What are the current and future opportunities for the University of Edinburgh and educational institutions to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals?

Sonja Peacock reflects on her work placement with the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability over the Summer.

The Sustainable Development Goals are an ambitious set of targets that aim to address a collection of the world’s most pressing challenges, including poverty, environmental degradation and gender inequality. These goals were adopted by the United Nations on the 25th of September 2015, and their significance and resolve have extended across all sectors of society, including but not limited to governments, the private sector, civil society and the scientific and academic spheres.

The Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS) at the University of Edinburgh has displayed its interest and enthusiasm in pursuing these goals, and I was, therefore, provided the unique opportunity to collaborate with the department on a Living Lab project addressing the following question: What are the current and future opportunities for the University of Edinburgh and educational institutions to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals?

Between the months of July through October, my part-time placement within the office afforded me the wonderful experience of working within the dedicated and friendly Social Responsibility and Sustainability team. I carried out a combination of desk research and interviews with a variety of academic scholars and business associates in order to discern the potential scope of action in pursuit of these goals. With the kind support and guidance of the many faces within the department, I composed a report with recommendations in the areas of learning, teaching and research; community outreach and partnerships; and investments and pensions.

While I was challenged by how to best approach the goals for an institution as large and complex as the University of Edinburgh, my experience on the Living Lab project was extremely rewarding. In combination with learning about the sustainable development goals themselves, I gained insight into the environment of the Department. Working alongside a group of dedicated individuals striving to improve sustainability within the university helped confirm my determination to pursue corporate social responsibility as a future occupation.

Find out more about the University as a Living Lab