UGC 2020 Virtual Gathering Session Information

Keynotes and Opening Plenary (9-9:50 a.m. ET)

Block A Sessions (10-10:45 a.m. ET)

Block B Sessions (10:45-11:30 a.m. ET) 

Block C Sessions (11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET)

Closing Plenary (12:30 p.m.-1:00 p.m. ET)

Keynote Speaker: Amina J. Mohammed

UN Deputy Secretary-General

Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG)

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group. 

Portrait of Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment. 

Ms. Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning. She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.   

Ms. Mohammed began her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria. She served as an advocate focused on increasing access to education and other social services, before moving into the public sector, where she rose to the position of adviser to three successive Presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development. 

Ms. Mohammed has been conferred several honorary doctorates and has served as an adjunct professor, lecturing on international development. The recipient of various global awards, Ms Mohammed has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels. She is the mother of six children and has two grandchildren. 

Keynote Speaker: Nikhil Seth

UN Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director, UNITAR

Mr. Nikhil Seth was appointed as UN Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research in 2015. Prior to this, Nikhil Seth was the Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) at the UN Secretariat in New York.

During his career with the United Nations since 1993, Mr. Seth has served as Special Assistant and Chief of Office to the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (Sept 1993 – Jun 2001), Chief of the Policy Coordination Branch in the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (Jun 2001 – Jan 2003), as Secretary of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Second Committee of the General Assembly (Feb 2003 – Aug 2006), and as Director of the DESA Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (Aug 2006 – Aug 2011), where he guided the ECOSOC’s work in implementing several new key mandates, including its Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum.

Before joining the UN Secretariat, he was a delegate to the UN in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (Sep 1990 – Sep 1993) and involved with various UN conferences and summits including the Rio Summit on Environment and Development and the climate change related process. He joined the Indian diplomatic service in 1980 and his diplomatic assignments included Geneva, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Before joining the Indian diplomatic service, he worked as a Lecturer in Economics in St. Stephen College, Delhi University for 2 years (Aug 1977 – Sep 1979).

Mr. Nikhil Seth holds a Masters degree in Economics from Delhi University.

Plenary Speaker: Sarah Mendelson

Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy and Head of Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University

Portrait of Sarah Mendelson

Ambassador Sarah Mendelson is Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and Head of CMU’s Heinz College in Washington DC. She served as US Representative to the UN ECOSOC from October 2015 to January 2017 leading on development, human rights, and humanitarian affairs. At USAID from 2010-2014, she led on democracy, rights, and governance. Mendelson’s current work centers on the next generation that will deliver the Sustainable Development Goals – Cohort 2030. At CMU, she co-chairs the University’s Sustainability Initiative. The author of over 70 publications, she graduated from Yale University and received her PhD from Columbia University.

Exploring the SDGs and Empowering Communities through Virtual Projects: Nigeria and Tanzania 

With the move to online instruction and disruption to travel-based courses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, students are turning to technology-supported global experiences. At the same time, NGOs around the world are struggling to support our most vulnerable populations, seeking new partnerships and growth possibilities. Through the University at Buffalo Experiential Learning Network (ELN), we are connecting these two areas of opportunity- global experiences and NGO partnerships, through mentored virtual projects. Students engage in our Project Portal at their own pace at no additional cost, eliminating traditional barriers to access and encouraging students from all areas of study and background to participate in high-impact projects. Presenters will highlight five student projects completed during summer 2020, featuring engagement with PriHEMAC, a Nigerian-based NGO focusing on health care and elderly friendliness, and Hope Revival Children’s Organization (HRCO), a Tanzanian nonprofit focusing on women’s empowerment and community development.

Moderated by:  Jan McCauley, Assistant Director of the State University of New York’s Center for Collaborative Online Learning


Gideon Adeniyi, Program Officer, PriHEMAC 

Gideon Adeniyi is an academic, youth leader, public health practitioner, and sustainable development enthusiast, experienced in the design and implementation of public health programs while catalyzing multisector collaboration in achieving optimum health and non-health outcomes among vulnerable groups such as children, mothers, and elderly in underserved communities. He currently serves as the program officer of Primary Health Care and Health Management Centre (PriHEMAC), international advisory board member at CT University, and a part time lecturer at the Academy of Medical and Health Education. He believes that a just, healthier, and developed society is possible with global solidarity and strong leadership. 

Mara B. Huber, PhD, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning, Director of Experiential Learning Network University at Buffalo 

Dr. Huber serves as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning and Director of the Experiential Learning Network at the University at Buffalo, connecting students with partners from all over the world via high-impact projects. Signature initiatives include the ELN Project Portal and associated Digital Badge series, the PEARL engagement framework, and the Global Partner Studio. Mara leads an annual study abroad trip to Mara, Tanzania, now offered as a virtual experience connecting students with NGO partners for collaborative projects. Mara is a frequent writer, speaker, consultant, and mentor and hosts a blog site at

Stephen Marwa, Executive Director, Hope Revival Children’s Organization 

Stephen Marwa serves as Executive Director of Hope Revival Children’s Organization (HRCO) in Musoma, Tanzania. As a dedicated advocate for women’s empowerment and community advocacy, Stephen has emerged as a liaison for collaborative endeavors featuring regional and international partners. Current projects include a multi-faceted water and sanitation initiative utilizing asset-based community development (ABCD), a reusable sanitary pad project, a Community Bicycle Lab, tailoring and batik projects, and agricultural innovation. With expertise in technology, social entrepreneurship, and higher education engagement, Stephen is working to build capacity within and beyond the Mara region, supporting the promise of asset-based development and collaboration.


