Achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals

Brian Woodall
Brian Woodall

How would you define this Big Idea?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty and hunger, improve health and education, make cities more sustainable, promote innovation, combat climate change, protect oceans and forests, and foster technological innovation.  Because of the interconnectedness of these goals, it will require the sort of multidisciplinary approach for which Georgia Tech is noted to achieve the targets they set.  In other words, this is a critically important space in which Georgia Tech can -- and should -- play an important role.

How is this Big Idea included in your work?

I have created the Japan Summer Program in Sustainable Development -- a Georgia Tech / Tokyo Tech collaborative study abroad program -- that brings together expertise from engineering, sciences, and the social sciences and humanities to address broad issues of sustainable development with a particular focus on the challenges of sustainable urbanization in large cities as well as rural towns. Today, more than half of humankind lives in cities; yet, within the next two decades, urban centers will become home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population.  Cities are magnets that draw talented and creative people into a vast array of jobs, and serve as engines of economic growth and incubators of innovation that power the global economy.  Yet cities come in various shapes and sizes, and it is essential to appreciate the symbiotic linkages between that connect urban communities and rural communities.  Because of the growing importance of cities, it is essential to appreciate the socio-cultural, ecological, and economic factors that must interact to ensure their sustainability.  The Japan Summer Program offers four rigorous courses taught during ten weeks of residence at Tokyo Tech.  Its capstone service learning experience will bring Georgia Tech students together with Tokyo Tech students in multidisciplinary, cross-cultural teams tasked with devising solutions to real-world sustainability and community development problems.

Learn more:

Link to Japan Summer Program in Sustainable Development website:

Link to UN's Sustainable Development Goals: