Concordia course addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals

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SDGs in the classroom

The new course, which started in September, gives students a better understanding of the SDGs and their implementation. It is taught by Peter Graham (GrDip 05, Cert 09, MA 10, MA 14), a lecturer at the college and at the University’s School of Community and Public Affairs.

Graham was a natural fit to lead the course. “For the past 15 years, my main research focus has been on sustainability, so I was in a good position to be the leader,” he says.

Every week at 4 de ConcordiaE SPACE, guest speakers discuss one or two SDGs during the first half of the course, while Graham leads the discussion in the second half.

Among other guests, Grant spoke on SDG 6 – Clean Water; Ursula Eicker, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities, spoke on SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy; and Tittler will discuss SDG 15 – Life on Earth, in the final lesson.

“My goal has been to try to make students aware of the challenges of implementing the goals and the fact that there are still a lot of obstacles to overcome – and that most of the obstacles are cultural or even cognitive,” explains Graham.

For an assignment, students work in groups to map the relationships between the SDGs and particular segments of society; for example, the corporate world, the indigenous world, the one percent, the majority world, governments, the material world and the more than human world.

Graham recognizes the urgency of sustainability issues. “We’re not on a path that approaches something that could continue for the next century or so – we’re actually on a path over a cliff,” he warns.

“Thinking about sustainability means that we have to re-examine everything we take for granted today. “

Halfway through the 13-week class, Graham has already witnessed a real improvement in student appreciation of the SDGs and sustainability in general. “I’m very happy with the way they really think deeply about the problem and the challenges,” he says.

“They’re in that age group where it’s their life, it’s their future, so they take it very seriously.”

Given current realities, the subject will only gain in relevance. “We plan to offer the course again next year and hopefully make it a permanent course,” Tittler reports.

Graham believes that topics touching on critical global issues, including sustainability and Indigenous reconciliation, should be taught to all university students.

“It doesn’t matter the degree, the department, the discipline,” he says. “You need to have a basic understanding of the big challenges we face as a society today – and these are reconciliation and sustainability. “


Attend conferences at Concordia’s 4TH SPACE.

Learn more about Concordia Loyola Sustainability Research Center and Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the university’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


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