Building A Regional Network of Universities across Borders under COVID-19

The new reality under COVID-19, including closed international borders, has created unprecedented challenges and opportunities for our just established university-lead collaborative network for international, interdisciplinary research, teaching, and outreach activities on sustainability and resilience. The Organizing Urban-rural Transects for a Sustainable Transformation of Economic PartnershipS (OUTSTEPS) network, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation in the US, holistically evaluates the assets, opportunities, and barriers to creating a trans-border connected urban and rural region that has the high potential to become an equitable climate refuge at a global scale in the coming decades. The OUTSTEPS approach leverages the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the seven dimensions of the PEOPLES Resilience Framework, an Integrated Quantitative Measure and Modeling of Sustainable Development and Disaster Risk Reduction that was introduced by the Global Assessment Report (GAR) of United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in 2015. The three panelists, who represent three of the eight founding universities, will share their experiences, challenges, and solutions to overcome boundaries and build bridges to establish OUTSTEPS.

Moderated by:  Francois Grey, Professor, University of Geneva


Susan Clark, Director of the Sustainability Initiative & Assistant Professor, Department of Environment and Sustainability, University at Buffalo – The State University of New York (SUNY)

Dr. Clark specializes in research on climate vulnerability and adaptation, especially related to community resilience and the impacts of extreme events on people’s well-being. Dr. Clark received her PhD in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Her dissertation work focused on sustainable development and global climate change policy. She also worked with the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment where she designed a novel experiential approach to sustainability ethics education using experiential games. She also holds a BS in Atmospheric Science and an MS in Earth System Science.

Susan (Sue) E. Powers, Spence Professor in Sustainable Environmental Systems & Director, Institute for a Sustainable Environment, Clarkson University

Dr. Powers’ education and scholarly work are integrated through research on aspects of sustainability, engineering, and STEM education. She has promoted the value of utilizing relevant, project-based experiences to improve solid waste, energy, and climate change literacy of middle/high school and college students. She utilizes project-based learning experiences to promote sustainability for students on campus and in the community. The goal in all of these projects is to provide real-world, messy, and open-ended projects to students to enhance their education both in technical aspects as well as team work, communication, and integrating sustainability as a critical project criterion.

Richard (Ross) Shaker, Principal Investigator, S3 (Spatial & Sustainability Sciences) Lab & Associate Professor of Environmental and Urban Sustainability, Ryerson University

Dr. Shaker is Associate Professor at Ryerson University and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Academy of Sciences of Moldova studying sustainable urbanization and landscape function. His main scientific investigation is in the realm of human-landscape coevolution and global ecology. His S3 Lab is actively investigating the interactions between natural and social systems for sustainable development, ecosystem management, global change resilience, and environmental planning purposes. His future applied research looks at operationalizing sustainable development across spatial and temporal scales, while theoretically focusing at the nexus of evolutionary theory, learning and behavior change, planning and policy responses.

Business for a Better World Center

Housed in the School of Business but harnessing resources from across the university, our vision at Business for a Better World is that business will be a force for good in the world, leading the charge to address the world’s complex challenges. Ongoing inequalities in access to basic human rights like education, healthcare, and employment have been exacerbated by COVID-19. In this presentation, we will address how the Center drives curriculum change, develops student programming, fosters research collaborations across sectors, and forges partnerships to effect change. We will share particularly timely examples, including: our Impact Fellows program that provides a 2-year wrap-around experience focused on the SDGs for incoming first-year students from groups traditionally underrepresented in business, including students of color, first-generation students, students with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ students; our Honey Bee Initiative focused on global goals around food security, gender equity, and reduced inequalities; and our partnership with MAP Clinics (an initiative of the College of Health and Human Services to provide free medical care to refugee and immigrant populations) to facilitate the return to work of a low-wage Latinx community ravaged by COVID-19.

Moderated by: Afroditi Anastasaki, Office of the Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)


Lisa Gring-Pemble, Co-Executive Director, Business for a Better World Center Co-Founder and Director of Strategy, Honey Bee Initiative

Lisa Gring-Pemble, an associate professor at George Mason’s School of Business and co-founder of the Honey Bee Initiative, serves as one of the Executive Directors of the Business for a Better World Center. As the Director of Global Impact and Engagement, Gring-Pemble supports university-wide initiatives that engage students of all majors in social innovation and entrepreneurship. An award-winning professor, in the classroom Gring-Pemble has focused on global impact and engagement, publishing extensively on the role of language in promoting social change, and cultivating thoughtful, morally-conscious leaders in the classroom. She received her M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Maryland.

Anne Magro, Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Impact, School of Business and Co-Executive Director, Business for a Better World Center, George Mason University

Anne Magro, Associate Professor of Accounting, serves as Deputy Dean and Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Impact at George Mason University’s School of Business. Magro was an architect of the School’s distinctive liberal-arts Business Foundations curriculum and is passionate about ensuring the success of Mason’s diverse student body. In the classroom, she focuses on developing future business leaders skilled in teamwork, ethics, diversity and inclusion, and professional responsibility. Magro publishes in top journals on the impact of individual, task, and environmental factors on judgments and decisions and strives to use that knowledge to encourage behavior consistent with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.



