SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals
The University is committed to partnership work across its research, teaching and community engagement work locally, nationally and internationally. These partnerships are developed through Memorandums of Understanding, shared curricula, joint research projects and community engagement collaborations (including business support and sustainable development). This partnership approach is embodied as part of our status as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, one of only 50 worldwide and the only HEI with such status in the UK. Our collaborative approaches have also led to us being awarded the Social Enterprise Mark Gold Award and supporting our local third sector to become designated a Social Enterprise Place.
The University engages in these partnerships at a local level (local third sector, government and business), nationally (informing government policy and evaluating programmes), and internationally (partnerships with HEIs and NGOs globally, particularly in Europe, Asia and Africa); supporting partners with their research, teaching and knowledge exchange needs, as well as in social impact measurement relevant to the SDGs. We are also committed to the UK’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda and the University is an official partner of the Social Mobility Pledge.
The University’s relationships with government and NGOs is embodied in our origins as a Civic University, with Northampton being a signatory to the Civic University Agreement. This focus on our place in society is also part of our Ashoka Changemaker approach, in which we zero in on how we can best create social value in our communities. The University utilises its internationally leading research and networks to leverage impact through policy formulation and creation. In the UK this has been achieved at a national level through work to support: information gathering on Far-Right extremists, that has supported policy Police training and legal challenges nationally; HM Treasury in their State Aid Negotiations with the EU (SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure); informing Irish government policy and school provision for the education of pupils with Special Educational Needs (SDG4: Quality Education); the Cabinet Office in their work on outcomes based commissioning and the design of the Government Outcomes Lab (SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing); and assessing the social impact of UK Cadet Forces (SDG10: Reduced Inequalities).
Internationally, the University has also supported partners, particularly in Asia, to inform national and global policy relevant to the SDGs. This has included work in Vietnam with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to create a supportive ecosystem for social businesses (SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities); research for the British Council into supporting social innovation in Higher Education in East Asia (SDG4: Quality Education); and strengthening civic and business relationships between the UK and China (SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure).
The University is committed to pushing the SDG 2030 agenda across its networks, and using its partnerships and resources to drive impact towards SDG goals. This is embodied at the top of the organisation, with the Vice Chancellor Nick Petford’s personal commitment to the SDGs. Indeed, in recent years the VC has attended and spoken at numerous international events on behalf of the University and its partners. These engagements include: the Blockchain for Humanity Summit at Fordham University in partnership with Ashoka (SDG1: No Poverty) and the Blockchain Educational Passport for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon in partnership with the United Nations (SDG10: Reduced Inequalities); supporting Higher Education partners in post-conflict countries in partnership with the British Council and universities in Iraq (SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions); developing the social economy in Korea in partnership with the British Council and the Korean Social Enterprise Promotion Agency (SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure); leading discussions on global leadership and sustainability at the Inbush Conference with Amity University, India (SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production); contributing to the 20th Conference Commonwealth of Education Ministers in Fiji, focused on climate change in the Pacific region and globally in partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (SDG13: Climate Action); and supporting the Ethiopian Leather Industry in partnership with Pittards UK, the UK’s Department for Trade and Industry and the University of Addis Ababa (SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth).
At a local level we also seek to push cross-sectoral dialogue and deliver change in relation to the SDGs. The University has developed this through its Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) submission to Research England centred on ‘Local Growth and Regeneration’, which includes local collaborations including: Digital Northampton, an initiative between the University, Northamptonshire County Council and local digital businesses to support the digital economy and upskill people (SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure); our support for Northampton Social Enterprise Town, which seeks to enable the growth of social impact businesses in the town and increase trade between the private, public and third sectors (SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities); and our work on Educating Northants, a collaboration between teachers and students to provide education and training across the county (SDG4: Quality Education). When building these local partnerships our consideration is always around how the impact created can align with the SDG framework; indeed, the University will be seeking to develop a local SDG working group in 2021, consisting of local government, business leaders, charities and social innovators, to deliver increased collaborative social value in the region moving forwards.
These types of global partnerships and international, collaborative support work is also a feature throughout the University. Examples of this include the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact (ISII) publishing work in partnership with National Economics University and the United Nations Development Programme titled ‘Fostering the Growth of the Social Impact Business Sector in Vietnam’ (SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) that focused on the role of the SDGs in supporting social business development in the country and was presented at a UNDP conference in Hanoi. Further, the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies and the ISII has also presented research to the OECD on health and safety in tannery supply-chains (SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production) as part of their Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear sector.
The University is committed to supporting the growth of SDG relevant impact frameworks for data gathering and measurement globally, working with Kings College London, the University of Chicago and the University of Melbourne on their report ‘Advancing University Engagement: University Engagement and Global League Tables’ as a lead HEI in their pilot data gathering process (one of 21 HEIs globally to be invited). This report highlighted relevant approaches for the university sector to improve its impact engagement work in line with the SDGs (and specifically the Times Higher Education Impact), with the University’s key work around supporting its local social enterprise community being highlighted as best practice (SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities). Within this, the University performed within the top 25% of HEIs for strategic commitment to sustainability and impact.
From an environmental standpoint, the University is also internationally leading, with partnerships aimed at increasing sustainability, biodiversity and reducing pollution. The University’s Estates and Campus Services team being key to our work on the Sustainability Leadership Scorecard (SDG13: Climate Action); whilst our Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology has led pioneering work around pollination (Safeguarding Pollination Services in a Changing World) (SDG15: Life on Land), as well as cultural/environmental heritage through the Nenescape project (SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities). This international collaborative work provides a snapshot of the SDG focused work that our researchers and professional services staff engage in globally around environmental sustainability.
