RCE Greater Atlanta - 2019

Transforming Education and Society through University-Community Partnerships - an RCE Greater Atlanta Track hosted at the Atlanta Global Studies Symposium on UN Sustainable Development Goals in Education, Research, and Community Engagement.
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Transforming Education and Society through University-Community Partnerships - an RCE Greater Atlanta Track hosted at the Atlanta Global Studies Symposium on UN Sustainable Development Goals in Education, Research, and Community Engagement.
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Atlanta
Contributing organization(s) : 
-The Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, Georgia Institute of Technology
-The Atlanta Global Studies Center, Georgia Institute of Technology
-School of Modern Languages, Georgia Institute of Technology
-Global Studies Institute, Center for Human Rights & Democracy, World Languages & Cultures, Office of International Initiatives, Georgia State University
- Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Development Studies Program, Center for International Business Education and Research, School of Economics, School of Public Policy, Global Change Program, School of History and Sociology, Center for Education Integrating Science Mathematics & Computing, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Sam Nuun School of International Affairs, School of City and Regional Planning, Office of the Executive Vice President of Research, Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Georgia Department of Education
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Jennifer Hirsch
Organizational Affiliation: 
Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain
Format of project: 
Report; video recording
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Additional resources: 
Symposium website: https://atlantaglobalstudies.gatech.edu/atlanta-global-studies-symposium

Video recording of the track's three sessions with brief descriptions of each session.

-Transforming Education and Society Through University-Community Partnerships:

-Session 1: Advancing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Through RCEs.
Through multi-sector collaboration and innovative problem-solving, United Nations University has invited regions around the world to form
collaborations called Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development – “RCEs.” RCEs harness the power of education to
advance the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Guest speaker Kim Smith, co-founder of RCE Greater Portland, will present foundations
in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), illustrate priorities to achieve UNESCO’s Global Action Programme on ESD, and highlight ways
that RCEs around the world are advancing ESD in their regions. This session will open with a brief introduction to RCE Greater Atlanta, one
of seven RCEs in the U.S. and 171 in the world.

-Session 2: Successes and Challenges in Promoting a Sustainable Future: Regional and Global Perspectives from RCEs around the World.
This session brings perspectives on sustainable development from RCE colleagues across the globe. From the U.S. Atlantic Coastline to Mexico
to Hamburg, the participants will share their experiences promoting sustainable development through university-community partnerships
focused on education, research, community development, economic revitalization and environmental restoration.