SDGs Initiative at Tecnológico de Monterrey

The SDGs Initiative at Tecnológico de Monterrey was established in 2019, when Tec began working with government authorities, national and regional schools, researchers, teachers, and students on concrete solutions to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) in Mexico and around the world. The Initiative is aligned with the Institution’s 2030 Strategic Plan, based on supporting the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs at the local and national level. It aims to identify and promote the activities that Tec de Monterrey carries out in favor of sustainable development, while identifying new areas where the Institution can contribute with innovative projects and ideas for the implementation of the SDGs. The Initiative has five action areas, which are carried out in collaborative multi-sectorial alliances: Education, Research, Public policies, Public-private partnerships, and Co-coordination of SDSN Mexico with UNAM.

Moderated by: Mathew Thijssen, Sustainability Manager, University of Waterloo


Mariajulia Martínez Acosta, Associate Director of the SDGs Initiative, Tec de Monterrey

Mariajulia is currently Deputy Director of the SDG Initiative at Tec de Monterrey. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations (Tec de Monterrey) and Master’s degrees in Sustainable Development (Tec de Monterrey) and in Planning and Land Management (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid). She is a Specialist in environmental regulations, urban development, sustainable construction, and sustainability innovation. Mariajulia has taught university and high school classes on climate change and sustainable development at Tecnológico de Monterrey.

Karina M. Ruiz Aguilar, Coordinator of the SDGs Initiative, Tec de Monterrey

Karina is currently Coordinator of the SDG Initiative at Tec de Monterey, as well as Manager of SDSN Mexico on behalf of Tec de Monterrey. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations (Tec de Monterrey) and in 2012 was part of the CNS-Visiting Fellows Program at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at Monterey Institute of International Studies (California, USA). From 2009 to 2019 she worked at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations as Advisor to the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on topics such as sustainable development, human rights, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and climate change.

Miguel Ruiz Cabañas Izquierdo, Director of the SDGs Initiative, Tec de Monterrey

Miguel Ruíz-Cabañas holds a BA in International Relations (El Colegio de México) and a Master in Political Science (Columbia University). He is a Career Ambassador at the Mexican Foreign Service, which he joined in 1979, and was Representative of Mexico to the Organization of American States (OAS). Titles held include: (OAS) (2001-2004); Ambassador to Japan (2004-2011); Ambassador to Italy and Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Program (WFP) (2011-2015); and Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights from 2015 to 2018. Miguel Ruíz-Cabañas has been a professor of Mexican Foreign Policy and International Organizations at the Ibero-American University, ITAM, and Tec de Monterrey. Currently he is Director of the SDGs Initiative at Tec de Monterrey and Co-Chair of SDSN Mexico.


Multidimensional Poverty and its Relationship with Catastrophic Health Care Payments: Evidence from 8 Low-Middle Income Countries

Although the literature analyzing the relationship between income and consumption poverty and catastrophic health care payments is extensive, little is known about how these financial risks affect the levels of multidimensional poverty of people in different low- and middle-income countries. The current pandemic has further highlighted the importance of guaranteeing universal health care access to all individuals and the need for programs that reduce poverty, including income and multidimensional poverty. We will illustrate how multidimensional poverty and its determining factors change over time when a household faces a catastrophic health care payment and how these changes differ between countries and regions. We will focus on presenting two cases: Uganda and Mexico, countries with different levels of human, social, and economic development and health care systems, which represent good examples of the association between multidimensional poverty and catastrophic health care payments.

Moderated by:  Amy Porter, Professor, EARTH University


Mónica Pinilla-Roncancio, Assistant Professor, Universidad de los Andes

Monica Pinilla-Roncancio is a Physiotherapist with a Master’s degree in Economics from Universidad del Rosario. She holds a Master’s degree in Health Economics, Policy, and Law from Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, and a PhD in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, UK. From 2016 to 2018 she was as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Universidad de los Andes and currently is an Assistant Professor at the same university. She is the Co-director of Metrics and Policy at OPHI and has been working in OPHI since 2014. She coordinates the work in Latin America, East Asia, and some countries in Africa and Middle East. Her main research interests are disability, multidimensional poverty, inequality, and health economics.

Paul Rodríguez-Lesmes, Assistant Professor School of Economics, Universidad del Rosario

Paul Rodriguez Lesmes is an Assistant Professor at Universidad del Rosario (Bogotá, Colombia). He graduated from University College London. His expertise is in applied microeconomics with an emphasis on the economics of health using tools from programme evaluation, “natural” experiments, and structural models. His projects are in the areas of design of health systems, pharmaceuticals regulation, family economics, child development, water and sanitation, health-related behaviours, and infectious diseases. He has published in journals such as Economics and Human Biology and World Development, among others. He has worked for the World Bank, IDB, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

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Block B Sessions

African Entrepreneurship and Education for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

This panel will discuss our ongoing collaboration between University of California, Davis (UCD), and the African Leadership University (ALU) in Rwanda, which is harnessing and cross-transferring expertise in education, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development. Current students in our joint program are developing entrepreneurial projects focused on global challenges including poverty alleviation, food security, health, nutrition-sensitive agriculture, and IT. We will also discuss our Entrepreneurship/SDG Workshop, which has been redesigned into an online workshop to take place in Spring 2021. It will be developed with the intention to be used again in subsequent semesters, with the ability to adapt the curriculum and continue to build student and faculty input. Together students and faculty working in both institutions will have a better, more holistic understanding of some of the most relevant SDG challenges and potential solutions in various African countries.

