RGU students holding signs with pledges

Global Citizenship Live: RGU students bring SDGs to life

By Clara Maurillon - 21 March 2024

We organised our very first "Global Citizenship Live" event in February 2024, an opportunity for students to learn more about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and how they can get involved in taking positive actions both at and outside university. PhD student and organiser Leila answers our questions about the event.

Can you tell us a bit more about Global Citizenship (GC) Live?

This vibrant event was co-created by a team of staff and students coming together from across RGU, all passionate about bringing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to life. We had people getting involved behind the scenes and on the day. From wonderful Student School Officers volunteering to help, to Student Union presidents, RGU SPORT, the Centre for Employability and Community Engagement, Communications and Marketing, Student Life, academics, PGR students and so many more… 

The ethos of the event was based on the SDGs and the Global Citizenship Framework: where equity, inclusion, and sustainability meet. In partnership with Student School Officers, vox-pop video booths were set up on campus ahead of the event to capture diverse student voices around ‘what global citizenship means to you’. These videos were then shared at the opening of the GC Live event to spark discussions around the tables.

In partnership with the Student Union, we also kicked things off a few days before with a pre-event, the Global Goals Café where students were welcomed to a creative painting session learning about the SDGs, a pop quiz, pizza, networking opportunities. This gave them the opportunity to create artwork that was then displayed at the GC Live event itself and at the SDG campus treasure trail, post event. 

For GC Live, we followed a framework of 3Cs: Connect, Create, Celebrate! Attendees connected with each other, with external facilitators and their own values, they then created pledges to ‘people and planet’, and finally celebrated the role each of us can play in creating a fairer, greener, and more inclusive world with an SDG photo booth and campus treasure trail.

Co hosts Leila and Georgiana, alongside guest speakers Deena and Chris

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Student attending the event smiling

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Pledges written on colourful pieces of paper

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Laura Chalmers presenting RGUplus

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SDG graphics on table

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Co hosts Leila and Georgiana, alongside guest speakers Deena and Chris
Student attending the event smiling
Pledges written on colourful pieces of paper
Laura Chalmers presenting RGUplus
SDG graphics on table

We were delighted to have sponsorship from TotalEnergies with a shared ethos of sustainability, and who kindly offered up their time and expertise as facilitators.

What were some key messages shared at GC Live?

The event was opened by Laura Chalmers who talked about RGUplus and the associated ‘Beyond the Classroom’ pathways, with the wonderful potential they hold for students to develop themselves, their communities, and their employability skills. 

GC Live hosted inspiring guest speakers who offered students insights into opportunities for citizenship:

  • Mike from ACVO Aberdeen spoke passionately about the vital role of volunteering.
  • John from HALLA talked about the power of community engagement.
  • RGU alumna Deena shared her journey from Sri-Lanka to her current advocacy work as a local councillor and echoed the importance of believing in yourself and your dreams.
  • Chris from RGU's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group inspired students to think innovatively about how we can tackle global challenges at home and internationally.

The event was closed by my co-host Georgiana and myself, as we shared our changemaker lived experiences (SDGs 4, 5, 10) and offered positive encouragement to all students starting out on their own journey from RGU citizen to global citizen. 

What was the aim of the event and how was it achieved?

We wanted to create an event that was both fun and informative. We had three learning intentions/areas of focus:

  • Understanding what is global citizenship
  • Raised awareness of the UN SDGs
  • Starting to plan personal journeys to global citizenship

We also aimed to highlight SDG work happening around campus such as the Breakfast Club (SDG2) or free membership at RGU SPORT and health and wellbeing initiatives (SDG 3), and at school level such as the Torry Physiotherapy Clinic and the Grampian Community Law Clinic.

Students were also informed of opportunities for developing global citizenship at RGU, such as volunteering with the Denis Law Legacy Trust, or donating and recycling clothes or household items via the Kaim Shop in the Riverside Building. Find out more about opportunities to get involved with the SDGs at RGU: 

Global Citizenship Live SDG calendar

SDG cubes

We didn’t want the event to just be about global citizenship but to embody it as well, so we designed the day and the activities with sustainability in mind. Most of the activities were done digitally to minimise the use of paper. We also didn’t want any plastic in sight! For the props, we sourced backdrops made of sustainable cotton and used fabric SDG cubes that will be reused at next year’s event. The vibrant artwork created by the students at the pre-event were repurposed, given centre stage, and used on the day. 

Student feedback has been delightful to read and showcases the success of our event: 

"The Global Citizenship Live event was really worth it for me as I had the opportunity to meet with brilliant students and lecturers as well learn new things about RGU, my community, and the world. I also had the privilege to make a commitment to myself, my community and humanity, which I have been working on lately." – Anthony

" I must say it was one of the best events I attended. The programme motivated me to reflect on my values and actions, prompting me to consider how I can contribute to creating positive change on a global scale." - Achini

What do you think the highlight of the event was?

It was seeing and feeling the buzz in the room of staff and students sitting together and passionately sharing personal pledges for sustainability, equality, and inclusion, in all that we do. Their pledges said it all: from recycling more intentionally, to planning cycling to campus, using less paper, plastic, and fast fashion.

My favourite part was seeing the excitement and new found determination to champion global citizenship and their plans to raise awareness with their flatmates, friends, and family. For me, that’s what GC Live is all about – being the change!

Be the Change sign

Izzy Crawford, Associate Dean at the School of Creative and Cultural Business, also shares her insight on this exciting first event: 

"The RGU Global Citizenship event was designed to encourage students to think about how they can be active global citizens and make a personal pledge to promote the SDGs through their own behaviour and actions.

"It was a great way to introduce students to the RGUplus programme and highlight the importance of sustainability and innovation for creating a better future. However, what really stood out was how bright, colourful, friendly and engaging the event was with students from a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds sharing their thoughts, ideas, and experiences.  It felt like a true celebration of Global Citizenship and everything it embodies, and I hope there will be many more events like this in the future.” 

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