Four students in NIU’s Master of Public Health program participated in the Sixth International Symposium for Sustainable Development Goals in Myanmar and Beyond which took place via Zoom.
Mariah Cheyney, Dzeneta Dujkovic, Gabriella Wagoner and Noam Greene presented their research and insights from professional practice at the annual event which was held August 6-8.
“The goal of the symposium is to promote knowledge and share enthusiasm for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with other global citizens while also learning from each other,” said Tomoyuki Shibata, associate professor of NIU’s School of Health Studies and co-founder of Global Environmental Health LAB (GEH LAB), a non-profit organization that organized the event.
Shibata said the symposium is a continuation of GEH LAB’s work that began in Myanmar and Indonesia in 2016 to support higher education and collaborate in support of the SDGs. It featured scholars from both countries, as well as Thailand, Mexico, and a number of educators, practitioners, and students from across the United States.
“Too often, sustainability is associated with energy and the environment”, said Shibata. “However, the Sustainable Development Goals agenda shows us that there are numerous aspects without which we cannot achieve long-term sustainability.”
The symposium presentations echoed the sentiment, ranging from health to poverty reduction, peace and justice, gender equality, and quality education. With only nine years left to achieve the SDGs, Shibata emphasized the importance of education and giving voice to those who are often overlooked in the debate.
“The youth will bear the consequences of today’s decisions,” Shibata said. “That is why this year’s symposium focused on the perspectives of youth and young professionals.”
Over the course of two days, the participants heard from 20 speakers and learned about the work of dozens of professionals who submitted recorded presentations, narratives, and art.
Dujkovic addressed the sustainability of public water systems in Illinois and Wagoner focused on the opportunities associated with the implementation of recycling practices in the operating room.
Greene spoke about harm reduction practices that aim to reduce negative consequences associated with drug use, while Cheyney stressed the need for implementing noise monitoring protocols in neonatal intensive care units to improve neonatal health and the well-being of hospital staff.
“The students served as positive role models providing the knowledge on SDGs at NIU and beyond”, stated Shibata. “I hope that their engagement will help their fellow students and educators understand the role that each one of us plays in achieving sustainability”.
GEH LAB raised $2,800 during the event. The donations will be used to support the quality of education and promote the SDGs in Myanmar, whose educational system has been particularly challenged by the global pandemic, as well as domestic political and civil unrest.
Learn more about NIU’s Master of Public Health program.
–Maja Miłkowska-Shibata contributed to this article.