First-Ever UC Davis Millennium Fellows Creating More Awareness of UN Goals on Campus

Group photo of Millennium Fellows
UC Davis UN Millennium Fellows (L-R: Maria Arteaga, Aruna Henna Battan, Nehal Jain, Romae-Anne Geneston Aquino, Ranjot "Rina" Singh, Kavya Gayatri, Achyutuni, Esra Hawsawi, Amritpal Kaur, Liz McAllister, Xinyi (Renee) Hu, Iman Alani, Tiffany Pearl Trinh, Binwant Kaur, and Alina Kajley (on screen), with Nancy Erbstein (right), faculty member and director of Global Education for All.

In April 2017, United Nations Academic Impactin partnership with Millennium Campus Networklaunched the Millennium Fellowshipa selective undergraduate leadership development program that engages students in creating more awareness of and action upon the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at universities worldwide. Thanks to UC Davis’ selection as one of 30 campuses across the world to support Millennium Fellows through the 2018–19 academic year, 14 student leaders are gaining leadership and training opportunities and direct experience in advancing the SDGsa collection of 17 goals that address global challengeson campus. 

In alignment with the SDGs and UC Davis’ Global Education for All initiative—a Big Idea to provide 100% of students with global learning opportunities before graduation—the work of the Millennium Fellowship team in making the SDGs more visible on campus ultimately helped develop an inaugural Campus Global Theme: Food for Thought: Feeding Ourselves, Feeding the Planet. The goal of this biennial program is to identify a topic inspired by one or more SDGs and engage the entire UC Davis community through activities, events, discussions and endless other opportunities that emphasize the related global and cross-disciplinary dimensions. In the process, the multifaceted work of UC Davis’ people and programs are highlighted.

“Being selected as a Millennium Fellow is a fantastic achievement in and of itself,” said Joanna Regulska, vice provost and associate chancellor of Global Affairs. “These 14 student leaders have taken this opportunity and have done a phenomenal job in helping develop our first Campus Global Theme. They will continue to play a central role in getting students involved from across campus as we launch the program this winter.”

Nehal Jain, a managerial economics and design double major in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciencesand Ranjot "Rina" Singh, a triple-major in international relations, economics and Italian in the College of Letters and Scienceeach play a leadership role for the project at UC Davis as fellowship co-directors.

For Singh, the Millennium Fellowship has given her the opportunity to really consider international leadership, which she connects back to her Italian nationality and Indian heritage. Her experiences as an immigrant and woman of color led her to become deeply committed to social justice, and ultimately serving as chair of ASUCD's Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, which is responsible for overseeing ethnic and race relations on campus.

“Being able to reconnect with my international background has been really wonderful,” Singh said. “I believe that encouraging global citizenship through education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all students should be a priority.”

Singh sees the research, planning and outreach of the fellows bringing more awareness of the SDGs on campus and creating more opportunities for global learning for students in the years to come—and perhaps even advancing her own career in international humanitarian work. 

“The leadership I’m gaining through the Millennium Fellowship is crucial to the type of work I want to do after I graduate,” Singh said.

Jain, an international student from India, sees the work of the fellows as helping to expand awareness at the campus level of linguistic and departmental diversity, social responsibility, and more understanding of the differences that arise within collaborative relationships at the global level.

“There’s no one way to educate or achieve a unified system owing to our diversity,” Jain said. “But we still need to recognize our global differences and understand why they exist.”

Millennium Fellows at group meeting
UC Davis UN Millennium Fellows during one of their weekly meetings.

As the first theme, Food for Thought: Feeding Ourselves, Feeding the Planet, launches this winter, mini-grants for students, faculty and staff across the Davis and Sacramento campuses will spur many forms of programming and spark discussions across disciplines and perspectives.

“We want to people to really think about food—for instance the politics related to food insecurity or the interdisciplinary research focusing on climate change and food,” said Singh.

In addition to the Millennium Fellows, the steering committee of Global Education for All made up of student, faculty and staff representatives from the colleges, schools, and various campus units, has been instrumental in the Campus Global Theme’s development.

“Global Education for All aims to get students involved in global learning not only through coursework and experiential learning, but also through living and leading on campus and in our region,” said Nancy Erbstein, faculty member and director of Global Education for All. 

“The Campus Global Theme program is an exciting way to promote mutual learning and action, tapping the insights, energy, expertise and creativity of UC Davis academics, students, staff members, and collaborators. Both the Steering Committee and the Millennium Fellows saw power in considering ‘Feeding Ourselves and Feeding the Planet’ from across the multiple perspectives offered by the sciences, social sciences and humanities,” said Erbstein.

A Campus Global Theme planning committee is being formed, bringing together some members of both the UN Millennium Fellows and the Global Education for All Steering Committee, and additional representation from faculty, students, and staff across campus. A call for proposals for program funding will be announced in winter 2019, while programming is set to begin in winter 2020 to last through spring 2021. UC Davis community members interested in getting involved are invited to email globaleducationforall@ucdavis.edu.

2018 UC Davis UN Millennium Fellows

  • Kavya Gayatri Achyutuni, College of Biological Sciences
  • Jamila Alani, College of Letters and Science
  • Romae-Anne Geneston Aquino, College of Letters and Science
  • Maria Arteaga, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Aruna "Henna" Battan, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Esra Hawsawi, College of Engineering
  • Xinyi "Renee" Hu, College of Letters and Science
  • Nehal Jain, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Binwant Kaur Kahlon, College of Letters and Science
  • Alina Kajley, College of Biological Sciences
  • Amritpal Kaur, College of Letters and Science
  • Liz McAllister, College of Letters and Science
  • Ranjot "Rina" Singh, College of Letters and Science
  • Tiffany Pearl Trinh, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

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 studying and researching internationally-and by facilitating collaborations that tackle the world's most pressing problems through more than 150 international partnerships.

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

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