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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Northwestern Tags Undergraduate Courses with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

This May, Northwestern will launch a pilot initiative that will allow students to search for and enroll in courses related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The Northwestern Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs developed the procedure for tagging undergraduate courses and co-curricular offerings with the UN SDGs in close collaboration with faculty from schools across campus and the Office of the Registrar. The initiative is aimed at promoting greater interdisciplinarity and furthering students’ knowledge of increasingly interconnected and complex global challenges. 

Integration of the 17 UN SDGs, which have been adopted by 193 nations and provide a shared framework for tackling critical global issues, is a key goal of the Northwestern Global Strategic Plan.  The tagging initiative builds upon Northwestern’s efforts to leverage its interdisciplinary excellence and collaborative culture to create new avenues for faculty, students and scholars to contribute to attainment of UN SDG targets through teaching, research and engagement activities.

“The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provide an internationally recognized blueprint for our collective prosperity and a common vernacular for addressing our greatest global challenges.  This new initiative is a reflection of our commitment to preparing the next generation of global leaders,” said Annelise Riles, Executive Director of the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs and Associate Provost for Global Affairs.

During Fall 2022 registration, the new UN SDG course tags will provide undergraduate students with another node to identify courses related to issues of social, economic and environmental sustainability, but do not have a direct impact on a particular course’s content. Students will still need to meet all necessary prerequisites or enrollment requirements to register for a tagged course, and will soon find a full list of tagged Fall 2022 courses on Northwestern’s Class Descriptions website.

Northwestern Buffett plans to continue engaging with stakeholders over the summer to increase the number of UN SDG tagged courses and work toward developing a global sustainability certificate program.In the meantime, students can learn more about leveraging the new tagging feature during Fall 2022 registration here, and faculty interested in the course tagging process can contact Northwestern Buffett Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives Samantha Nissen.