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Volunteers' Week: Mapping the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the King's curriculum

Zaynab Hussain

BSc Biomedical Science student

01 June 2022

King’s student Zaynab Hussain (BSc Biomedical Science) volunteered with the King’s Sustainability team to identify where social and environmental sustainability currently features in the King’s curriculum by mapping out the modules across the university. Using the 17 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Sustainability Team’s project aims to highlight all the modules at King's where social and environmental sustainability are currently being taught across the curriculum as well as identify the gaps where elements of sustainability can be integrated. This project was driven by student and staff volunteers, who received training from Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK) to enable them to map the King’s curriculum against the SDGs and build key skills in auditing, research and data analysis. In this feature, Zaynab shares her experience of volunteering as an Education for Sustainable Development Auditor.

The SDG Curriculum Mapping exercise aims to survey the modules offered at King’s against the 17 SDGS. There were many factors that motivated me to get involved and sign up as a volunteer Education for Sustainable Development Auditor. For example, I have a key interest and passion for sustainability and believe that, if you are able to, you should play a part in helping to transform the world and making Earth as sustainable as possible. Earth is a gift given to us and as human beings we have a role of maintaining its beauty whilst looking after it, which I was able to do through the SDG Curriculum Mapping exercise.

The UN SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to transform the world by 2030. This exercise required student volunteer auditors who were trained by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK) and the King’s Sustainability team to audit King’s modules on a point scale as to what extent each module includes each SDG. The volunteer auditors were each assigned a set of modules to map.

SOS-UK is an education charity created by the student movement in 2019 in response to the climate emergency and ecological crisis. The training and mapping exercise were undertaken remotely throughout March. This was great as I was able to complete the mapping activity in my own time, which meant I could fit the volunteering around my schedule, accommodating my lifestyle and university timetable.

This voluntary opportunity also allowed me to develop many skills such as auditing, independence, decision making and collaboration. These skills are transferable and very useful in any sector. Lastly, I was able to get an insight into how sustainability is embedded in education at King’s and what improvements could be made. Above all, becoming an Education for Sustainable Development Auditor was a great way for me to play a key part in improving sustainability and giving back to the King’s community!

Taking part in the SDG’s mapping exercise has definitely changed the way I think about my lifestyle and education as it has made me more aware of my actions. I now have a good understanding of how modules at King’s integrate the SDGs and how improvements can be made to better integrate the SDGs into the curriculum.

The experience also allowed me to make connections and build my network as there were student auditors involved from many different King’s faculties and from different backgrounds. It was very inspiring seeing everyone’s enthusiasm and passion to volunteer and complete the SDG mapping. Saniya, a King’s student said that she found the mapping to be ‘a really enlightening experience; and that it allowed her to make ‘an important contribution to King’s’. I couldn’t agree more!

Throughout the process, the passion of everyone involved motivated me to be part of the team and complete the SDG mapping. It was also reassuring to know I had the support of SOS-UK, the King’s Sustainability team and the other auditors.

The SDG Curriculum Mapping exercise is a really great way to show how volunteering can come in many different forms as people sometimes assume it involves some sort of physical activity. This was a brilliant opportunity to involve students from the beginning into what they want their education to look like and act as true key stakeholders. More and more students are wanting to learn about sustainability and truly take hold of their learning and, with this exercise, they were able to translate this agency into action.– Tasnia Yasmin, Sustainability Projects Assistant

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