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Press release

UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals become SDU’s goals

The University of Southern Denmark (SDU) is about to undertake the largest transformation in the history of the university.

Students and researchers at SDU are now set to move the world in a more sustainable direction by creating the economic, social and environmental development laid down in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On Monday 17 June 2019, the Executive Board of the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) decided that these key goals are to become the focal point for SDU’s work as a university. It is a fundamental transformation of SDU – one that will permeate decisions taken throughout the organisation and its activities.

“We are going ‘all in‘on all 17 SDGs, and not just a few selected ones. Extreme poverty and hunger at a global level, reducing inequality and combating climate change are all closely linked and require an integrated effort to achieve lasting results,” says Niels Thorborg, chairman of the board at SDU.

A radical change

The transformation will be realized through many new initiatives. Among these is the development of 17 new 1-year master programmes – one for each of UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The introduction days for all new students will also be redesigned to have the SDG’s as their focus. And from 2020, SDU will host a youth rally on “Our Global Goals” in Odense – a people’s democratic festival on UN’s 17 SDGs for public school students and high-school students as well as students in higher education.

The basis for the transformation will be research and education.

We are going 'all in' on all 17 SDGs, and not just a few selected ones.

Niels Thorborg, chairman of the board

“We are in a unique position to shape SDU education programmes and research so the UN SDGs are a natural part of young people’s perspective when they enter the job market. It’s not just about our own bad habits – it’s also about implementing solutions to the needs of the world,” explains Henrik Dam, Vice-Chancellor of SDU.

“I think it is a very good idea that we incorporate the existing  SDGs into our courses. Of course, this must not affect the quality of SDU programmes. Fortunately, we have an opportunity to help make sure of this,” says Morten Kofod Hansen chairperson of Syddanske Studerende (SDS – the South Danish Students), which is the largest student organisation at SDU.

The transformation will be extensive for SDU

In the coming months, a process will be implemented that will involve and mobilise researchers as well as students at SDU. They will contribute content to the transformation of the university.

At SDU, we have an obligation to educate the youth of the future to create value, not just for the local society, but also for the world community. The same applies to our research activities. This decision will have an extensive effect on the entire way we run the university.

Henrik Dam, Vice-Chancellor of SDU

This announcement is welcomed by student chairperson Morten Kofod Hansen.

“SDU becomes the first university in Denmark – perhaps even the first in the world – that will work so wholeheartedly towards achieving all the SDGs. And I think it’s great. But it is also very ambitious, so it is important that there is solid action behind the decision.”

About SDU

  • Provides research and teaching in health sciences, social sciences, natural sciences, technical sciences and the humanities
  • Provides approx. 170 different education programmes
  • Has campuses in Odense, Copenhagen, Slagelse, Esbjerg, Sønderborg and Kolding
  • Has about 28,000 students
  • Has about 4,000 employees, mainly consisting of researchers and administrative staff
  • Was inaugurated in 1966 in Odense