Three volunteers put perishable groceries away in large refrigerators at The Pantry. One volunteer on the left of the photos is in the middle of turning to the fridge behind him with a box containing citrus. The volunteer in the middle wearing an ASUCD The Pantry T-shirt is sorting apples. A volunteer on the right has turned their attention to the milk and dairy in another refrigerator.
Students are addressing the UN SDGs in a number of ways, many of them, without realizing that their actions have a great impact on local and global challenges. Volunteers at The Pantry contribute to improving food security for those struggling to put food on the table. Visit to learn more.

Students Make an Impact for the Global Good, on Campus and Locally 

Many students at UC Davis are not familiar with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, more commonly known as the SDGs or 2030 Agenda. Yet the SDGs are the result of one of the most consequential global commitments to occur in the last decade on challenges that have a profound impact on lives, communities and the planet.   

What are the “SDGs” 

The SDGs are a set of goals focused on addressing complex issues, including poverty, inequality, climate change, economic growth, improved health and education and peaceful institution-building. These goals are also called the 2030 Agenda because they are meant to be achieved by 2030. In 2015, UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda to create a shared partnership to tackle global challenges.   

UN Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs are broad in scope, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people. The principles of "No One Left Behind," human rights and gender equality serve as foundational pillars of the SDG agenda, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their background, are empowered to access opportunities, enjoy fundamental rights, and contribute to sustainable development on an equitable basis. The 17 SDGs and 169 targets included in this agenda seek to mobilize all countries to take concrete steps to achieve sustainable development across economic, social and environmental dimensions. 

Global Goals on Campus 

UC Davis Global Affairs released a Voluntary University Review (VUR) in late 2021, documenting campus SDG-related research, teaching, service and operations. UC Davis was one of the first universities in the United States to complete a VUR.  

Quarterly SDG Internship Qualifications

  • Current UC Davis undergraduate student
  • Demonstrated interest in the 2030 Agenda and one or more SDGs
  • Strong research, writing, and communication skills. 
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to put together information and present it clearly.

Learn more about the internship

Every quarter, Global Affairs offers an SDG internship that enables UC Davis students to actively contribute to campus engagement on the SDGs through various projects, including outreach activities with the campus and local community. During the spring and summer of 2022, Global Affairs SDG interns decided it would be useful to follow up the VUR with a student-focused guide on the SDGs that specifically spoke to the student community about the goals and offered resources for deeper involvement.  

In the winter 2023 quarter, the SDG interns finalized the student guide on the SDGs. The guide has proven useful in spreading the word on the SDGs across the UC Davis campus. It gives background on the SDGs and includes items that cater to student interests, including survey results on student awareness/interest in the SDGs, a list of classes that include SDG content, a list of clubs and volunteer/internship opportunities related to the SDGs, advice on how students can contribute to the SDGs through everyday actions, and spotlights on-campus organizations that are already implementing the SDGs in their work. 

Five students sit around cafe tables outside of a restaurant. They have drinks and food in baskets in front of them.
(Left to right) 2022-23 SDG Interns Simone Nelson, Peijie (Jerry) Dai, Santiago Garcia Martin, Alfonso Larumbe Fernández and Nadiyah Helal worked together to help spread awareness about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals among their student peers. (Photo courtesy of Simone Nelson)

Building off growing student interest in the SDGs, Global Affairs also offers a one-credit course during the second summer session, “Becoming a Global Collaborator: Innovative and Inclusive Ways to Address Global Challenges.” The course provides background on the SDGs in the context of other international agreements and commitments, allowing students to connect their courses of study with global challenges and solutions, consider how many different societal challenges are interconnected, and explore ways to make a difference in their careers, communities and personal lives. Students are also challenged to consider strategies for turning global awareness into global and local action. 

Using Tech Innovations to Connect the Global Goals with Local and California Needs  

There are numerous ways that students can get involved in promoting and advancing the SDGs. One example is Hack Davis, the largest collegiate hackathon in California, where over 800 students, creators and leaders come together for 24 hours to create for social good.  

In spring 2023, UC Davis Global Affairs sponsored the category “Best Hack for Local-Global Good,” which challenged student teams to design an application that supports involvement with the SDGs and the development of creative approaches to the SDG global challenges at the campus or local level. Forty-one student teams submitted projects for this category, making it the most popular sponsored category. The winner for the Local-Global Good category was CySafe, a hardware device powered by machine learning that increased bicycle safety, and is connected to SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being and SDG 11: Sustainable Cities

To learn more about UC Davis's engagement with the SDGs

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