Moderated by: Mary Lou Forward, Executive Director of the State University of New York’s Center for Collaborative Online Learning


Carrie Waterman, Assistant Professional Researcher, University of California, Davis

Dr. Carrie Waterman is an interdisciplinary research scientist at the intersection of nutrition, agriculture, health, and sustainable development. She received her PhD in Pharmacognosy and spent the following years as a post doc in understanding the use of plants for human benefit. She was a Fulbright scholar and professor at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. She currently has NIH Fogarty International K01 grant working with UC Davis and the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya. Her work focuses on the nutritional, health, and economic potential of moringa for underserved populations.

Gaidi Faraj, Dean of College, African Leadership University

Dr. Gaidi Faraj is the Dean of African Leadership University in Rwanda. He has been a pioneer in developing the Global Challenges program. He holds a Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies from University of California, Berkeley, a Masters in Teaching from Troy State University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College. Before ALU, Dr. Faraj was Vice President of Operations for a transatlantic investment firm in Tanzania. After several years with the firm, Dr. Faraj moved on to establish a business development consultancy that shared management expertise with businesses operating in or contemplating investment in Africa.


Tackling SDG10: Reducing Inequalities in Atlanta

Atlanta is singled out every year as having one of the largest wealth gaps in the U.S. This gap is racialized: as of 2017, almost 75% of residents living below the poverty line were Black. Large sustainable development efforts like the Atlanta BeltLine have been exacerbating these inequalities, well before COVID-19. Simultaneously, the region is the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, known as a black mecca, and boasts one of the highest concentrations of HEIs (higher educational institutions) in the U.S. – and the most HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). In 2017, Atlanta region HEIs banded together with a myriad of partners to launch the UN-affiliated network, RCE Greater Atlanta, promoting a systems approach to sustainable development without displacement. With HEIs as anchors, RCEs – Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development – support multistakeholder, regional SDG implementation through education and training as part of the Global RCE Network, which includes 174 RCEs worldwide. Presenters representing three very different HEIs; a UNITAR-affiliated center; and a community organization will share perspectives on the values that the RCE network brings to their work, especially around environmental justice. We will showcase a project: The UNITAR Youth and Sustainable Development Goals e-learning program, developed by students from nine HEIs.


Jennifer Hirsch, Director, Serve-Learn-Sustain, Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Jennifer Hirsch serves as the Director of Serve-Learn-Sustain at the Georgia Institute of Technology, educating students to “create sustainable communities” through multistakeholder collaborations. She is Adjunct Associate Professor in City and Regional Planning and co-founder of the sustainability network RCE Greater Atlanta, officially recognized by the United Nations University. Dr. Hirsch serves on the faculty of The Asset-Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University and on the Board of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. She received her Bachelor’s degree in American Culture from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University.

Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Assistant Professor, Environmental and Health Sciences, Spelman College

Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental & Health Sciences Program at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and Co-Founder of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, an environmental justice organization that works to grow a cleaner, greener, healthier, and more sustainable West Atlanta. Jelks uses community-based participatory research and other community-engaged approaches to investigate urban environmental health disparities and how place, race, and social factors influence health. In addition to her local community engagement and activism, Jelks serves on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) and is a former board member of the Citizen Science Association.

Lolade Owokoniran, Program Manager, CIFAL Atlanta (Kennesaw State University)

Head Shots DGA Division of Global Affairs

Lola Owokoniran has a background in international program management, business and professional development, public health education, and community empowerment. Her experiences include working at a local hospital to address health needs in Swaziland, managing over 14 Kennesaw State University education abroad programs, and bringing sustainable development solutions to remote regions through a global NGO headquartered in the surrounding regions of Washington D.C. She also serves as a Board Member for the non-profit organization, Comunidad Connect. Lola earned a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Global Studies from George Mason University and has a B.S. in Community Health.


Universities as Promoters and Facilitators of Multi-stakeholder Partnerships to Achieve the SDGs

SDG 17 (partnerships) and its targets emphasize the role of global and national actors, providing little guidance on how to promote partnerships at the local level. We argue that universities have a key role in addressing the SDGs: promoting and facilitating multi-stakeholder partnerships to foster the system-level transformations needed to achieve the goals. While this role has been generally recognized, it requires a new mindset as well as institutional and organizational changes within universities to be performed correctly and to nurture effective collaboration and collective action. To do so, a coherent framework is needed to guide universities’ efforts to build lasting alliances that spur transformational change. We will introduce a methodology developed by the Collaborative Innovation Lab (LINNCO) at Anahuac Mayab University to promote and facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships from the bottom-up. We will also present an ongoing project that seeks to transform the food system in Merida, Mexico, through a multi-stakeholder partnership leaded jointly by LINNCO and Merida’s Municipal Government.

Moderated by: Catalina González-Uribe, Director of International Affairs, Universidad de los Andes


Eugenia Correa Arce, Director, Sustainable Development Unit, Merida’s Municipal Government

Eugenia Correa Arce is the head of the Sustainable Development Unit at Merida’s Municipal Government. In that role, she is responsible for designing and implementing the environmental policies and programs in the city of Merida. She also leads the efforts to promote a culture of sustainability within the city government and to position Merida as a sustainable city with active involvement from its citizens. She holds a Master’s degree in Conservation and Natural Resources Management from the Barcelona University in Spain and a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management from Universidad Marista in Merida.

