Home>Looking back at the 2021 SDG Certificate Leadership seminar 1/2


Looking back at the 2021 SDG Certificate Leadership seminar 1/2

This year's SDG cohort began their program with the SDG Leadership Seminar, which took place from 19-22 January 2021. Student teams joined from all over the world, coming from the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, the Hertie School, Columbia SIPA, GraSPP University of Tokyo, and the LKY School National University of Singapore. Throughout the week, they participated in the SDG Innovation Lab and met with experts coming from different institutions including the OECD and the Agence Française de Développement. Below, one of our student groups selected from the School of Public Affairs shares their experience from the Leadership Seminar and their goals for the SDG Certificate.

>Why did you decide to apply to the SDG Certificate and what do you hope to gain from the program?

Shuo: The main reason why I wanted to apply to the SDG Certificate is that it is a hard-won opportunity for us to link the theories we have learned with practical cases. It provides us with a chance to bring the theories to life, which means maximizing the value of the theory. Also, living in the historical background of globalization, it is crucial to pay attention to some universal values, like the SDGs for example. Because of those two reasons, namely, the willingness to bring theories into practice, and to fully understand the Sustainable Development Goals, I decided to join the SDG Certificate. Furthermore, this program is also composed of outstanding students from all over the world, so it will be a great chance for me to meet more friends and to share our different points of view together. 

What were some of the highlights from the SDG Certificate Leadership seminar in January? Key takeaways that you learned?

Tian:First, what strikes me the most is that we could talk to the project experts directly, and that they were willing to share their first-hand experience. Drawing on their advice, we could modify our project and view our project from a more practical and detailed perspective. Second, we have learned some key aspects of design thinking, allowing us to include specific tools that broadened our horizons so we could further utilize  stakeholder mappings, and other elements to enrich our project. Third, we were inspired by other teams’ projects as well. Although they have focused on different SDG goals, we shared some similarities which we could shed light on. For instance, we learned from the group from Columbia SIPA to take advantage of technology to achieve the SDG goals, which helped us to think out of the box. We think it is a wonderful opportunity to learn from others who come from different backgrounds, knowledge and experience. 

What inspired you to work on the topic that you chose for your project? And can you tell us about your initial project idea?

Zixin: Actually after the pandemic lockdown, we four chatted a lot online and talked about our opinions on social inequalities in our home country which have been exaggerated during COVID-19. Therefore, when it comes to developing our project, we decided unanimously and firmly to work on that together. Regarding the topic of the African community, we choose it because minority issues such as misunderstanding, exclusion, and discrimination are fueled by this public health emergency, while scientific evidence demonstrates the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities, partly because of their limited access to healthcare services. This happens, unfortunately, in Guangzhou, in China, in Asia, but also in every other corner across the world where minority communities exist. Because of this, we’d like to build up a solid model based on territorial characteristics, from a very micro perspective and hopefully be able to apply the solution to more generalized contexts. 

How did your different backgrounds contribute to the team and to allow you to come up with your project proposal? 

Group: Our team is diverse, focused and cooperative. We had several rounds of intensive brainstorming and and plans for the distribution of work. Coming from three different policy streams, each of us tries to bring our best to the project. Tian already had experience in project management from the FAO in 2019 to develop an SDG solution, in line with her policy stream of Social Policy and Social Innovation. She pays attention to the inequality of access to social welfare, which serves as a foundation for her taking part in the project. Shuo has several internship experiences concerning government relations and European Affairs. She has also participated in the SDG public affairs analysis competition and has experience in quantitative analysis. She focuses on quantitative analysis and the government-related affairs in the project. Zixin comes from a human science background and has a particular interest in research on various historical, societal, and cultural factors. She is passionate about international development projects, where she can apply her multilingual communication skills and knowledge of public policy. Yuhong majored in international relations during her undergraduate degree and had two previous internships in government departments and NGOs, allowing her to gain knowledge about analysis methods in the social science field. She is quite familiar with analyzing, designing and evaluating policy from the angle of participants.

What are you most looking forward to this semester for the SDG Certificate?

Yuhong: The SDG Certificate program provides us an opportunity to solve practical cases that exist in our society. By doing so, we can put the theories of policy analysis, designing and implementation learned from the courses into practice, and gain a deeper understanding of the topic. In addition, solving a social issue requires the consideration of various factors, including economic, social, environmental, public-private partnerships, and more. Compared with analyzing a certain topic from an economic aspect in my own stream, participating in the SDG Certificate program in a group with teammates from different research backgrounds (culture, international relations, social policy) can help us dive into public policy more comprehensively and have greater insight into the SDGs and today’s challenges.

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