SU International
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​​​​​​​Future17 Sustainable Development Goals Programme ​​​​​​​

E_SDG_logo_without_UN_emblem_horizontal_RGB-1024x187.pngAre you interested in Sustainable Development? 

Would you like to help solve global sustainability challenges for international organisations? 

Do you want to acquire some transferable skills to increase your employability? 

Learn about the key aspect of the UN's SDGs (Sustain​able Development Goals) in this innovative new programme: The 17 SDGs were adopted by 195 UN member nations in 2015, to end poverty, protect the environment and planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all citizens on earth by 2030. Each SDG balances social, economical, and environmental sustainability​.​

The Programme: The Future17 SDG Short Course Programme offers a unique opportunity to take part in a new global sustainability education programme across disciplines and cultures set by the SDG Challenge Partners. It will use the UN’s SDGs as a framework to help find solutions for the global, interdisciplinary challenges we are facing, while building participants’ key employability, critical thinking and presentation skills. Participants will use collaborative and innovative ways to approach challenges, working with the partner universities and mentors assigned by the different institutions.  You can read more about the UN's Agenda 2030 and the SDGs here.


The Institutions: This prestigious short course is presented by the University of Exeter (UK), QS World University Rankings and a consortium of universities. Stellenbosch University forms part of this consortium, alongside the Chinese University of Hong Kong and São Paulo (Brazil). The Challenge Partners include organisations like​ NGOs, institutions and companies (full list below) that have conceptualised challenges for the programme.

Programme structure: This programme is part-time, and offered free of cost to participants as selected by the selection panel. It takes place in an online environment with the partner universities from mid-February to late May 2022 during the inaugural offering of the programme. With this short course (presented virtually), we hope to transform how students at SU are educated on Sustainable Development, as they prepare to become the leaders and policy makers of tomorrow. Candidates that are accepted into the programme will learn and develop those skills needed to help solve real world problems and sustainability challenges.  

Eligibility: Undergraduate students from 2nd year onwards, as well as postgraduates following a taught programme. 

Participants can expect the following from the programme: 

  • Promote skills for Design Thinking as a way of mobilising creative, visual, inter-personal, iterative and multi-configurational approaches to problem solving; 
  • Enable students to appreciate the importance of interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and inter-cultural exchange and learning for tackling sustainable development challenges; 
  • Develop students’ critical thinking skills to question conventional assumptions about sustainable development challenges through Design Thinking approaches; 
  • Develop employability skills by providing a space for students to work intensively with academic and SDG Challenge Partner mentors on a sustainable development challenge of mutual interest; 
  • Enable students to gain an appreciation of the sustainable development challenges facing SDG Challenge Partners and how these can be responded to appropriately; 
  • Develop skills for promoting change within organizational settings and developing systems and mechanisms to support such changes; 
  • Develop professional presentation and report writing skills for external organizations; 
  • Promote students’ awareness of and interest in applying academic knowledge to sustainable development challenges in a professional setting; 
  • Provide students with an opportunity to generate non-academic impact for tackling sustainable development challenges.  

Programme phases: The Programme will progress according to the following phases with diverse groups of 6-8 students from the various universities, you can expect to spend approximately 150 hours on the programme in total, including consultations with the company you are partnered with. 


Part 1: 25-February to Mid-March: Online program induction and skills for tackling sustainability challenges (self-paced learning) 

  • Learn about design thinking, collaborative learning and teamwork, liaison with organisations and clients as well as intercultural exchange.  
  • ​​You will need approximately 12 hours to complete this phase
  • You will be assigned to your team and mentor during this phase.  

Part 2: Mid-March to mid-May: Group collaboration on a sustainability challenge (eight weeks plus one week for assessment preparation) 

  • Learn about your sustainability challenge and work with your team and mentor to develop solutions.  
  • You will primarily work on MS Teams as a meeting and document sharing platform.
  • You will need approximately 16 hours for this phase.

Part 3: Future17 Solutions Showcase event: Late May (final week) 

  • Student group presentations online (25 minutes) to showcase work to offer further collaborative learning. 
  • You will need approximately ​4 hours for this phase.
  • Submit a final written assignment one week after the event.  

In addition to the hands-on time needed for the different phases as above, you might expect to spend another ​​90 hours on independent study and collaborating with your group to complete the project, presentation and final assignment. ​

Project partners: The following SDG Challenge Partners are currently engaged in shaping projects: 

  • Accenture 
  • Dell
  • Diversey
  • EY 
  • Foundation for Sustainable Development 
  • Hochwald Foods 
  • IKEA 
  • Intel 
  • Government of Gibraltar 
  • Greeneum Network 
  • PwC 
  • Morgan Stanley 
  • SDG Exchange Inc. 
  • United Nations Working Group on Climate Change & Environment 

Accreditation: You will be certified for this short course by QS University rankings on the successful completion of the project. There will be both formative (group presentations on project progress) and summative (group presentation and written report). During this inaugural/pilot phase of the programme, Exeter and CHUK will offer credits to their participating students. Each of the other members (including Stellenbosch) will explore formal recognition according to own policies, in addition to the QS accreditation. We are exploring co-curricular or short course accreditation that will be reflected on your formal university transcript. This is, however, a work in progress and may not be concluded by the end of the pilot programme in May​


Apply now: Please submit your application as below by 11:00 PM SAST on 20 February 2022. Your submission will be considered by a selection panel at the International Office and you will be notified of the outcome by 25 February 2022 The sign-up form will ask you basic demographic and degree questions (for reporting and planning purposes), as well as ask you to motivate why you would be the ideal candidate to take part in the programme. Sign-up Form

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