-Session 3: Bringing it Home: Lessons and Next Steps for Building Partnerships in RCE Greater Atlanta.
This facilitated, interactive session will analyze and synthesize best practices in promoting RCE Greater Atlanta’s priority SDGs, gleaned from
earlier sessions. Priority SDGs include: SDG1-No Poverty, SDG2-Zero Hunger, SDG3-Good Health and Well-Being, SDG4-Quality Education,
SDG9-Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG11-Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG13-Climate Action. The goal here is to exchange
ideas and facilitate collaborations among RCE Greater Atlanta members inside and outside higher education, as well as with our colleagues from
regional and global RCEs. The session will conclude by outlining concrete next steps for advancing the SDGs through education, research
and action partnerships.
Geographical & Education Information
United States
Atlanta, Georgia
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Clough Commons, Suite 205 A
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Atlanta metropolitan area is known as a place of economic opportunity, good jobs and quality education, as well as one of the greenest urban centers in the US. Moreover, it has a substantial black middle-class and is an important center of African-American cultural production and educational opportunities with its impressive cluster of historically black colleges.
Despite these achievements, Metro Atlanta is one of the worst performing in terms of inclusion by race (according to Brookings Metro Monitor 2019). Moreover, in 2018 Brookings Institution ranked Atlanta #1 among US cities in terms of wealth and income inequality. The city is marked by racial segregation and concentrated poverty, gentrification and displacement and has one of the lowest social mobility rates for its poorest population. Finally, the city has been rated as one of the most congested and least pedestrian friendly in the country.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Our goal was to foster dialogue and collaboration between university and community partners to address Metro Atlanta sustainability issues including providing quality education (SDG #4), working toward social and environmental justice (SDG #16) and tapping into local solutions for making Greater Atlanta safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable (SDG #11).
April, 2019
Solving sustainability issues requires collaborative, academia-community, cross-institutional and interdisciplinary approaches. Our track brought together university and community partners from across the globe to discuss the diverse approaches, successes and challenges in addressing sustainability issues through research, teaching and community development. The track harnessed the expertise of scholars and practitioners of sustainability in both sciences and humanities, while also seeking direct feedback from the audience to set goals and brainstorm projects to be taken by RCE Atlanta in the next activity period.
1)facilitate collaboration between university and community in promoting sustainability by providing a venue for a direct exchange of ideas.
2)seek direct feedback from the audience to set actions for engaging faculty in the RCE Greater Atlanta and advancing the work of the Higher Education Learning Community Work Group.
3) establish partnerships and facilitate networking to increase impact and visibility.
4)educate the community and university audience on and illustrate priorities to achieve UNESCO's Global Action Programme on ESD.
5)provide case studies on addressing sustainability challenges globally and domestically to learn from our colleagues abroad and in the US.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The track consisted of three sessions.
-The focal points of the first session were an introduction to the work of the RCE Greater Atlanta followed by a presentation by a scholar and RCE co-founder from Portland, Oregon. She illustrated priorities to achieve UNESCO's GAP on ESD, and spoke about her own sustainability work in Portland.
-The second session provided case studies on best practices and challenges in sustainability work in Mexico, Germany and coastal Southeastern USA.
-The last facilitated and interactive session had a two-fold goal. First scholars and community leaders focused on finding common denominators in university-community efforts to address sustainability challenges and advance the SDGs. They shared their experience in implementing the SDGs in their work, including mobilization of communities, teaching in both humanities and sciences, research and government action. The second half of the session engaged the audience in facilitated group discussions. The participants focused on setting goals and outlining next steps to be taken by RCE Greater Atlanta to advance the SDGs.
RCE Greater Atlanta also contributed to the Symposium Poster Session, submitting 8 out of 11 featured posters. Poster topics emphasized current and future collaborative faculty-community and faculty-student efforts in implementing the SDGs.
Size of academic audience: 
The RCE Sustainability Track provided a highly effective, constructive and collaborative framework for engaging a diverse group of people in a conversation about Metro Atlanta Sustainability challenges, as well as for working out strategies to face these challenges. Community leaders, scholars, students and broader audience offered critical insights into issues of equity, environmental justice, youth mobilization and incorporating sustainability into teaching, research and service. The track also offered an important comparative perspective on working toward advancing the SDGS and achieving UNESCO's Global Action Programme on ESD through first-hand accounts of sustainability work in Portland, Oregon, South Carolina, Mexico and Germany. Importantly, as a result of analysis and critical discussion, the audience worked out a list of recommendations and actions to take to advance the work of RCE Greater Atlanta.
Lessons learned: 
To promote university-community partnership in addressing sustainability, engage faculty in RCE Greater Atlanta and advance the work of the HELC Work Group, track participants recommended the following key actions:
Action # 1 - Build a digital learning platform offering learning tools that can be incorporated by faculty at our institutions and used by others.
Action #2 - Organize speaker series that will help faculty meet each other, learn about each other’s work, and form partnerships.
Action # 3 - Seek to broker internships connecting community partners with higher education programs.
Action # 4 - Seek to fund fellowships across the institutions that include events and resources that bring the fellows together to learn from each other.
Action # 5 - Help researchers design interventions together with community partners.
Action # 6 - Provide staff support to translate research results at our institutions into policy proposals and to advocate for these proposals with government bodies and stakeholders.
Action # 7 - Develop and deliver an Academy-style training program to aid community leaders to achieve their goals related to sustainability.
Action # 8 - Develop a database of community groups and community group interests.
Action # 9 - Prepare an inventory of projects related to sustainability under way on our campuses.
Key messages: 
One of the key issues raised during the track was the necessity of transforming academia into a medium that would be representative of and serve the broader community. Our track tapped into a whole institution approach to sustainability by harnessing the knowledge and experience of a diverse audience inside and outside higher education and by providing a venue to explore collectively and collaboratively strategies to face Metro Atlanta sustainability challenges.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The track facilitated the HELC Work Group planning for engaging faculty into RCE Greater Atlanta and seeking and promoting university-community partnership.
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 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
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 
Curriculum Development 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers