Future17: Sustainable Development Goals Challenge
Do you want to learn more about how to tackle real-world sustainable development challenges?
Do you want to have experience of working on a real-world sustainable development challenge set by a business, NGO, charity or public sector organisation?
Do you want to develop collaborative skills for sustainable development with learners from different national and cultural settings?
Do you want to have the opportunity to pitch your innovative ideas for tackling a sustainable development challenge to a business, NGO, charity or public sector organisation?
Then Future17 is for you:
Future17 is a new global initiative between the University of Exeter, QS and a consortium of leading international universities. It is a module designed to support students to develop the skills needed to collaboratively tackle 21st Century global challenges through working with professionals to create pathways for innovative solutions to real-world issues associated with one or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Through Future17, students will collaborate with learners from the consortium of global partner universities in international, interdisciplinary and multicultural teams to tackle challenges through projects defined by SDG Challenge Partners (businesses, charities, NGOs and public sector organisations).
Future17 is about bringing students together from different cultural backgrounds and educational settings to collaborate on a challenge set by a SDG Challenge Partner, who they will work with to understand the problem, diagnose the issues, examine potential approaches through evidence-based study and propose & justify pathways for developing solutions.
Through Future17, students will collaborate with learners from the consortium of global partner universities in international, interdisciplinary and multicultural teams to tackle challenges through projects defined by SDG Challenge Partners (businesses, charities, NGOs or public sector organisations).
Students will first undertake an online induction program that will develop skills for collaborative, challenge-based and inter-cultural learning, which will promote forms of Design Thinking for tackling global challenges. They will then work with academic and SDG Challenge Partner mentors online to diagnose a sustainability challenge and develop an approach for developing one or more solutions.
They will be assessed on the basis of a group project output (a report or equivalent) and an online group presentation to an expert panel, including representatives of the SDG Challenge Partner which set the challenge, a representative of QS and academic staff from the partner universities.
Student teams will be drawn from at least two partner universities (partner universities are currently the University of Exeter, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and IE University in Spain) to work in groups of typically between 6 and 8 students.
Students will be supervised by at least one academic mentor from a partner university, with expertise in the challenge area. There will also be a mentor from the SDG Challenge Partner, whose role will be to outline the sustainability challenge, provide context (and potentially data) and act as an agent provocateur.
In the 2022-23 academic year, Future17 will run in two rounds:
Round 1: Autumn Term
Part 1 (induction): later September to mid-October 2022;
Part 2 (group collaboration): second half of October to second half of December 2022;
Part 3 (showcase): mid-December 2022.
Round 2: Spring and Summer Terms
During this round, the program commences part-way through Term 2 at Exeter, to allow students from southern hemisphere universities to participate:
Part 1 (induction): second half of February to second half of March 2023 (allowing students to study the induction program flexibly);
Part 2 (group collaboration): second half of March to second half of May 2023;
Part 3 (showcase): late May 2023.
The program has been curated to enable Exeter students to study and complete their assessments in time for these to be integrated into end-of-academic-year examination boards to enable progression or award.
Specific timings are yet to be confirmed and are subject to minor change.
Gain skills and experience
Partner universities will work with QS to encourage SDG Challenge Partners to shape a challenge related to one of the UN’s SDGs for student groups to work on and will provide mentor(s) for the students. You will be matched to a specific challenge project by the academic leads and mentors for the program, based on initial mapping by the QS system using SDG interests indicated by students and SDG alignment of projects.
SDG Challenge Partners
SDG Challenge Partners who are currently engaged in shaping projects include (as an indicative list):
- Foundation for Sustainable Development
- Hochwald Foods
- Government of Gibraltar
- Greeneum Network
- Morgan Stanley
- SDG Exchange Inc.
- United Nations Working Group on Climate Change & Environment
Examples of projects
SDG partner projects are designed to set challenging questions and deliver specific deliverables, for example:
Question: Millions of children and their families around the world live and work in slums, in dire poverty, with very little access to soap. How can Diversey help?
Deliverables: Legislation systems overview report covering such topics as: what are the existing frameworks and restrictions? What are the opportunities to establish local operations for NGOs? Will Diversey’s model be eligible to operate?
