New Grants for Advancing Sustainable Development Goals Spur Collaboration On Campus and Beyond

Carrie Waterman with Margaret Akuma at moringa farm
Grant recipient Carrie Waterman, an assistant researcher of nutrition at UC Davis, and Margaret Akuma, a moringa farmer from Northern Uganda, inspecting and discussing Akuma’s moringa trees and garden—as part of a USAID farmer to farmer project run through Catholic Relief Services—including pest management strategies for improved cultivation of valuable crops for income generation and food security. Courtesy of Carrie Waterman/UC Davis.

By Bonnie Shea, director of communications, Global Affairs

In fall 2019, UC Davis Global Affairs announced Grants for Advancing Sustainable Development Goals, team-focused grants of up to $7,500 to fund locally-executed and internationally-oriented, multi-disciplinary programs that enhance UC Davis’ connections to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

A set of broad yet ambitious goals that address the universal need for sustainable development, the SDGs were adopted by all UN member states in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.The 17 goals—such as ending hunger, ensuring clean water, and combating climate change—provide a common global framework to achieve sustainable development across economic, social and environmental dimensions.

On campus and around the world, UC Davis faculty, students, and staff are addressing all 17 SDGs in various teaching, research, and service activities. The inaugural Grants for Advancing SDGs support work already underway and spark new partnerships. The five selected projects contribute towards 14 of the SDGs—locally and globally—bringing together more than 12 UC Davis colleges, schools, and units, and more than 10 external partners.

Forming Interprofessional Teams to Advance Health and Well-Being in California and Kenya

From the Betty Irene Moore School of NursingLaura Van Auker, an assistant clinical professor, Gerald Kayingo, an associate clinical professor, and Debra Bakerjian, a clinical professor, are using their grant to advance SDGs including Good Health and Well-Being (Goal 3) and Quality Education (Goal 4) through a partnership with the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Van Auker, Kayingo, and Bakerjian are focusing on developing interprofessional health teams to improve access and quality care, particularly for immigrant and refugee communities. They are engaging UC Davis faculty and students from the nurse practitioner and physician assistant programs in the School of Nursing, UC Davis Health clinicians, interprofessional health care teams, students, and faculty from the University of Nairobi, and health care organizations in Nairobi. Their project will develop a curriculum that prepares UC Davis and University of Nairobi students and faculty to provide culturally sensitive care, model interprofessional education and team-based health care, and ultimately, advance good health and wellbeing in communities in California and in Kenya.

Medical Simulation Facilitator, SPLICE Interprofessional Program with School of Medicine and School of Nursing Physician Assistant and Family Nurse Practitioner, 2019 
Grant recipient Laura Van Auker (center), an assistant clinical professor in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, as a Medical Simulation Facilitator as a part of the SPLICE Interprofessional Program with School of Medicine and School of Nursing students. Courtesy of Laura Van Auker/UC Davis.

Managing Water Resources in a Water-Limited World

Nicholas Pinter, a professor of earth and planetary sciences and associate director for the Center for Watershed Sciences in the College of Letters and ScienceKatrina Jessoe, an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, are using their grant to advance several SDGs including Quality Education (Goal 4), Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7), and, Climate Action (Goal 13) by expanding capacity for water management for institutions, businesses, and in academia.

The interdisciplinary team is collaborating with the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education—the largest graduate water education facility in the world, based in the Netherlands—to develop a summer school on “Sustainable Water Management in a Water-Limited World.” The first session will be held in the Netherlands in July of 2020 with plans to host an expanded summer school in Davis in 2021 and the potential to implement ongoing joint courses, workshops, and summer schools in the future. Since the health of the world's waters require global and interdisciplinary collaboration, the program aims to attract graduate students from around the world and across disciplines.

