With the arrival of the Post-2015 Development Agenda in just a few weeks, it is time for us to think about we can do to bring the development agenda back home to our communities. Earlier this summer, I was honored to speak at a UN side event with speakers from the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, UNA-DR, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and FUNGLODE. This was a great opportunity to outline an agenda that we’ll be implementing at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University during the coming academic year.
This agenda has two elements:
The Post-2015 Agenda is incredibly ambitious and incredibly detailed. Since civil society will be an active ally in bringing this agenda into implementation, it is vitally important to raise awareness about it. Our United Nations Day event will be a campus wide teach-in on the Sustainable Development Goals developed in partnership with UNA-USA. This event will be held on Friday October 23.
Of course, the SDGs are not merely for college students. They are for everyone. In the Spring, we plan on hosting a similar event in cooperation with local community leaders. While we cannot single-handedly raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals nationally, we can certainly take steps on our campus and in our community.
While it is common for academics to bemoan their lack of impact on the policy process, we can surely play an important role as interlocutors between the UN and civil society. With plenty of eager students at our disposal, this makes our job that much easier. To this end, one of the projects we will develop after the campus-wide teach-in will be an Op-Ed Writing Project. A simple way to leverage students will be to give them an assignment: write an op-ed for your local newspaper explaining why the Sustainable Development Goals are a good thing. This will give interested students the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member. This not only helps students develop skills and independent writing samples, but also ensures that we get the message out about the Post-2015 Development Agenda.