The Sustainable Development Goals in motion(?)

According to Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO “education has the responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, foster the right type of skills that will lead to growth and peaceful living together”.

Did you know that in June 2018, during the ‘SDG in Motion’ conference, The Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS) signed a letter of intent along with seven other universities to use the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs) in their curricula? Well, I didn’t, which triggered my interest to research to what extent students from the International and European Law (IEL) program are familiar with the SDGs. For those who don’t know yet, SDGs are a collection of global goals set by the UN in 2015 to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030.
During my research, I interviewed a couple of lecturers from THUAS and surveyed 127 students. According to the survey, over 1/3 of the students did not know about the existence of the SGDs. I decided to further assess the relevance of the SDGs and what impact a possible integration would have on IEL Program.

Relevance?!

One argument is the challenges we are facing as a society. Without looking at the cause of our development (let’s say our benefit), nevertheless, we still struggle with global warming, inequalities, hunger and poverty, lack of transparent and non-corrupted institutions.

Another argument is the fact that legal communities hold a unique position in the delivery of a new development agenda through enforcement of the rule of law. Moreover, when speaking of law, the Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions aims at providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Overall, it is enough to establish a connection between the SDGs and a law program. Maybe it’s time to consider a change in the curriculum.

Whether there is room for integration, YES there is! Whether a full integration? Or possibly, partial? During one of the interviews with an IEL lecturer, the integration could be done by means of projects, comprehensive analysis during the workshops, guest lectures where students would have the chance to hear about and practice the use of the SDGs. If you haven’t checked yet, I would recommend looking at other universities’ commitment to the SDGs. Regarding my findings, consider my technical report which entails an extensive analysis on this topic. 

Undeniably, there are arguments on both sides. SDGs are relatively criticized  as Mr. Duncan points out. Also, global production and consumption indicators show quite a big contradiction. Indeed, the SDGs might not be perfect, in fact, they are not. But the point that the Global Goals exist is important and valuable. I mean something not yet perfect is still better than something not existent at all.

As for the law students, I think they definitely have to know about the SDGs’ existence and tailor their applicability to professional situations.