Engaging Students in Latin America and the U.S. to Preserve Natural Resources

John Goldberg, a lecturer in the Graduate School of Management, and Edward Spang, an assistant professor of food science and technology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, are using their grant to advance several SDGs including No Poverty (Goal 1), Zero Hunger (Goal 2), Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7), Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11), Climate Action (Goal 13), Life Below Water (Goal 14), and Life On Land (Goal 15).

Goldberg and Spang are partnering with faculty members at Universidad Tecnológico de Costa Rica to develop joint courses and international exchange related to eco-friendly innovation in materials technology and management—with the goals of reducing methane emissions by converting organic waste products into renewable biogas and valuable soil amendments. Their project will enable student teams in designing and implementing biogas systems, working with a farm near Davis and a farm in a community by Turrialba Volcano National Park in Costa Rica. Beyond reducing emissions and serving communities, the proposal shows the potential for biogas systems to support sustainable communities by producing local sources of energy, improving soil quality, and strengthening the local economy.

Teaming Up On Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Cities in Tunisia 

Kurt Kornbluth, an associate adjunct professor of biological and agricultural engineering and director of the Program for International Energy Technologies and D-Lab in the College of Engineering, Ben Finkelor, executive director of the Energy Efficiency Institute, and Josh Morejohn, energy manager in Facilities Management, are collaborating with colleagues at the Institut des Regions Arides in Medenine, Tunisia to advance SDGs including Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11).

The project also engages 2017-18 UC Davis Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program Fellow Bouajila Essifi, a research assistant at the Institut des Regions Arides—as well as several partners at the Technopole du Sud of Medenine, the Higher Institute of Technological Studies of Medenine, the Higher Institute of Applied Biology of Medenine, and the Sectoral Training Center in Metallic Construction of Medenineto work toward achieving energy efficiency, developing sustainable energy solutions, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the campus in Medenine, Tunisia.

The timing is particularly important as the energy landscape in Tunisia experiences an uninterrupted increase in energy demand and a decrease in national resources, leading to major strategic and socio-economic challenges. In addition to developing energy solutions, the project will create project-based opportunities for students, faculty, and staff, and develop a roadmap for further collaborations between UC Davis and the Institut des Regions Arides.

Advancing the SDGs, Entrepreneurship, and Connections Between UC Davis and the African Leadership University

Carrie Waterman, an assistant researcher of nutrition in the College of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesAndrew Hargadon, a professor of technology management in the Graduate School of Management, and Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, are teaming up to advance several SDGs including No Poverty (Goal 1), Zero Hunger (Goal 2), Good Health and Well-Being (Goal 3), Quality Education (Goal 4), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Goal 9), Reduced Inequalities (Goal 10), Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12), Climate Action (Goal 13), Life Below Water (Goal 14), Life On Land (Goal 15),and Partnerships (Goal 17). 

This interdisciplinary team is aiming to expand the partnership between UC Davis and African Leadership University, sparked by a previous Global Affairs Seed Grant. It combines UC Davis expertise, particularly related to food security and nutrition-sensitive agriculture, with entrepreneurial expertise and perspectives from the African Leadership University in Kigali, Rwanda, a university that educates students from more than 40 countries and has degree programs such as global challenges, entrepreneurship, and international business. Expanding this partnership will entail providing further trainings related to SDGs and African entrepreneurship, including a workshop in Rwanda. The project will also develop more faculty and student collaboration from UC Davis—including engaging African and African American students and identifying potential funding opportunities and connections in Africa.


About Global Affairs at UC Davis

Global Affairs brings the world to UC Davis, welcoming more than 10,000 international students, scholars and leaders, and hosting programs that inspire global curiosity, understanding and engagement. Compelled by the valuable outcomes of thinking globally, we make transformative opportunities a reality by supporting the thousands of students and faculty learning and researching globally—and by facilitating collaborations that tackle the world’s most pressing challenges through more than 150 global partnerships.

Putting our vision of a UC Davis community that engages, thrives, and leads in this interconnected world into action, Global Affairs is in pursuit of an ambitious goal: Global Education for All.

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