Emilio Martínez de Velasco Aguirre, Director, Collaborative Innovation Lab, Anahuac Mayab University

Emilio Martínez de Velasco Aguirre is the Founding Director of the Collaborative Innovation Lab (LINNCO) at Anahuac Mayab University. Prior to that, from 2014 to 2018, he worked as Regional Director of Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology. In that role, he operated a program in the 5 states of the southeast region of Mexico aimed at addressing the most pressing social and economic challenges through science, technology, and innovation projects. He holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, where he specialized in innovation policies and regional economic development.


Surfing the Waves of Educational Transformation in the 21st Century

The new century has brought three different phases of educational technology that have impacted the quality and reach of technology-enhanced education. Starting with asynchronous education technology, such as OpenCourseware) and the Khan Academy (2000s), transitioning to a plesiochronous timing model as in many MOOCs (2010s), and today, culminating in a wave of synchronous education with numerous cloud-based tools available to increase interaction in online classes (video-conferencing tools, shared whiteboards, shared documents, polling…). This wave, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to have a profound impact on the whole decade. Join us as we discuss how these waves have removed several barriers in education: space, time, and access, contributing to the improvement of quality in education and better training citizens for the skills required by the labor market.

Moderated by: Ahmet Aydemir, Assistant Professor at Bahçeşehir University and Director, CIFAL Istanbul, UNITAR


Carlos Alario-Hoyos, Professor, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Carlos Alario-Hoyos is Deputy Vice President for Strategy and Digital Education and Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Telematics Engineering at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. He received M.S. and PhD degrees in Information and Communication Technologies from the Universidad of Valladolid, Spain, in 2007 and 2012, respectively. His skills and experience include research and development in MOOCs, social networks, collaborative learning, and evaluation of learning experiences.

Carlos Delgado Kloos, Professor, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Carlos Delgado-Kloos received PhD degrees in Computer Science from the Technische Universitat Munchen and in Telecommunications Engineering from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. He is full professor of Telematics Engineering at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, where he is also the director of the GAST research group, director of the UNESCO Chair on Scalable Digital Education for All, and Vice President for Strategy and Digital Education. He is the Coordinator of the eMadrid research network on Educational Technology in the Region of Madrid. He is the Spanish representative at IFIP TC3 on Education.


Prepanet: An Online High School Program for Students, by Students (en Español)

Según el Banco Mundial, México es la undécima economía mundial. Sin embargo, en 2018, el 48,8 por ciento de la población vivía por debajo de la línea de pobreza monetaria. Muchas personas no tienen acceso a la educación secundaria debido a desventajas económicas, sociales o geográficas. La visión del Tec de Monterrey para el 2030 se compromete a desarrollar valores éticos y de liderazgo consciente en los estudiantes, promoviendo estar al servicio de los demás y reequilibrando la brecha económica del país. Como parte de este esfuerzo, el Tec de Monterrey estableció Prepanet, una escuela secundaria en línea para brindar una educación accesible y flexible a las personas jóvenes y adultas de bajos ingresos en todo México. El alcance de Prepanet es posible dado a que sus costos de funcionamiento son inferiores al 5% del sistema tradicional de escuelas secundarias Tec; está dirigido principalmente por estudiantes del Tec que actúan como tutores. Por tanto, Prepanet es un proyecto social que crea oportunidades para mexicanos social y económicamente desfavorecidos a través de la comunidad del Tec de Monterrey y puede servir como ejemplo para empoderar a los estudiantes para educar a las generaciones futuras.

According to the World Bank, Mexico is the 11th world largest economy. Nonetheless, in 2018, 48.8 percent of the population was living below the monetary poverty line. Many individuals do not have access to a high school education due to economic, social, or geographic disadvantages. Tec de Monterrey’s 2030 vision commits to developing ethics and conscious leadership values within students by promoting being of service to others and rebalancing the economic gap in the country. As part of this effort, Tec de Monterrey established Prepanet, an online high school, to give accessible and flexible education to young and adult low-income individuals across Mexico. Prepanet’s reach is possible since its operating costs are less than 5% of the traditional Tec high school system; it is run mainly by Tec students serving as tutors. Thus, Prepanet is a social project that creates opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged Mexicans through Tec de Monterrey’s community and can serve as an example for empowering students to educate future generations.

Moderated by: Mildred Linkimer, Professor, EARTH University


Pablo Ayala Enriquez, Director of Ethics and Citizenship, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Pablo Ayala is a PHD in Ethics and Democracy, from the University of Valencia, Spain. He currently holds the position of Director of Ethics and Citizenship at Tecnológico de Monterrey. In addition to being a member of academic and editorial councils in several civil society organizations that promote applied ethics, he is an editorialist in two newspapers in Mexico, teaches ethics classes at Tecnológico de Monterrey, and has been a visiting professor at the universities of Ibagué, Colombia; ESAN, Peru; Tarapacá, Chile; and Torcuati di Tella, Argentina.

