JCU Delegation Participates in Student Leader Global Summit
A delegation of five JCU students participated in the Student Leader Global Summit organized by the International Association of Students Affairs and Services (IASAS) and the European University College Association (EUCA) held in Rome from July 13 to 15, 2023.
The students were key players in the conference dedicated to the topic “Universities as Agents of Change.” The summit brought together experts and students from all over the world to discuss topics such as student governance, leadership, climate action, and social justice, among others. A key feature of the event was the three-day workshop of 40 international student leaders who used a systems mapping approach to simulate the implementation of specific UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in different communities.
“Complex systems in a community can be simplified by focusing on one or more leverage points. By doing this, an entire system can be changed, and complex problems can be solved. This is especially useful to narrow down the problem of implementing SDGs to improve a specific community,” said JCU student Carlos Santander.
Students Natalie Sanders, Fayette Herndon, and Tiberia Di Maggio shared Carlos’ enthusiasm for the experience. Natalie said that “the conference gave me the awareness that, as students, we are influencers at our universities and can act as agents of change.” This was echoed by Fayette, who added “our voices, ideas, and commitment to a better future were heard through feasible projects seeking to make progress on the UN SDGs.” “I felt the power of students coming together and really understood that you have to be the change you want to see and that you can take small steps, but you have to start now to make change happen.” explained Tiberia.
The students started working with experts on sustainability and SDGs in May 2023. They were assigned to groups to discuss various SDG topics, ranging from clean water and sanitation to responsible consumption and production. The projects assigned to each team stimulated critical thinking, research, communication, and the creation of system maps, among other activities.
During the three days of the conference, the students focused on finalizing their projects. 40 students from all over the globe gathered to present their projects, aiming to leverage systems for sustainable development. Specifically, they focused on eight goals:
- Good health and well-being
- Clean water and sanitation
- Quality education
- Reduced inequalities
- Peace, justice, and strong institutions
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Zero hunger
All projects included a detailed analysis of the key stakeholders involved in their sustainable initiatives, such as providing equal access to education for all, advocating for responsible consumption of materials like clothing, or creating sustainable hydroponics projects to address the zero hunger goal.
JCU alumnus Giacomo Di Capua, a conference organizer and promoter who has recently been nominated UN Youth Delegate for Italy, presented a paper with best practices of universities acting as agents of change in supporting the SDGs. Among these was John Cabot’s project Triggering Change.
Pilar Murguia, Director of Students Services at JCU, presented the project “Bridge Connecting Worlds” to support and connect young refugees across Europe, specifically Germany and Italy. “The role of Student Affairs professionals in universities is vital to bring about these changes. We need to work alongside our students to assist them in developing projects that will empower them to shape their future,” commented Murguia.