The 21st century is a century of grand challenges to the planet and to humanity. Climate emergency, environmental degradation, economic disruption and social tension, conflicts and political instability at local, regional and global levels, all challenge the existing socio-economic systems, their model of development and the carrying capacity of the planet earth. Sustainability holds the key of human future. On September 25 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted unanimously the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their 169 targets. The ambitious agenda is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The UN Sustainable Solutions Network (SDSN) has been mobilizing different sectors including universities and civil society to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement since 2012. The Hong Kong Chapter of SDSN (SDSN Hong Kong), co-hosted by CUHK and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, was launched in 2018. Being the co-host of SDSN Hong Kong, CUHK is committed to mobilizing expertise and resources to address the SDGs in Hong Kong.

Using the 17 SDGs as a framework, the Office of University General Education launched the SDG Study Scheme in 2020–21 to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow. The SDG Study Scheme enables students who aspire to be future leaders of sustainable development to integrate their academic learning with life experiences and community engagement. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning and adopt SDGs as a unifying theme to extend their learning from knowledge based courses to experiential and service learning, either credit bearing or non-credit bearing. Students will be awarded the honor of being a SDG Explorer with a Certificate after they have finished the study scheme. Those who perform well in the scheme and have outstanding performance in the SDG-SE (Social Engagement) or SDG-VA (Voluntary Activities) will be granted SDG Achiever.

The SDG Study Scheme is comprised of three components, combining knowledge based learning with experiential learning:

  1. A short online course by SDG Academy providing an overview of the SDGs and their significance;
  2. Three knowledge based SDG-GE (General Education) courses;
  3. One SDG-SE (Social Engagement) course or at least 80 hours of co-curricular volunteer activity (SDG-VA)


Component I: A short online course by SDG AcademyHow to achieve the SDGs

This massive open online course (MOOC) taught by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, an economist and the Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), provides an overview of what SDGs are, their significance, and a more in-depth look at planning for SDGs implementation. The course explores issues like the role of SDGs in the global development agenda, the financing of SDGs, and the roles of various stakeholders in the progress towards the goals. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the societal transformations needed to achieve the SDGs.

Students may go to the website of SDG Academy to enroll in the course through edX. Upon finishing the online course, students are required to complete a quiz (conducted through Blackboard) consists of 10 Multiple Choice Questions and pass with a 70% or above in order to fulfill this component. Students will be allowed two attempts to select the correct answers for Multiple Choice Questions. The purchase of Verified Certificate for this online course is optional.

Click here for the syllabus of How to Achieve the SDGs.


Component II: 3 credit-bearing SDG-GE (General Education) courses

SDG-GE courses are knowledge-based courses relevant to at least one SDG. They are existing College and University General Education courses. The course content and learning activities of SDG-GE courses help students to identify major problems that the SDG(s) address(es), analyze those problems from relevant discipline perspectives and investigate potential solutions for solving those problems.

Click here for the list of SDG-GE courses on Blackboard.


Component III: One SDG-SE (Social Engagement) course OR engagement in at least 80 hours of co-curricular volunteer activity (SDG-VA)

This social engagement component of the SDG Study Scheme encourages students to integrate their academic learning with service learning and/or volunteer activity. Students are encouraged to initiate and engage in service and actions relevant to at least one SDG, and to apply and connect prior knowledge with the observations in the field to plan and take action. The aim is to make a difference in the local, regional or global community to promote the quality of life and/or the environment.

To fulfill the requirement, students should enroll in a credit bearing service learning courses or engage in at least 80 hours of volunteer activity. Students would demonstrate the relevance of their learning/ volunteer experiences to SDG(s) and the contributions they made to advance SDGs in a reflection paper submitted to SDG-SE and SDG-VA vetting panel.

To learn more about the SDG Study Scheme, please visit our: