USJ joins Global Summit for Student Affairs Services on UN SDGs





USJ attended the 5th biannual Global Summit for Student Affairs and Services organised by the International Association of Student Affairs and Services.

Prof. Maria Rita Silva of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Education, Ms. Teresa Loong, Head of the Office for Student and Alumni Affairs (OSAA)  and Mr. Ben Lei of the Residential Hall team, attended the 5th biannual Global Summit for Student Affairs and Services organised by the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS) between the 24th to the 27th of May 2021.

Nearly 100 participants from the higher education sector, spanning from five continents, have come together to share and discuss under the overarching theme: The Alignment of Student Affairs and Services with Higher Education’s Goals of Social Justice. The topics focused on four selected UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities, and Climate Action; and Student Affairs in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rich and comprehensive Summit included regional and inter-regional discussions and sharing among the Student Affairs and Services practitioners, as well as a keynote speech by Miss Margaret Biggs from Queen’s University and IDRC, a student panel delivered by four students from the host, University of Toronto, and 25 pre-recorded YouTube video presentations from Student Affairs professionals from all five continents.

Amongst the videos was Prof. Maria Rita Silva’s contribution, the only academic representative from the Greater Bay Area in the Summit,  as she discuses the development and ongoing work of USJ in the SDGs, how USJ converted initiatives into structured programmes, and how to identify the future SDG areas for improvement.

In the regional and inter-regional hubs, participants shared their best practices and thoughts about aligning Student Affairs with SDGs. They looked forward to having a greater area for collaboration among the associations.  Both differences and similarities are found among the regions, in terms of both strategies and solutions to promote the SDGs and our agenda around the achievement of social justice goals.

As with the previous summits, IASAS will produce a position paper, based on the inputs of all participants, that will be submitted for publication in regional publications, the University World News (UWN), and the UNESCO’s World Conference on Higher Education. The 6th summit will be hosted by University College Cork in 2022 and the 7th is expected to be in 2024.