An innovative and comprehensive SDGs-in-the-Classroom Toolkit has just been launched. It has been designed to assist York University faculty with their efforts to infuse the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their teaching and learning activities.
The toolkit, which can be found at https://www.yorku.ca/unsdgs/toolkit/, offers a dynamic suite of supports designed to help faculty bring SDGs into their courses as well as having the goals serve as a pedagogical framework for the student learning experience. This in turn will strengthen the application of the SDGs to education, link purpose with impact and encourage students to take the first step towards meaningful change and righting the future. The toolkit provides resources relevant to every program and it offers faculty members different routes for identifying how their classrooms can welcome an SDG discussion, activity, or lesson into their course.
Inspiration for the creation of this toolkit originated from the work by 2021-22 Provostial Fellow and York University Professor Cheryl van Daalen-Smith and her vision to infuse the UN Sustainable Development Goals into classrooms across the University. Her project, “More than Bees and Trees: Seeing the SDGs in our Curriculum – A Pan-University Community Development Initiative,” sought to inspire and amplify curricular SDG initiatives and advance York University’s commitment to interdisciplinarity. She developed the SDGs in the Classroom Community of Practice, which now has more than 60 educators (and it continues to grow) from across the University.
The community of practice membership felt that a toolkit would assist with the realization of van Daalen-Smith’s vision. Two of the community of practice members, Tracy Bhoola, an instructor at YUELI, and Nitima Bhatia, a PhD student and research assistant, took the lead to create and develop an SDGs-in-the-Classroom Toolkit website. Through diligent leadership, wide consultation and curricular wisdom, this interdisciplinary resource is now available to educators both within York University and around the world, further supporting the University’s commitment to open access.
The toolkit is envisioned to be a living resource, continuing to provide developed and curated resources and materials along with collaborative opportunities to support educators. The toolkit aims to serve everyone by providing inspiring and innovative ways to infuse the SDGs into their unique teaching and learning environments.
There are different sections in the toolkit that offer a variety of resources that will help educators bring SDGs into their classrooms. Educators can choose resources ranging from general documents and reports on SDGs, to discipline-specific materials such as case studies, lesson plans, videos and activities. Resources specific to teaching and learning about a particular goal can also be found in this toolkit. Additionally, the website offers teaching approaches and resources to help educators design their own SDG teaching materials. Information related to upcoming events such as webinars, conferences, workshops and trainings related to SDGs, both at a national and international level, will also be available on the website.
The SDGs-in-the-Classroom Toolkit will also serve as a platform for collaboration. Educators can find information on how they can become members of the SDGs-in-the-Classroom Community of Practice. As well, SDGs Curricular Champions are showcased on the website. They are instructors at York University who are currently infusing the SDGs in their courses using a variety of approaches. Short videos feature these curricular champions from different faculties discussing how they have successfully incorporated the SDGs in their classroom teaching. These videos were created with the intent to provide real-life examples and motivation to other educators interested in the initiative. Educators interested in learning more, or those who want to collaborate, can also contact the curricular champions, or the toolkit leads themselves.
For the empowerment and encouragement necessary to accomplish their goal of bringing this toolkit to life for instructors interested in bringing the SDGs into their diverse classrooms, the toolkit leaders acknowledge support from the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost, Provost and Professor Lisa Philipps, the Office of the Associate Vice-President (AVP) Teaching and Learning, AVP Teaching and Learning and Professor William Gage, and Provostial Fellow and Professor Cheryl van Daalen-Smith. They also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the UNESCO Chair at York University, Charles Hopkins, and Executive Coordinator to the UNESCO Chair, Katrina Kohl, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the SDGs in the Classroom Community of Practice members along with the guidance of the Teaching Commons’ educational developers team.