The CUNY Youth Ambassador program aims to build an understanding within CUNY of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically the global education goal (SDG4) and seed a movement of informed student youth advocates active in local, national and international education spaces. In collaboration with the UNESCO GEM (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization General Education Monitoring Report) team in Paris, the program directors launched this initiative in February 2018.
The program recruits a youth ambassador from CUNY, the CUNY Youth Ambassador (CYA), and provides the CYA an exclusive opportunity to be exposed to issues on global development and the international world of the UN agencies, and offers him/her the unique opportunity to work closely with, and be mentored by, the program directors for the duration of a semester. The CYA also has the unique opportunity to attend the Youth Assembly; a platform that brings together global young leaders and changemakers to tackle groundbreaking solutions and foster real action for sustainable development. In return, the CYA has the unique responsibility to innovate on ways to engage fellow students and to spread the word about the SDGs and their importance.
The program also aims to add priceless value to the academic experience of CUNY students and to offer them the opportunity to extend their learning experience into the realms of sustainable development, global goals and the UN international scene. It also aims to elevate CUNY’s global profile and propel CUNY’s strategic framework, and its pillars, forward — specifically, the pillars addressing Access and Completion, and Knowledge Creation and Innovation Research.
Our tenure at City Tech combines more than 20 years of teaching experience and has involved redefining curriculum, reducing costs and increasing accessibility by digitalizing courses, creating open-source resources and advocating heartfelt, personal work, especially with students who are most at risk. Our vision and efforts led to the creation of a developmental pilot course delivered in a workshop setting using iPads, an in-house authored open-source textbook and a free online homework platform. Our main emphasis was on skills that extend beyond the classroom and on creating the appropriate access that factors in the financial needs of our students.
In February 2017, inspired by an event at the International Peace Institute which focused on education, SDGs and partnerships in digital education technologies, our attention broadened to examining CUNY’s alignment and involvement in attaining UN goals. We were invited by PassBlue (an independent, women-led digital publication offering in-depth journalism on the US-UN relationship and its effects on urgent global matters) to write an op-ed piece discussing our ideas. The article was published in July 2017 with a strong proposal: to initiate an educational partnership that can propel progress toward the global education goal (SDG4) between CUNY, the country’s largest public university, and the UN. The article paved the ways to multiple discussions with the Paris GEM Report team at UNESCO on ways for collaborating to realize our proposal, especially with aim of building an understanding within the CUNY student population of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, SDG4 and seeding a movement of informed youth advocates active in local, national and international education spaces. The role of the CUNY Youth Ambassador was thus born!
You can read more about our story and the full op-ed piece here.