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Diplomacy Students Generate Ideas to Advance UN Sustainable Development Goals  

Seven high school students and five prospective graduate students from across the nation and around the world presented their innovative ideas for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on April 26 at Seton Hall. The presentations were the culmination of the annual UN Sustainable Development Challenge hosted by the Center for UN and Global Governance Studies at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations.

In his remarks to the participants, Chris Whatley, Executive Director of United Nations Association of the United States and one of the judges for the Challenge, noted that Seton Hall plays an important role in thought leadership on the United Nations.

Students at the United Nations Sustainable Development Challenge. The UN SDG Challenge inspires the next generation of thinkers to continue this tradition by empowering students to present proposals that address Global Goals to a panel of civil society and academic leaders. Finalists drew on their individual backgrounds and experiences to create practical, creative ideas to address one or more of the 17 SDGs, which include ending poverty, eliminating hunger, and establishing gender equality. Meghan Sullivan, a high school student from Connecticut who took first place in the high school level competition, developed her proposal based on direct experience with educational projects in Sri Lanka. She developed a plan to comprehensively address the lack of teacher training in this South Asian country of roughly 21 million. Another finalist, and New Jersey native, Mariam Hosseini, applied her experience with Ramadan to craft a "Fast 4 a Day, Feed a Family 4 a Day," proposal that applies lessons from this holiday to tackle hunger.

Innovative technology was prominently featured at the Challenge finals. The first-place winner in the graduate level competition, Cristine Villaruel, created an app to help address mobility problems in the Philippines. Other finalists used apps to address journalist safety, government transparency, and education. Second place winners Swetha Sivagurunathan and Damaris Maundu, on the other hand, took a more grassroots approach in their strategies to address, respectively, period poverty and the effects of climate change on farming. They offered low-tech solutions that recognize the importance of working within community norms.

Student at the UNSDGJudges, finalists and audience members alike ended the day energized by the variety of presentations and thoughtful ideas. Dr. Martin Edwards, associate professor of international relations at Seton Hall and a judge for the challenge, told participants that "this is always an event that leaves us inspired, and that inspiration stems from your ideas and your talent."

The Center for UN and Global Governance Studies, which sponsors the UN SDG Challenge, explores themes related to the U.S./UN relationship, international organizations as independent actors, and more, with a focus on coordinating faculty and student research and serving as a voice for outreach on United Nations scholarship. The Center is based at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy, a professional school of international relations with an exclusive alliance with UNA-USA offering multiple avenues for study and involvement with the United Nations.

Learn more about the Center for UN and Global Governance Studies by visiting their webpage »

Categories: Nation and World


Flickr UN SDG Challenge 2019

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View the Full Set on Flickr »

For more information, please contact:

  • Gwen DeBenedetto
  • (973) 276-2562
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