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A Brief Guide to Teaching the SDGs

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

What are the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

There are many global challenges the world faces in the 21st Century. In 2015 the 193 members of the United Nations agreed to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. These goals address global problems like climate change, inequality, unemployment, violence, etc.



Why should you teach the SDGs?

In the last few years it’s clear that issues like climate change, plastic waste management, increasing migration, and other major issues are growing global concerns. For the last two years students have become highly active in protesting and finding solutions to both national and global issues. In March 2018 students led March for Our Lives with over 1 million participants to put an end to gun violence in the US. Another ongoing student led protest is School Strike for Climate that is putting pressure on governments to tackle climate change. The one this March had 1.4 Million students join from 128 countries (article). The next one will be from the 20th till the 27th of September.


Traditional education gives students few opportunities to explore, understand, and solve real world problems. So how are students expected to prepare for all these global issues? The SDGs can be used as a framework and tool to support students develop their research, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills. Students need these 21st Century skills to prepare them for the major real-world problems they will face during their lifetime. Exploring the SDGs can also support students find their identity and purpose.


How do the SDGs relate to your curriculum and standards?

Many of the SDGs relate directly to the different STEAM related topics. In fact, many of the topics in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) align closely with different SDGs. Of course, many of the SDGs relate to social and political issues so they can be used for language or history classes as well. So the SDGs can also be aligned with Common Core. 


How can you start teaching the SDGs?

Thrive and Classtime have teamed up to provide you with an activity/discussion on SDG #13 Climate Action to be used by math, science, language, & history teachers. SDG #13 relates to the issues of global climate change and the aim is to reduce CO2 emissions in hopes to prevent global temperature from rising any further. We have done our best to align these activities to NGSS and Common Core at a high school level.


Check out the activities:



Where can you get more free SDG resources?

If you want to cover more of the SDGs in your classroom we have activity/discussion questions on all the SDGs related to the areas of math, science, and language/history. They are best suited for high school or university educators. You can find them here: (link).


We are working on creating more free resources related to the SDGs and preparing students for the future. Want to stay up to date on our latest resources? You have a few options:


Want an SDG Challenge or Curriculum?

Thrive offers high schools and university SDG Challenges, which combine design thinking and project based learning to empower students to discover their purpose through exploring the SDGs. We also offer a year long SDG Curriculum with an SDG Challenge as the capstone project. Contact Mario (thrivecentro[at]gmail.com) to learn which SDG program fits your school.

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