MC’s Sustainable September Gives International Issues Campus Context

Tori James, Staff Writer

Pope Francis will be making his way from the Vatican to the Big Apple this week to address the United Nations on sustainable development goals set to be put into action in 2015. Manhattan College is also doing its part to get involved with Sustainable September, a month long series of campus events exploring the intersection of sustainability and the college’s Lasallian heritage.

The idea was constructed by the Catholic Relief Service’s Task Force and the office of Campus Ministry and Social Action. Their goal is to promote action and awareness of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the Manhattan College community.

“(Sustainable September) is our effort to have Manhattan College actively involved in the conversation about one of the most pressing issues in the world today,” Director of Campus Ministry and Social Action Lois Harr said. “It’s a very concrete way of showing us acting on our mission and our Lasallian values. We need to not only be aware, but put these ideas into practice.”

Sustainable September consists of four different events presented by Manhattan College professors Pamela Chasek, Ph.D., Gennaro Maffia, Ph.D. and Kevin Ahearn, Ph.D. Chasek kicked off the series were her talk “From the MDGs to the SDGs: The United Nations’ Post-2015 Development Agenda.”

“What does it all matter unless we see something happen?” Chasek asked her audience of students and faculty.

The presentation addressed the main points of the UN’s sustainable development goals. These include ending poverty and hunger, enforcing gender equality, promoting inclusive and equitable quality of education, creating clean water solutions and more.

The SDGs were created as a response to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were put into place in 2000. For its 2015 plan, the UN improved upon (rather than just recreated) its previous strategy and ended up forming its current sustainable development goals.

“They wanted to create a plan where no one is left behind,” Chasek said. “They thought, ‘let’s not try to recycle, but think positively and create something new.’”

The UN put the SDGs and their agenda in action, but now the primary task is to get the ideas out to the public. There are serious marketing efforts being made to help make a difference, especially in spreading awareness to college-age students. One of these more prominent marketing events is the Global Citizens Festival concert in Central Park, a concert headlined by Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay this year.

Chasek stressed the importance of marketing and the involvement of the general public to help change the world.

“The power of public opinion makes a big difference,” Chasek said. “Accountability can only happen if we demand it.”