The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the sustainable development goals have practically become key benchmarks for institutions, organisations, social entities, businesses and universities today. They are particularly significant for universities, as we are responsible for shedding light on innovation based on science and leading social transformation.
A good approach to this challenge calls for some prior consideration. The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs are not the Marshall Plan of the 21st century aimed at the most disadvantaged or developing countries. They are far more than that; they are a roadmap for the world, for everyone, not only for states but also for all the actors and substate institutions involved.
Therefore, it is not merely a question of activism or adding new targeted actions to our longstanding activities and tasks. The aim is, above all, to transform ourselves and the vision of our universities; to rethink ourselves as actors working for the common good; to perceive ourselves as individuals and organisations challenged and questioned by a horizon of social transformation. The aim is, ultimately, to exercise our social responsibility within the framework of a shared, transformative humanistic project on a global scale. This is the real challenge.
This is also the approach underlying the Times Higher Education University Impact Forum – SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) which will bring together leaders and experts from universities worldwide in Bilbao on 20 and 21 February 2020. The forum will examine and discuss the current and future commitment and contribution of universities to the promotion of peace and justice. In fact, peace, justice, inclusion, human rights, fundamental freedoms, good governance – these are part of the DNA of academia.
The forum will revolve around three main axes: the university’s mission and the contribution of education, research and transfer to SDG 16; public policies to promote the university’s social commitment and its contribution as an active actor; and the university-civil society interaction and the strategies of collaboration and articulation of networks for peace, justice and solid institutions.
José María Guibert
University of Deusto
The University of Deusto was inaugurated in 1886 with the aim of providing the Basque country with its own university and allowing the Jesuits to establish a higher education institution in some part of the Spanish state. Then, in 1916, what was known as the Universidad Comercial de Deusto received a group of students who would be the first graduates in economic sciences in Spain.
Nowadays, Bilbao is a metropolitan area with more than one million inhabitants – a city traditionally open to Europe. The university is located on two campuses – Bilbao and San Sebastian – with the main one sitting on the estuary facing the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, an emblematic symbol of the significant transformation of the city over the past three decades.
The University of Deusto has around 10,000 students, 600 professors and 1,200 visiting professors, and is a part of an international network formed by 202 educational institutions that provide a Jesuit pedagogical tradition.
Beyond individual projects and research in areas such as law, the human genome, leisure and disabilities, there are opportunities at the university to work on social topics, including interdependency, distribution of resources, migration, human rights, development, poverty and environment, ethics and society. Studies on cultural identity (individual and collective) and European integration processes are also being carried out by various international research groups.
The university is striving for internationalisation – approximately 1,300 students and 50 professors take part in mobility programmes. The faculties, institutes and schools are also involved in intensive programmes, European modules and joint curricular designs at various levels as they participate in cross-border activities, integrated languages, online distance learning and Leonardo programmes.
The entire institution adopted the European credit system in 1994, and works to promote it and improve its quality. Deusto was the first European university to extend European credits to all of its faculties.