Ministry of Public Education Of the Republic of Uzbekistan:
Question: How can the Ministry of Education introduce Sustainable Development Goals across all universities, offering institutions clear guidelines on how to handle the process of embedding SDGs from A to Z? SDG’s need to become a part of the universities’ DNA, from curricular to infrastructure management.
Deliverables: Report that covers market research of existing practices globally and an analysis of how these could be relevant to Uzbekistan, based on a 5-year horizon. This will include a roadmap for implementation and a list of key stakeholders to engage.
UN PRME Working Group on Climate Change and Environment:
Question: How can we design frameworks and toolkits that will enable any academic or community member to confidently educate others on the importance of SDG 13? This project will also show how SDG 13 influences all the other Goals and is a catalyst for creating jobs of the future.
Deliverables: Report highlighting the importance of SDG 13 and its influence across all other SDGs, and a guidebook for enthusiasts to introduce SDG 13 to their relevant audience (Academia, Community, Corporate, etc). The outputs will also include a forecast of how SDG 13 will drive jobs creation/market.
Future17 aims to develop the collaborative, intercultural and innovative skills sets required for tackling global interdisciplinary challenges in the 21st Century. Specifically, using the UN’s SDGs as an over-arching framework, the module aims to:
- Promote skills for Design Thinking as a way of mobilising creative, visual, inter-personal, iterative and multi-configurational approaches to problem solving;
- Enable you to appreciate the importance of interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange and learning for tackling sustainable development challenges;
- Develop your critical thinking skills to question conventional assumptions about sustainable development challenges through Design Thinking approaches;
- Develop employability skills by providing a space for you to work intensively with academic and SDG Challenge Partner mentors on a sustainable development challenge of mutual interest;
- Enable you 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 your awareness of and interest in applying academic knowledge to sustainable development challenges in a professional setting;
- Provide you with an opportunity to generate non-academic impact for tackling sustainable development challenges.
Future17 is about developing skills for international, inter-cultural collaboration for sustainable development and is a problem-focused program that encourages independent group-working. Accordingly, the syllabus is built around three discrete elements:
Part 1: Program induction and skills for tackling sustainability challenges
This will comprise a series of online, flexibly available asynchronous learning activities to enable individual students to learn independently about the principles of Design Thinking that underpin the module, including collaborative learning, team working, working with external organizations and inter-cultural exchange. The induction program will also examine key elements of professional working and liaising with a client organization.
This induction program will be available via the Future Learn online platform (similar to ELE) for you to use ‘anytime, anywhere’.
In advance of the induction program, you will be assigned to a team to work with other students and an academic and SDG Challenge Partner mentor(s) to work on a specific challenge in parts 2 and 3 of the module. You will be encouraged to make contact with your fellow group members via back channels (such as University e-mail or official social media) and you will also be able to informally meet your academic mentor online.
Part 2: Group collaboration
In this part of the program you will learn about your sustainability challenge and work as a team of students to design ways to diagnose the problem in collaboration with academic and SDG Challenge Partner mentors, and to develop approaches for delivering solutions. This is the main part of the program and will comprise group work with students from partner universities, supported by their mentors.
You will collaborate in a range of ways, including synchronous online meetings as a team, synchronous online meetings as teams with your academic and/or SDG Challenge Partner mentors, and asynchronous teamwork using collaborative documents and online platforms. Student teams will be expected to meet weekly, with fortnightly structured support from mentors.
The collaboration software used for this phase will be MS Teams, enabling group discussions, meetings and sharing of collaborative documents. However, teams will also have the flexibility to use other platforms as they prefer.
Part 3: Future17 Solutions Showcase event
You will attend an online showcase event(s), where each group of students working on a sustainability challenge will undertake an assessed presentation of their project for 25 minutes, plus time for questions and feedback. This will provide an opportunity to celebrate your work and that of other teams, and provide a further space for collaborative learning.
The written group assessment will also be submitted in this period.
Future17 is a program accredited by QS in the form of a certificate and students will therefore be studying the program externally but via support from Exeter colleagues, in particular the Academic Lead Professor Stewart Barr and their allocated academic mentor.
