GlobaLinks Sep 2022

Making a world of difference: Future17 and CUHK

Future17 develops future champions of sustainable development.

Future17 develops future champions of sustainable development.

CUHK has joined Future17, a new multiinstitutional, multidisciplinary programme initiated by the University of Exeter (Exeter) and Quacquarelli Symonds Limited (QS) to give students from CUHK and across the world the opportunity to work together towards the implementation of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and develop solutions for tackling some of the grand challenges confronting societies globally.


CUHK as a Future17 partner

The initiative was started by a consortium of universities from four continents: CUHK, Exeter in the UK, Stellenbosch University in South Africa and the University of São Paulo in Brazil. The pilot programme was launched in the second term of 2021–22, with some 120 students from the four universities joining. The University saw 25 students and 10 academics take part in it.

The programme began with an online induction introducing students to the SDGs and the skills needed for tackling sustainability challenges. Mentored by academics from participating universities and industry partners, students were assigned to teams working on 11 projects in areas such as carbon literacy, food security and SDG education, and were tasked with designing innovative solutions to sustainability problems. Upon completion, an online project showcase was held. At CUHK, the programme can be counted as part of University General Education requirements.


Contributing to a better future

Through this programme, CUHK is fulfilling its commitment to addressing grand challenges and contributing to the wellbeing of the global community through teaching, research and global engagement.

CUHK Provost Prof. Alan Chan stressed that, ‘Higher education in the 21st century must address the grand challenges that confront humanity. The programme presents an excellent opportunity for students to work with an international team and organisations to solve real-life problems. We hope they will not only gain valuable experience and acquire new skills, but also become future champions of sustainable development. CUHK is pleased to be a founding partner of this global initiative, which aligns with the goals of “CUHK 2025”, the University’s new strategic plan.’

The programme brings students from different cultural backgrounds and educational settings together to tackle sustainability challenges.

The programme brings students from different cultural backgrounds and educational settings together to tackle sustainability challenges.

‘Through the programme, students have learnt the complex nature of real-world sustainability issues, and realised the necessity to join forces in order to find practical solutions,’ said Prof. Amos Tai, Associate Director of the Office of University General Education. ‘Everybody can play a role, not only through their own career but also by adjusting their lifestyle, in creating an economically vibrant, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable world.’


A rewarding experience

CUHK students who participated in the projects benefited greatly from the knowledge and experience they acquired. ‘During the programme, I did a lot of research related to public health and found that environmental changes, such as sea-level rises and droughts, can affect people’s health. We helped design frameworks and toolkits that will enable academics and other members of the community to educate others on the importance of climate action and how it influences all the other SDGs. It was an excellent opportunity to integrate academic learning with life experiences and community engagement,’ said Enzo Li, a Year 2 public health student who participated in a climate action project.

In addition to benefiting the students, the solutions developed in the projects generate value for the challenge partners, participating universities, businesses and third sector organisations.

For more details about Future17, please refer to the programme website.