The University has also supported several other global events and projects aimed at drawing attention to the need to gather data and report against the SDGs. The Faculty of Health, Education and Society has created partnerships across Eastern Europe to support the education of parents with autistic children (SDG10: Reduced Inequalities); whilst the University’s Faculty of Business and Law has also committed to the UN’s Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) that seek to realise the SDGs internationally.
The University views its internationally leading research as a key driver of change in the world, by allowing for knowledge transfer, best practice and the creation of new knowledge to spread globally and support sustainable development. The Centre for Education and Research has explored the extent, characteristics and provision for children with disabilities in Bhutan in partnership with UNICEF (Bhutan) and the Ministry of Education of Bhutan. Their joint survey titled ‘Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice Survey on Children with Disabilities in Bhutan’ provides a data-set and commentary to provide trustworthy evidence about knowledge, attitudes and practices among the Bhutanese population concerning children with disabilities. Crucially, the work is being used to inform policy and practice (children’s services workers) in supporting children with disabilities (SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing).
The University has also led and contributed to work delivered by the United Nations through their various agencies, including: United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime; UNICEF; UNESCO; and the UNDP. Senior staff at the University have contributed to the SDG agenda across these different areas, notably: Expert Member of the Education for Justice Panel (UNODC) (SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions); research into UNICEF work in the Caribbean centred on the Rights of Children (SDG10: Reduced Inequalities); and contributing to research and a conference led by the UNDP around supporting social businesses in Vietnam (SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities). This research provides a sample of the work that we do to support the United Nations and its SDG agenda to deliver impact and change globally.
The Institute for Social Innovation and Impact contributed a chapter on Transformative Outcomes: The Use of Social Impact Measurement to the ‘Encyclopaedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals’, identifying how impact measurement can be used to further the SDG agenda and promote best practice (SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). Research by the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies with the Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (COTANCE) and European Commission, utilised ICLT’s internationally renowned expertise and reputation to better understand the Health and Safety (H&S) and sustainability risks along the leather value chain and how they are managed in tanneries. This research was reported to the European Commission to inform policy development and dialogue in this area as part of their Social Dialogue programme (SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production).
The University runs an active student volunteering programme that is built around it’s Ashoka Changemaker Certificate programme. This has led to 92,935 student volunteering hours in support of society over the last three years, whilst over 400 health students supported the UK National Health Service through extended clinical placements during the Covid-19 pandemic (SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing). Our students and staff also deliver impact aligned with the SDGs across the world, including in: Bosnia, Cambodia, Canada, India, Italy, Malawi, and Uganda, (see our Global Impact page for further information). All of this work is supported by the University’s Student Union, which has established a Sustainability Policy that recently led to it being awarded an Excellent Green Impact Award at the National Union of Students Awards, the top award nationally for student sustainability work.
The University also has numerous research partnerships established with NGOs locally, nationally and globally to drive collaboration around the SDGs, with Memorandums of Understanding underpinning these. Locally, these MOUs have been established with (SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing): Northampton Country Cricket Club; Northamptonshire Football Association; Northampton Swimming Club; Northamptonshire Sport; and Northampton Swimming Club. The University has also locally support the Social Enterprise Town consortia of NGOs in Northampton in its work to build a vibrant and sustainable social enterprise ecosystem in the town (SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities). We also support through our Faculty of Health, Education and Society a variety of initiatives including: a partnership with Northampton General Hospital to provide an MSc on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement that was given an Outstanding Practice Rating by the Care Quality Commission (SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing). A partnership has also been formed with Oxford University Hospitals delivering 6 PgCerts to upskill staff and improve patient outcomes (SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing).
Globally, the University’s role as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, one of only 50 across the world, identifies its commitment to social innovation and sustainable development through the partnership with Ashoka, a globally leading NGO in this area. Our commitment in this area has also been shown globally through partnerships that we have established with leading education providers and NGOs to provide internationally leading educational provision. An exemplar project here is delivered by our Faculty of Health, Education and Society’s work with the Dublin Counselling and Therapy Centre in Ireland to provide degree programmes to trainee counsellors (SDG3: Good Health and Wellbeing); as well as their work in Sri Lanka to also provide degrees and training in partnership with Colombo Institute of Research & Psychology (CIRP). In addition, we have also established partnerships and MOUs with Universities across Asia, including: National Economics University Hanoi; Sungkyunkwan University, Korea; and Almaty University in Kazakhstan (SDG4: Quality Education).
Finally, the University is also committed to the development of educational resources to support the SDG agenda. These educational resources are often established in partnership with NGOs, again formalised through MOUs. An example of this is an Erasmus+ partnership with Collegium Civitas in Poland, titled ‘Building the culture of social innovation in higher education’, which led to the creation of ‘Massive Online Educational Resources’ (MOOC) focused on social innovation to be used in Eastern Europe to drive engagement with social innovation in higher education (SDG4: Quality Education). The University is also supporting Ashoka Poland with its Journey to Changemaker Certificate Programme (J2CC), that seeks to promote social innovation-based research, teaching and community impact in universities across Europe (SDG4: Quality Education). The University’s commitment to utilising its partnerships globally with other HEIs and NGOs means that it continues to drive sustainable change in the world towards the SDG 2030 framework.