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Global Education

Seven Ways the SDGs are Important in a Classroom

The Sustainable Development Goals – also known as SDGs – are designed to bring people together to improve life around the world. Created by the United Nations, they are a set of common goals to help us overcome global challenges like poverty, inequality, climate change, and more. They seek to harmonize three core components for the future: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection.

SDGs have a huge part to play in today’s classrooms. As a blueprint for making the world a better place, these goals can help engage students and inform lesson plans. Let’s take a look at the top 7 reasons why educators should make use of the SDGs in their classrooms.

1. They’re good for the planet

Let’s start with an obvious one. The SDGs have been specifically created to draw attention to some of the biggest environmental challenges in the world today. Sanitation, sustainability, pollution, and climate action are all addressed.

SDGs are about more than awareness, though. They also break down each goal into a set of achievable sub-targets. Tackling a subject like climate change is a massive challenge, but the SDGs show smaller ways to contribute towards climate action for the good of the planet.

Educators can use these sub-targets to show their students the ways in which they can make an impact on improving the world that they live in.

2. They’re good for humanity

The SDGs aren’t just about environmental factors. They also deal with serious, life-affecting human issues such as poverty, inequality, economic growth, peace, and justice.

Students will get a greater knowledge of challenges faced not only in their own lives but also in the lives of others all around the world. These SDGs highlight the structures behind our society – economic, legal, and political – and their complexities. They shed light on difficulties that students may not be aware of, or even take for granted.

3. They teach empathy to students

One of the key benefits of learning about the SDGs is that it opens students’ minds to different communities and experiences outside of their own. In turn, this breeds empathy in the classroom.

Empathy and curiosity are at the heart of global leadership. They give students an awareness of the wider world, and its values and identities. This helps the development of students into more well-rounded citizens of the world, and shows them the ways in which they can make a difference in the future.

4. They give lesson plans a new perspective

As the SDGs are so wide-reaching, they can be used to provide new perspectives and real-world context to lesson plans.

For example, geography and science lessons can be enriched by discussing climate change subjects such as the causes and effects of the increase in average global temperature, or how climate change is creating natural disasters like tsunamis and tropical cyclones. Biology lessons could examine not only the cellular study of viruses and diseases but also the societal factors that allow them to thrive, such as inadequate access to medication and education.

The SDGs are an ideal filter through which to expand and enrich your lesson plans. Boost classroom engagement by demonstrating the real-world impact of the subjects your students are learning.

5. They are a valuable educational resource

It shouldn’t be overlooked just how much research and information is packed into each of the SDGs. The United Nations has sourced and compiled vital information about each goal in one place.

From extensive facts and figures to the individual targets that make up each goal, the SDGs are useful classroom resources that adds depth and context to lesson plans. They also contain links to further reading from sources such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and more.

6. They give focus to classroom discussion

The SDGs are not just a series of abstract ideals. The goals themselves are SMART, with clear time-limited targets that make up each SDG.

Many of these targets fall within the next couple of years, with some of the larger-scale challenges set for 2030. This helps educators to see not only which parts of the goal are most pressing, but also what can be achieved even in a limited time frame.

As the SDGs show, even making a small change can have a big impact on the world. By ensuring that the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, they can be used to give focus to classroom discussion.

7. They align with the curriculum

It’s worth emphasizing that the SDGs are closely aligned with today’s curriculum. They broach a remarkable range of traditional academic subjects such as geography, biology, social sciences, politics, economics, and more.

Educators should see the SDGs as an opportunity to add extra depth to their lesson plans, rather than being something that requires work to link to the curriculum.


At Participate Learning, we place a lot of emphasis on the importance of nurturing global leadership in the classroom, and the SDGs form the backbone of that. We hope that this post has reinforced the value of these goals, and the role that they can – and should – play in enriching lesson plans, teaching the curriculum, and showing the students of today that they have a role to play in the world of the future.

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