A baseline assessment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Student: Thomas Haines
Status: Completed
Dissertation: A baseline assessment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Dissertation category: Education
Dissertation theme:
Short summary: An evaluation of Student Unions across the European Region and their engagement with the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Assessment was carried out for 39 European Student Unions using a web mining process that sought key words and phrases on European Student Union public web domains.
Detailed summary: Dissertation (pdf) Abstract The world of student unions is under-researched, particularly relating to global issues and challenges, despite them holding a large proportion of the workforce of the future. At present, the European Students Union (ESU) has a duty of care to students within Europe, representing approximately 15 million students. Despite this, it is unclear if national student union policy and information reflects the range of global legislative efforts - which highlight student influence - in relation to economic, environmental and social aspects. This paper aims to address the disparity between these areas, with a specific focus on the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - in partnership with the UK National Union of Students, under the Dissertations for Good Programme. An innovative web mining method was created and refined over a 10-week data collection period, utilised on national European Student Union public web domains, against a pre-determined selection of keywords/phrases to quantify the overall knowledge and understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals, on a country by country basis. The UK National Union of Students was utilised as a control during this study, as a level standard across all nations analysed. Having successfully analysed 39 European Student Unions with data from January 2014-18 with 17 key terms. This resulted in a wide range of keyword abundance, knowledge depth and breadth across member nations. 89% of all key term sites were located within the UK & Switzerland unions, creating 86% of all key terms found in totality – highlighting possible disparity against developments in European education and knowledge standards such as the Bologna Process. To conclude, this research has highlighted both the lack of visual representation of the Sustainable Development Goals to students and therefore the variation in education quality across nations, allowing for a potential inequality of sustainability skillsets required by graduates on a global scale to tackle the world’s challenges.
University: University of the West of England
Course: BSc (Hons) Environmental Science
Partnered with: NUS