María del Carmen Pámanes Fernández, Prepanet National Director, Tecnológico de Monterrey

María del Carmen Pámanes Fernández is a professional with extensive academic experience in face-to-face and online teaching, both at Tecnológico de Monterrey and at University TecMilenio. She obtained a degree at Tecnológico de Monterrey in engineering in computer systems (1986), a Master’s degree in computer science (1992), and is currently working on her Master’s degree in education. She is the founder of Tec’s internet careers website and TecMilenio University Campus Online. She is a responsible and inspiring leader, who is passionate about education and focused on goals and proactivity.

Teresita González Valdepeña, Pedagogist, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Teresita González Valdepeña is an expert in educational leadership, online education, training, and training and development of teachers and teams. She is an academic designer for adult education and youth. She is Certified in Fundamentals of Positive Psychology and Positive Organizations.


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Block C Sessions

Juntos por la Salud

It is in moments of crisis that gaps in governance become visible and negative effects permeate the population. For Mexico, the recent COVID-19 crisis made evident the need for a coordinated emergency response. Leaders at Tec de Monterrey, private sector FEMSA and BBVA, and Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs joined efforts as Juntos por la Salud (JPS) and identified an opportunity to facilitate the coordination of emergency response from the public and private sectors at a national and local level. Their objective: to address the COVID-19 health, economic, and social crises through effective communication channels and distribution networks. This session details how JPS established an innovative organizational structure that can work hand-in-hand with the public sector to address governance gaps with innovative solutions that help millions of people; the strategy developed here can be used in future efforts at improving resilience and governance issues to improve critical areas of attention for human security in Mexico and potentially, around the world.

Moderated by:  Amanda Wendt, Professor, EARTH University


Alejandro Poiré, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Government, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Since September 2016, Alejandro has served as the Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Government at Tecnológico de Monterrey, where he also served as Dean of the School of Government and Public Transformation (2013 – 2016). He has a PhD degree in Political Science from Harvard University. He has lectured at universities in Mexico, the United States, Europe, and Latin America and published articles and books on topics related to democracy and prosperity. In the public service sector, he held different positions including Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of the National Security Council, and Spokesman of the Security Strategy, during President Calderón’s administration.

Inés Sáenz, VP of Inclusion, Social Impact, and Sustainability, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Inés Sáenz is VP of Inclusion, Social Impact, and Sustainability at Tecnológico de Monterrey. She was former Dean of the School of Humanities and Education in the same institution. As Dean, she had overall responsibility for the School’s and academic undergraduate and graduate programs and research projects. She has worked at Tecnológico de Monterrey for 25 years. As part of the Office of the Provost, she developed the main curricular area of Humanities and Citizenship and was director of the Ph.D. Program in Humanistic Studies. She earned an M.A. and a PhD. in Hispanic Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.


University Global Engagement, Sustainability, and Inclusion – What is the Connection?

Typically, the global engagement, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability dimensions of universities have been very separate. The SDG Agenda provides a framework that has catalyzed collaboration across the three offices at the University of California, Davis (Global Affairs; Sustainability; and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), in ways that are innovative, forward-looking, and perhaps unusual for a large university. This session will describe the benefits of the collaborative partnership between the offices, articulate some of our joint efforts and projects, and discuss how UC Davis is finding ways to infuse and address the SDGs throughout our institution – both in our internal operations and our external engagement with partners around the world. We will describe how we are deepening engagement with external partners; creating a “community of practice” on SDGs on campus; and planning to collect and analyze data on our efforts to identify gaps and opportunities, beginning with a crosswalk assessment between our recent STARS report and the SDGs.

Moderated by: Gbemi Disu, Chief Business Officer, George Mason University Korea


Camille Kirk, Director of Sustainability and Campus Sustainability Planner, University of California, Davis

Camille Kirk leads multiple high-visibility plans, projects, and programs for campus sustainability and oversees complex assessment across a wide variety of sustainability metrics. Beyond campus, Camille is one of the initiators of the Yolo Resiliency Collaborative and currently serves on the Yolo County Climate Compact, the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative Steering Committee, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Steering Committee. She holds an M.A. in Geography from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a B.A. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin.

Kelli O’Day, Assessment Program Manager, University of California, Davis

Kelli O’Day is the assessment program manager in the Office of Sustainability. She aided the campus in submitting its most recent report for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), for which the campus received a gold rating. Prior to her role with the Office of Sustainability, O’Day was the sustainability coordinator at a UC Davis student-run dining operation, the Coffee House, where she received two campus-funded grants from The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) to start a rooftop aeroponic tower garden and improve the waste diversion mechanism at the Coffee House. She is a certified California Naturalist.

Jolynn Shoemaker, Director of Global Engagements, University of California, Davis

In her role as Director of Global Engagements, Jolynn Shoemaker is leading the Global Centers Initiative and supporting strategy around UC Davis engagement with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to UC Davis, Ms. Shoemaker spent almost 20 years in Washington DC working with numerous NGOs and for the U.S. Government on foreign policy and national security issues, with a focus on gender equality in peace and security institutions. She holds a J.D. (focus on international human rights), an M.A. (Security Studies) from Georgetown University, and a B.A. from University of California, San Diego.

Renetta Tull, Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of California, Davis

Dr. Renetta G. Tull is the inaugural vice chancellor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at University of California, Davis. She previously served as associate vice provost for strategic initiatives at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), as well as director of graduate and professional pipeline development and special assistant to the senior vice chancellor for the University system of Maryland (USM). Tull earned engineering and science degrees from Howard University and Northwestern University and is a Tau Beta Pi “Eminent Engineer.” She is a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization team member for the next international engineering report.

