Sustainable Development Goals & IUPUI

What are the SDGs?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the cornerstone of IUPUIs campus internationalization efforts. Our goal is to create interdisciplinary and solution-oriented opportunities for developing curriculum, partnerships, and research focused on the 2030 agenda for global change.

The SDGs are a universal call-to-action to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of humankind, and it is only by working cooperatively that we can make any headway. Already IUPUI has Gold Star status as a sustainable campus, and we have a considerable number of research projects that are geared to specific SDGs: the AMPATH medical program in Kenya, our Lugar Center for Renewable Energy, the IAHI Environmental Justice seminar series, and more. By working in close cooperation with our international partners, the potential impact of our current efforts will be increased immeasurably. 

Times Higher Education Impact Ranking

The 2021 THE Impact Ranking is the first time that IUPUI participated in the rankings, reporting on four SDGs: 3, 10, 16, and 17. The Impact Ranking measures universities' progress in addressing the 17 SDGs. The Office of Sustainability submitted the report in October 2020, and on Earth Day 2021, April 22, 2021, the rankings were released.

THE Impact Ranking Results

Overall, IUPUI ranks #2 in the U.S. in delivering on the SDGs, and #28 in the world. As stated on the THE website, "The 2021 Impact Rankings is the third edition and the overall ranking includes 1,115 universities from 94 countries/regions." Over 70 universities in the United States participated

See the full THE Impact Rankings


Official Press Release: "IUPUI ranks 2nd in US, 28th in world in Impact Rankings 2021 for sustainability"

Read the article: "From the Desk: Why the Sustainable Development Goals matter to IUPUI"

Acheiving the Goals

Though we are proud of the progress IUPUI has made, we still have a lot of work to do. Here's our basic plan for how to continue engaging IUPUI in the SDGs.

Create, Translate, Survey, Foster, Highlight, Initiate

  • Create

    Create an IUPUI SDG network and advisory board from across dicipines.

    This network is growing, and you can join by signing up for the mailing list. The SDG Advisory board made up of senior leadership, campus sustainability champions, and students.

  • Translate

    Translate the work of researchers into the language of sustainable development.

    The reality is that people are working on the SDGs across IUPUI, and have been for years. Part of our work at OIA is identifying who is actively engaging in SDG work without knowing it and incorporating their research into the SDG framework. Until all of IUPUI defaults to defining their research by the SDGs this work will be ongoing.

    As a part of the plan to educate faculty and staff on the SDGs, OIA presented an overview of the SDGs in the context of higher education.

    Click below for a brief overview PDF used in these presentations that highlights how Higher Ed institutions play an important role in SDG implementaion.

    OIA sdg powerpoint first slide

  • Survey

    Survey IUPUI Faculty and Staff on SDG projects and interests, including all courses and study abroad.

    In order to develop a framework for the SDG-relevant activities and interests across campus, in Summer 2020 OIA conducted a campus-wide survey. The results were illuminating. While only a small percentage of respondents had a working knowledge of the SDGs, a solid majority—over 50%—were working in areas specifically linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Translating the work of IUPUI researchers into the language of the SDGs is a major priority.

    The survey was conducted from July-September, 2020, with 95 respondents.

    Survey Results
    Donut chart split into three parts: 50%, 28%, 22%

    50% of respondents were Not at all familiar;

    28% "moderately familiar" and

    only 22% were "very familiar" with the SDGs

    Perhaps the most interesting result was the answer to the first question: How familiar are you with the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals? Half of respondents answered "not at all familiar," 28% "moderately familiar," with only 22% saying they were very familiar.

    Despite this, 53.9% had engaged with the SDGs as a part of their course content in the past year.

    The top 5 SDGs that survey respondents engage in are:

    SDGs 4, 3, 10, 11, and 16

    Respondents thought that areas where SDGs are most valuable in:

    • 25% Teaching & Curriculum
    • 17.1%Research
    • 17.1% Community Engagement
    • 13.4%Service Learning
    • 10.6% Partnerships
    • 8.9%Co-Curriculum & Programming
    • 7.7%Grants

    Based on these results, we were able to plan and educate the IUPUI community.

  • Foster

    Foster new research and projects in sustainability

    In addition to identifying existing SDG partnerships, OIA plans on leveraging our partnership networks in alignment with SDG 17 to increase partnerships for the goals, between and within nations.

    A part of fostering new research projects included the 2021 IUPUI Global Research Incubator Grants.

    The goal of this grant competition is to provide a limited number of high-potential awards that propose interdisciplinary mechanisms to tackle issues that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    The IUPUI Office of International Affairs and the IUPUI Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research created a new grant mechanism in 2020 to support interdisciplinary research agendas that contribute to advancing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This program is open to full-time tenure-track/tenured faculty from all IUPUI schools and departments. Grant proposals must address two or more of the Sustainable Development Goals and ideally involve two or more IUPUI faculty from different departments or schools. To align with IUPUI’s dedication to community engagement, research that involves collaborations with local or international communities and partners are encouraged. Additional priority will be given to research proposals that address the SDGs through lenses of social justice and intercultural competence.

    The IUPUI Global Research Incubator Grants will position IUPUI faculty to contribute to profound global challenges of the 21st century and ultimately make them more competitive for external funding of their proposed research. Recipients will thus be expected to write an external grant proposal of significance within 1-2 years

  • Highlight

    Highlight best practices through regular international forums

    In addition to highlighting exemplary projects that already exist, we are also commited to creating new opportunties to expand expertise, like the ongoing SDG Global Conversations.

  • Initiate

    Initiate an awareness campaign for students on the importance of SDGs as the cornerstone for global learning

    Even the hyperlocal is globally connected, and a part of expaning SDGs involves including our most important constituents: students. Their passion, interest, and energy for change can be channeled through the SDGs into action that moves us all closer to the better future the UN 2030 Agenda imagines.

View the SDGs in Action

To dive into the details of how IUPUI is engaging with the SDGs across campus, view the SDGs in Action page

SDGs in Action at IUPUI

Visit for a full campus view

Enter the all-IU SDG poster competition

Learn more about upcoming opportunties


View previous SDG Global Conversations

To learn more about events, speakers, and to connect with others at IUPUI, join the SDG Mailing List. This list brings together faculty, students and staff at IUPUI and IUPUI partners to explore the potential for collaboration on the UN Sustainable Development goals. This open forum provides participants an opportunity for sharing ideas, information, funding opportunities and other posts concerned with the SDGs. Membership is open to all interested faculty, students, staff and IUPUI partners.