Generation Why is a partner in the Maastricht University SDG Project. The main goal of the project is to provide a framework for a standardized operating model for Maastricht University. This framework aims to help the University to measure and report on its progress in contributing to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and becoming a more socially and environmentally responsible institution, which generates more positive societal impact.
The project team consists of researchers from the United Nations University and the International Centre for Integrated Assessment and Sustainable Development, the UM Green Office, as well as Generation Why. The first step is to make a comprehensive assessment of Maastricht University´s current SDG performance with regards to policy, research, education, innovation and societal engagement activities. In the second step, comprehensive recommendations will be formulated for Maastricht University to help it consistently progress its performance, in accordance with the SDGs. In the third step, a model framework for assessing the progress towards the achievement of the SDGs will be conducted, which is to be re-conducted every three years.
Organized by the Green Office, Generation Why had the opportunity to conduct a pilot workshop on “How to map Maastricht University’s performances against the SDGs”. By using first-hand insights from SDSN Australia/Pacific, the pilot workshop specifically focused on three pillars, namely education, research and social engagement. We made sure to narrow the focus on these fields in order to make it feasible for a two-hour workshop.
The workshop was split into two parts, knowledge production and co-creation of solutions. The first part was designed to explore which contributions to the SDGs the participants (consisting of students and staff members) perceive in daily lives through the university´s education, research, and social engagement. Based on this information and by using a scoring methodology, we identified strength and gaps within these activities. During the second part, we co-created strategies to close gaps concerning certain SDGs and improve existing good-practices.
The interdisciplinary character of the audience fostered discussion and knowledge sharing. The fact that most of the participants stayed after the end of the workshop to discuss more on the integration of the SDGs showed the importance of the matter, as well as the willingness of the student academic community to support such initiatives and contribute through various activities. It was satisfying to receive useful feedback, which will help Generation Why in future workshops. Since the workshop was designed as a pilot, we gained very useful insight by concentrating information on specific sub-themes or pillars and recognizing the lack of knowledge regarding the individual researches conducted at the university.
What is next? Most of the knowledge required to understand the impact of Maastricht University on the SDGs can be better acquired by desk research, a process which has just started. Therefore, we will put more emphasis on the co-creation of solutions and the creation of internal action networks in future workshops, rather than on the development of knowledge. It is important to note that the participants will also validate the results of the desk research in order to achieve higher participation levels. We aim to involve more homogeneous groups of students and staff members, preferably covering a wide range of faculties and disciplines. In the long run, we also hope to involve faculty deans as well as other decision-makers.
The Maastricht University SDG Project is not just an idea anymore, it is actually happening here and now. Ultimately, its success will depend on the fruitful collaboration between the many different stakeholders that are affected by, and simultaneously affect, the everyday functions of the University.
Let’s move Maastricht University towards a leading institution in the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals!
Katerina has acquired a Bachelor in International and European Studies with a Major in Political Studies and Diplomacy and has obtained a Master degree in Sustainability Science and Policy. She gained experience as a consultant in urban buildings and did her research on Urban Labs and Public Value Creation. Within Generation Why, she is the Team Lead Coordinator and a Member of the Executive Board. Her main tasks are coordination and facilitation of internal processes as well as membership management.