Embedding Sustainable Development Goals into the Curriculum

The tag line for the Mason Impact program at George Mason University (GMU) is: “Mason Impacts Students. Students Impact the World.” Join us as we discuss how this undergraduate initiative at George Mason University has promoted intentional and connected curriculum through high impact practices. A central goal of the program is preparing students to tackle global questions and challenges through curricular and co-curricular experiences. We will focus on examples such as GMU’s Curriculum Impact Grants (CIGs), how we are exploring integrating SDG goals into our general education program, and the creation of minors that focus on a single SDG.  

Moderated by: Lynn Durham, Vice President of Institute Relations, Georgia Institute of Technology


Jesse Guessford, Associate Director of Undergraduate Education, George Mason University 

Dr. Jesse Guessford serves as Associate Director of Undergraduate Education and as Associate Professor in the School of Music at George Mason University. Dr. Guessford received a B.S. in Music Education from West Chester University, an M.M. in Music Composition from the Crane School of Music, and a D.M.A. in Music Composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Guessford has focused on the scholarship of teaching with and about technology and the music of John Cage. In addition, his music, which focuses on human and computer interplay, has been heard throughout the world. 

Bethany Usher, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, George Mason University 

Dr. Bethany Usher earned her PhD in Biological Anthropology from Penn State in 2000. She is the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education at George Mason University and a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Mason. Prior to her appointment as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, Bethany served as Director of the Students as Scholars program at GMU, where her leadership has transformed the program into a leading national hub of undergraduate research. Her success in promoting undergraduate research has led her to speak to international audiences about the importance of research opportunities for undergraduates. Her own research focuses on the bioarchaeology of cemeteries and burials, in order to understand past human health. Her research informs her popular classes “Humans, disease, and death” and “Food and human evolution.” 

Kristen Wright, Director of Community Engagement and Civic Learning, George Mason University 

Kristen Wright is the Director of Civic Engagement at George Mason University. In this capacity, Kristen collaborates with students, faculty, and community partners to incorporate civic learning and community engagement into academic courses and the student experience. Prior to joining Mason, Kristen worked with faculty at the Johns Hopkins Health Professional Schools (Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health) to develop service-learning courses, facilitate dialogue around community engagement and social justice, and connect students with community partners for mutually beneficial service opportunities. 


Territorial Prospective of Risaralda Department (Colombia), based on the SDG´s (Presented in English and en Español)

This session discusses a user-friendly tool developed for tracking for the goals and objectives proposed in the Departmental Development Plan 2020 – 2023 “Risaralda Sentimiento de Todos,” which uses the Sustainable Development Goals as its fundamental organizing principle. This tool can help present a holistic perspective when creating development plans and engaging in land use planning. The solutions discussed in this presentation are supported by studies and reflections and from different Colombian institutions, such as the CODS Center for the Sustainable Development Goals for Latin America of the Universidad de Los Andes, and based on the experience of expert professionals who are familiar with regional and national dynamics.

En esta sesión se discute una herramienta de fácil utilización elaborada para el seguimiento de las metas y objetivos propuestos en el Plan de Desarrollo Departamental 2020-2023 “Risaralda Sentimiento de Todos”, que utiliza los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible como principio organizativo fundamental. Esta herramienta puede ayudar a presentar una perspectiva holística al crear planes de desarrollo y al emprender la planificación del uso de la tierra. Las soluciones discutidas en esta presentación están sustentadas por estudios y reflexiones de diferentes instituciones colombianas, como el Centro CODS para los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible para América Latina de la Universidad de los Andes, y en base a la experiencia de profesionales expertos familiarizados con dinámicas regionales y nacionales.

Moderated by: Felipe Castro, Director (e) Centro ODS para América Latina y el Caribe, Universidad de los Andes


Juan Guillermo Gil Garcia, Architect / Research Associate Professor, Universidad Católica de Pereira

Juan Guillermo Gil Garcia is an Architect who holds degrees from the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota, Colombia, and in Habitat, Technology, and Development from the Polytechnic of Turin in Turin, Italy. He works for the GAD Architecture and Design Research Group and is a research associate professor of Architecture and Design at the Catholic University of Pereira UCP. He is an active member of the Colombian Society of Architects and Departmental Planning Advisor in the Risaralda Government in the social sector.  He is the author of numerous projects and academic research articles, which deal with topics related to the history of architecture, habitat, urban improvement, subnormal settlements, climate change, civil engineering, and social housing in Latin America.

Juan Guillermo Gil García es un arquitecto graduado de la Universidad Pontificia Javeriana en Bogotá, Colombia, y en Hábitat, Tecnología y Desarrollo del Politécnico de Turín, Italia. Trabaja para el Grupo de Investigación de Arquitectura y Diseño GAD y es profesor asociado de investigación de Arquitectura y Diseño en la Universidad Católica de Pereira, UCP. Es miembro activo de la Sociedad Colombiana de Arquitectos y Asesor de Planificación Departamental del Gobierno de Risaralda, en el sector social. Es autor de numerosos proyectos y artículos de investigación académica, que tratan temas relacionados con la historia de la arquitectura, hábitat, mejoramiento urbano, asentamientos subnormales, cambio climático, ingeniería civil y vivienda social en América Latina.

