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US universities work towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

June 11, 2020
By: Connor LaVelle

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings has measured 768 universities around the world against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Combining research and activity metrics, the 2020 rankings place institutions from New Zealand and Australia in the top four spots, with U.S. universities holding 14 places within the top 200. In addition to overall performance, the report also ranks institutions within each of the 17 SDGs.

The Times Higher Education’s research metrics are based primarily on data from Elsevier, examining publications within a 5-year timespan between 2014 and 2018. Metrics measuring a university’s policies and initiatives require the institution “to provide the evidence to support their claims.” Times Higher Education notes that “in these cases, we give credit for the evidence and for the evidence being public.”

The United Nations’ SDGs, originally introduced in 2015, consist of 17 objectives that together form a roadmap towards a more sustainable future. Arizona State University, the top ranked U.S. institution, received an overall rating of 96.3 with its greatest success found in working towards goals of elimination of poverty, sustainable use of water resources, protection of the surrounding environment, and strengthening partnerships towards achieving the SDGs. Among other American universities ranked were University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill (22), Penn State (35), and 11 institutions ranked between 100-200, American University, University at Buffalo, Florida International University, University of Georgia, University of Maryland- Baltimore County, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, University of South Florida, Stony Brook University, and Texas State University.

2020 marks the second consecutive year that Times Higher Education has measured universities against the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. The rankings list for both 2019 and 2020, as well as the Times Higher Education’s own analysis is available on their website

higher ed