The World Association for Sustainable Development (WASD) is very pleased to welcome to its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Universities Initiative (SDGsUni). SDGsUni aims to bring together universities and research institutions from across the world in a global forum to collaborate and reconnect with the discourse of SD. SDGsUni will therefore help universities and research institutions to play a critical role as recommended by the World Bank’s World Development Report 2016 enabling their countries reap the benefits form the global growth in the knowledge economy particularly for the country’s Digital Natives (Youth).
SDGsUni aims to critically examine a number of issues relating to the role and relevance of universities and research institutions to the contemporary discourse of countries’ sustainable inclusive knowledge-based development such as the role of universities in supporting and enhancing the process of economic and social development in their country; identify all major obstacles that universities face in their countries including any governments components and most importantly how can these obstacles best be overcome; and what is the new role(s) of universities in the post Covid-19 era.
Whilst there has been a tremendous growth in size, the expansion of higher education (HE) in all parts of the world, serious evaluation must be undertaken of the quality of teaching, research and development (R&D) and how universities are meeting the emergent development needs. What is evident in most DCs is a stupendous replication of traditional disciplinary-based techniques of knowledge production. These have, nevertheless, increased the richness of knowledge about the universe we live in but without apparently translating or transforming the catchment societal environments in terms of measurable productive capacities.
There are also grave concerns that HE in most countries is becoming increasingly obsolete which, in part, is why development programmes are stultified even from the outset. There are also serious issues regarding the under-performance in research – state of academic research is less-than-satisfactory in almost all universities in DCs. Therefore, universities, particularly in DCs, must confront the ‘new realities’ evident in the environments in which they operate. Many scholars and policy makers have called for a transformative innovation agenda which embraces radical change for new synthesis and approaches for transforming universities’ role in achieving the SDGs in their countries.
SDGsUni also aims to improve the research within universities to help achieve Agenda 2030 and SDGs by addressing the significant demand for evidence-based research across the world. SDGsUni is therefore aims to provide practical recommendations and actions to help transform the way universities conduct and use research to achieve the SDGs, and the way universities access and benefit from the global data freely available for use by leading international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, etc.