance and inclusive local government. She is responsible for managing the work of CLGF’s programme and relationship-building and advocacy work with members and partners across the Commonwealth. She directs the work of CLGF’s regional offices in Fiji, South Africa, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago. She has also been pivotal in the design and management of CLGF’s biennial Commonwealth Local Government conferences.

Joanna Newman

Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

Dr Joanna Newman joined the ACU in April 2017 and is responsible for fostering and promoting the aims of the ACU, as defined by its membership, in developing inter-Commonwealth relations in the field of higher education.

Before joining the ACU, Joanna was the Vice-Principal (International) at King’s College London where she was responsible for all international matters for the university. In previous positions, Joanna represented the UK higher education sector as Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit (now known as Universities UK International) where she negotiated the UK’s role in Brazil’s Science without Borders mobility scheme, launched HE Global and initiated a number of international partnerships on behalf of the UK HE sector. Before this, she was Head of Higher Education at the British Library where she commissioned the Google Generation report and was responsible for introducing researchers to one of the world’s greatest research libraries.

Bala Chandramohan

Balasubramanyam Chandramohan, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK

Balasubramanyam’s research focuses on Commonwealth, Education and Training, Interdisciplinarity in Higher Education, and Development Studies. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK), and the Royal Society for theEncouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce, London.
He holds masters degrees in Humanities (MA, also PhD in English Literature), Social Sciences (MPhil International Studies) and Technology (MSc Internet Technologies) and has taught at universities in UK, Continental Europe, Africa and Asia. He delivered Guest Lectures, among other places, at Texas A&M university, and conducted funded research at New York Public Library on interdisciplinarity.
Currently, Chandramohan co-edits an open, refereed online journal the Cameroon Journal of Studies in the Commonwealth.



May 16, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EDT
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