On successful completion of the program, Exeter students should be able to claim 15 credits at RCQ level 6, available for students to use as credit towards their degree award via Accredited Prior Experiential Leaning (APEL). This will be subject to an individual student’s available option module credit and their program rules. You can contact us to discuss your eligibility for the program.
Assessment will be both formative and summative:
Formative assessment will be in the form of group presentations of project progress, and feedback will be provided verbally by the project mentors.
Summative assessment will be in the form of:
- A 25-minute group presentation to the academic mentor(s), SDG Challenge Partner mentor(s) and QS representatives.
- A group written output, such as a report or other artefact (determined by the requirements of the SDG Challenge Partner).
For both summative assessments, bespoke marking criteria will be published in advance of the assessment and marks will be agreed and documented between the academic mentor(s) and SDG Challenge Partner mentor(s). These will then be approved by QS. Students will receive written feedback to justify the marks awarded and provide criterion-based feedback.
Marks will use a notched set of criteria that use a 1-to-100-point system, with a pass mark (mean) of 40.
Assessment will be based on two group assessments and the program will develop and publish a specific group working policy that lays out the expectations for group working and provisions to document individual student input and any support that may be required if a student’s input falls below the required standard.
We anticipate that the group written output will, as standard, be run through Turnitin to check for plagiarism and academic misconduct.
Eligibility and how to apply
Future17 is available to undergraduate students (except first years) and postgraduate taught students on all campuses and is a fully online module.
Applying for Future17 as an optional, 15-credit module
To take Future17 as a credit-bearing module, we will ask you in the application which of your current optional modules you would like to replace it with. If you are offered a place on Future17, we will adjust your module choice.
On successful completion of the module, you should be able to gain academic credit for your participation and to use it as part of your degree program via Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) for 15 credits at RCQ level 6. This will be subject to available optional credit at this level and programme rules.
Please contact us if you are in any doubt about your eligibility to apply and obtain credit from the program.
Applying for Future17 as a non-credit-bearing module
You can also apply for the program on a non-credit basis (for example, if you do not have sufficient optional credits available). You will receive a certificate from QS on successful completion of the module.
Please note that you should consider the academic workload implications of undertaking this additional work. Advice can be sought from the Academic Lead for Exeter, Professor Stewart Barr.
We will open applications for Future17 in May and the closing date will be 17:00 BST on 17 June 2022. Places are limited and will be allocated on a competitive basis.
Application and selection process
The process for advertising, recruitment and selection is as follows:
1. Attend an optional Q&A session online to find out more and ask questions about Future17. These will be held on MS Teams and you can access these at the following times in May and June by clicking on the below links:
2. Check your programme rules for eligibility and that you have sufficient optional credits available (the Future17 program is 15 credits at RCQ level 6). You can contact the Academic Lead (Professor Stewart Barr) or Project Manager (Re Oakley) to discuss this. You can also speak to your programme director.
3. You make an application online from May, with a deadline of 17:00 on 17 June 2022 using this MS Form.
4. A selection process will select students to be part of the program (we will let you know the outcome by late June 2022):
- If selected, we will work with the Hub Teams to register students onto Future17 over the summer and we will ask you at the application stage which 15 credit module you would like to drop so that we can arrange this for you.
5. Students selected will then submit their details to QS via an online form to be allocated to an SDG project.
What we ask for in your application
The University of Exeter will follow a recruitment and selection process that will ask for the following elements in an application:
- Student name and number.
- Academic program.
- List of modules undertaken so far.
- Ranking of available SDG goals of interest (up to three - to match to a challenge).
- Statements on (150 words each):
(a) How the program will contribute to your academic program and skills development;
(b) How the program will contribute to developing your employability skills;
(c) Why you are passionate about your top-ranked sustainability challenge;
(d) What positive contributions you argue you can bring to a collaborative project to tackle a sustainability challenge.
The selection will be in accordance with the University of Exeter's policies on equality, diversity and inclusion.
You can read the full module descriptor here.
Attend an optional Q&A session online to find out more and ask questions about Future17. These will be held on MS Teams and you can access these at the following times in May and June by clicking on the below links: