Teaching the SDGs: As Easy as 1-2-3! The Sustainable Development Goals in Your Classroom

In September 2015, world leaders met at the UN Headquarters in New York to develop the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: a cohesive and ambitious 15-year plan for protecting the planet, reducing poverty, and improving quality of life for nations worldwide. The SDGs can be an excellent way to take a solution-minded approach to teaching about climate change and social justice in the classroom.

What are the SDGs? 

The sustainable development goals not only put into motion an action plan for the next decade and a half, but also a series of indicators by which to evaluate a nation’s compliance. Each SDG constitutes a series of targets/goals that adhere to a specific theme or idea. The numbered headings, speak to specific goals to reach by 2030, whereas the lettered sub-headings refer to overarching goals that guide the targets.  There are 17 SDGs in all, and they cover 169 “associated targets which are integrated and indivisible.” As such, they make for an excellent touchstone for any educators interested in taking a human-centered approach to environmental science. 

Connecting SDGs to curriculum:

Still, finding ways to connect the SDGs to your curriculum can be tricky, since there more than enough barriers that stand in the way of interested and passionate educators, like:

  1. The vastness of the SDGs; what renders them powerful can also make it difficult to pinpoint a specific perspective in order to support and engage students
  2. Finding time to fit teaching the SDGs into an already crammed schedule, which has to prioritize CCSS and NGSS, state standards, and meeting district or school-wide curriculum goals

Well, have no fear! Here at Population Education, we will be working to showcase the Sustainable Development Goals and linking them to discrete lessons that will take interdisciplinary, hands-on, solution-minded approach to connect students with the SDGs. As always, our lessons are already linked to state and national standards, with measurable objectives, various forms of assessment, and extensions, giving you a wealth of opportunities to meet your classroom needs and approach the SDGs in ways that promote skill-building and content knowledge.

Population Education SDG Series:

Below is a dynamic list of SDG goals that will be linked to particular lessons. Be sure to keep an eye out, as this post will continue to change as we add more content!

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages 
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 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all