RCE Greater Atlanta - 2018

Leveraging RCE Greater Atlanta Member Institution ESD Initiatives for Youth Empowerment and Mobilization and the Formation of the RCE Greater Atlanta Youth Network
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Leveraging RCE Greater Atlanta Member Institution ESD Initiatives for Youth Empowerment and Mobilization and the Formation of the RCE Greater Atlanta Youth Network
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Atlanta
Contributing organization(s) : 
Georgia Institute of Technology; Emory University, Kennesaw State University
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Kristina Chatfield
Organizational Affiliation: 
Georgia Institute of Technology
Sienna Nordquist
Organizational Affiliation: 
Emory University
Lisa Smith
Organizational Affiliation: 
Kennesaw State University
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Friday, July 13, 2018
Geographical & Education Information
United States
Greater Atlanta region, Georgia
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Georgia Institute of Technology, Clough Commons, Suite 205E, 266 Fourth Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30332-0940
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Atlanta Metro region is vibrant and diverse, with a history of advancing civil rights and economic growth, while struggling to reconcile systemic racism. With the 10th largest economy in the U.S. and the largest in the Southeastern U.S., Metro Atlanta’s 2015 GDP of $339 billion ranked it in the top 35 economies globally. Atlanta grew as a transportation hub for the southeastern U.S. Natural resources abound and the environmental assets of the region have facilitated its growth. Challenges include the area’s rapid expansion and urbanization, compounded by issues such as climate change, human migration patterns, and agricultural intensification.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
RCE Greater Atlanta has identified seven priority SDGs: Good Health & Well-Being, Zero Hunger, Sustainable Cities & Communities, Climate Action, Quality Education, Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure, and No Poverty. The two biggest system-level challenges that Atlanta must address are Equity and Resilience. A legacy of systemic racism has created disparities, including access to fresh food and areas of high environmental contamination. Infrastructure systems are under increasing stress and these pressures impact natural systems, and social and economic indicators. Increasing the capacity and resilience of these systems to manage more volume and absorb shocks is another key sustainability challenge.
Sustainability initiatives led by student groups that engage with professors, NGOs, IGOs, and other community partners are necessary to advance youth voices, train the next generation of leaders, and continue the SDGs conversation from a different perspective. Students must be supported in their initiatives to start their own platforms and campaigns if universities are to reach their full potential for SDG education, action, and mobilization. Undergraduate populations are the largest voice on any college campus, and providing students with leadership training and support for student-led initiatives and projects through a Youth Network, leveraging programs that already exist at member institutions, is one of the most crucial steps an RCE can take to accelerate grassroots transformation.
The objectives of the various university initiatives include educating and training students to become leaders who are knowledgeable about the SDGs; contributing to intersectional and cross-campus/cross-university conversations; strategizing scalable solutions tailored to different microcosms of the university system; and initiating and implementing student projects focused on raising awareness about the SDG and contributing to the accomplishment of the goals.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Activities have included a year-long series of SDG themed, public events, monthly meetings and quarterly retreats designed to provide students with leadership training and training on the SDGs, and smaller, targeted events designed to spur discussion among existing student organizations and local partners related to the role of the SDGs and how action can be localized and actualized in the region. Student leaders from member institutions are identified and strategies for the formation of the Youth Network are being implemented.
Size of academic audience: 
Individual events and programs focused on ESD have reached between 40 – 200 participants, per event.
One of the key goals of the RCE is the formation of an active Youth Network. Leveraging existing initiatives on our member campuses to reach interested and engaged students is critical. These initiatives on the campuses of Georgia Tech, Emory, and Kennesaw State served to increase student awareness and interest in the SDGs and to see sustainability beyond the environment, especially as related to social justice and community; promote interest among students in pursuing intersectional research proposals related to sustainability; increase growth in student leadership skills and preparation of students as global leaders; empower and mobilize students
Lessons learned: 
There is a tremendous amount of opportunity within the student bodies of the RCE member institutions. Events and programs generate interest and excitement among student participants related to the SDGs and ESD. However, focused organization and attention with regard to the development of the Youth Network and associated initiatives need to be addressed in order to maintain student interest and participation, as well as future growth and sustainability of the Network. RCE Greater Atlanta is new and the Youth Network is still under development.
Key messages: 
Students are eager to join conversations and events that intersect with their mission and focus but need the support of a formalized Youth Network to form leaders, provide SDG-focused education, expand their reach, and help them engage and take action to accomplish their goals
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The formation of a Youth Network, focused on college students in the Atlanta region, is a primary goal of RCE Greater Atlanta.
A small amount of funding for individual student and student group initiatives at specific campuses is provided by the host institution. The RCE Youth Network will actively be seeking additional funding sources for Network initiatives.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level