Samanta Londoño Velásquez, Law Student, University Libre

Samanta Londoño Velásquez is a young woman of 18 years old who graduated from the educational institution “La Inmaculada” in Pereira, Colombia, where she started an environmental project with a great impact in the department. Currently, she is a second-year law student in the University Libre in Pereira, Colombia. She is also a research assistant of the DERCO constitutional seedbed and a representative of the youth sector in the “Consejo Territorial de Planeación de Risaralda (CTP)”.

Samanta Londoño Velásquez es una joven de 18 años, egresada de la Institución educativa la Inmaculada de Pereira, donde inicio un proyecto ambiental que ha lograd impactar en el departamento, actualmente es estudiante de segundo año de derecho de la Universidad Libre de Pereira, auxiliar de investigación del semillero constitucional DERCO y representante del sector juvenil en el Consejo Territorial de Planeación de Risaralda CTP.


Global Learning for All: Educating for a Sustainable Future

The State University of New York (SUNY) has initiated a ground-breaking effort to holistically integrate the SDGs into its core activities of education, scholarship, operations, and community engagement. By building and fostering a culture of global responsibility through curricular, co-curricular, and leadership efforts, SUNY is working to evolve the global citizenship of its students while increasing the positive impact that its community of more than half a million students, faculty, and staff can have to advance the SDGs. With the planning process ongoing, SUNY is already actuating the work through operational changes and the SUNY COIL Global Commons. When education abroad was disrupted by COVID, individuals from the Global Learning for All committee quickly pulled together a group of colleagues from throughout the system to develop a virtual study abroad program anchored in advancing the SDG’s. In addition to the project-based, mentored applied learning experience offered to the first cohort in summer 2020, the Commons will support future educational programming around the SDGs by making high quality Open Educational Resource content widely available.

Moderated by: Jonas Haertle, Special Assistant to the Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Teaching and Research (UNITAR)


Dr. Kristin Esterberg, President, SUNY Potsdam

Dr. Kristin Esterberg serves as SUNY Potsdam’s 16th president, a position she has held since 2014. Under her leadership, SUNY Potsdam created the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning and its first-ever strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Esterberg serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Executive Steering Committee of the Millennium Leadership Initiative. She chairs the board of the Associated Colleges of St. Lawrence Valley. She earned Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from Boston University.

Tod Laursen, Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor SUNY System Administration

Tod A. Laursen joined the SUNY as the Senior Vice Chancellor and Provost in September of 2018. Dr. Laursen joined SUNY from Khalifa University (United Arab Emirates), where he was the founding president from 2010-2018. Dr. Laursen earned his Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University. He specializes in computational mechanics focused on developing new computational algorithms and tools used to analyze mechanical and structural systems.

Ryan A. McPherson, Chief Sustainability Officer, University at Buffalo

Ryan McPherson is the University at Buffalo’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, a position in which he works to connect people across the university with information, innovation, and tools to reduce UB’s footprint on the future and enhance quality of life by improving environmental stewardship, increasing economic efficiency, and augmenting cultural values and awareness. Prior to this, Ryan was the Associate Vice President for Government & Community Relations. Ryan also has played a pivotal role in creating and implementing UB’s aggressive climate action plan (recently recognized by THE’s Impact Report) while driving a university-wide approach to sustainability.

Closing Plenary

Join as we close out the day with some reflections on the gathering and an introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Dashboard, developed by a team of researchers at Saint Joseph’s University.

David Steingard, Director – SDG Dashboard, Saint Joseph’s University

David Steingard, Ph.D. is Director of the SDG Dashboard in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, USA. The SDG Dashboard is a collaborative online platform for collecting and sharing the best United Nations SDG impact practices of global business universities and business schools.

Tofunmi Duro-Aina, Graduate Student, Saint Joseph’s University

Tofunmi Duro-Aina, SDG Dashboard Graduate Assistant at Saint Joseph’s University. Currently enrolled in the Masters of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics program at Saint Joseph’s University. She has experience in consulting, client engagement and Data Visualization. She designs and builds SDG Dashboards and engages with client schools about the entire process.

Francis Grey, Graduate Student, Saint Joseph’s University

Francis J. Grey III, SDG Dashboard Graduate Assistant at Saint Joseph’s University. Enrolled in the Masters of Business Administration program at Saint Joseph’s University. Experienced in corporate financial analysis, data administration, staff development, client relations, and public speaking.

Kara McLaughlin, Undergraduate Student, Saint Joseph’s University

Kara McLaughlin, SDG Dashboard Student at Saint Joseph’s University. Kara is currently a senior with a major in computer science and minors in data science and mathematics, and a member of the SJU Honors Program. She has experience in software development, database development, and artificial intelligence.





A special thank you to the UGC conference planning committee:

Arturo Condo, President, EARTH University (Committee Chair)

Felipe Castro, Director (e) Centro ODS para América Latina y el Caribe, Universidad de los Andes

Sally Crimmins Villela, Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs, State University of New York

Drew Cutright, Program Manager, Georgia Institute of Technology

Gbemi Disu, Chief Business Officer, George Mason University Korea

Catalina González-Uribe, Director of International Affairs, Universidad de los Andes

Joanna Regulska, Vice Provost and Dean – Global Affairs, Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, University of California, Davis

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