Advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals through Education Abroad | ISBN: 978-1-952376-09-2SDG Logo

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Workshops on the UN SDGs


These guidelines serve to direct the education abroad sector toward social, economic, and environmental sustainability by connecting the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (henceforth referred to as the SDGs). The SDGs have received widespread recognition as a critical pathway to assuring the long-term maintenance and enhancement of human well-being in light of finite planetary resources. The SDGs are the center of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.” These guidelines, like the SDGs, recognize that sustainability is an important aspect of promoting social and economic well-being around the world and counteracting climate change.

Aligning practices with the United Nations SDGs is crucial to The Forum on Education Abroad’s mission to “cultivate educators who champion high quality education abroad experiences that ignite curiosity, impact lives, and contribute to a better world.” The SDGs are global and aspirational, representing a monumental change in practices, values, and priorities resulting from ground-level action across all nations and sectors. By aligning with the SDGs, education abroad can be carried out in a way that not only benefits people but also enriches the planet.


This document is intended to supplement the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad. These guidelines can be used in many ways, including:

  • As a resource to advocate for change within organizations
  • To guide program design, development, and review
  • As a resource to promote incorporating the SDGs into education abroad curricula
  • To aid in the establishment and review of institutional and community partnerships
  • As a benchmarking tool to map institutional and organizational progress

These guidelines are for individual practitioners, institutions, and organizations. The guidelines apply to:

  • Undergraduate, graduate, professional, continuing education
  • For credit and not-for-credit programs
  • All education abroad program types
  • Faculty and researchers
  • Institutional and organizational administrators
  • National and international organizations
  • External leadership and community partners

Ideally, institutions would take a holistic approach to the SDGs, embedding their themes across the curriculum and all programs, activities, and operations, empowering staff, instructors and students to take action on them. However, these guidelines recognize that this may not always be feasible and aim also to support learning and thinking about the SDGs, and acting on them, in a wide range of academic and logistical contexts where perhaps only targeted or gradual steps are possible. The SDG Impact Table for Education Abroad that follows these guidelines provide examples of how education abroad may advance each SDG. Practitioners are invited to use the Impact Table Worksheet to make additional or different connections between their programming and the SDGs.

Check out this session from The Forum’s 17th Annual Conference in March, 2021, for an overview of the guidelines, Impact Table, and examples of how different Forum members are applying them.

The Forum thanks its Aligning with the UN SDGs Working Group for their contribution to the preparation of these Guidelines:

  • Adrienne Fusek, San Diego State University, Climate Action Network for International Educators, co-chair
  • Valeria Albani, Rhode Island School of Design
  • Maria Dietrich, Northampton Community College
  • Elizabeth Frohlich, The Forum on Education Abroad, co-chair
  • Rikke Kolbech, DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia
  • Kevin Murphy, University of New Haven Tuscany Campus
  • Daniel Ponce-Taylor, Intercultural Outreach Initiative (IOI)
  • Ravi Raj, Authentica
  • Uttiyo Raychaudhuri, The University of Denver
  • Leo Rowland, Studio Arts College International (SACI)
  • Karla Torres, Go Experience Travel (GET) Ecuador
  • Karen Williams, Drake University