TU Dublin Rises to the Challenges of Sustainable Development

27 Apr, 2022

In 2020, TU Dublin began an exciting journey to foster the talents of our staff and students to strengthen our collective impact to create a better world, together.

Two short years later, our contribution to the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 is evident in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings published this week.

The University developed its Strategic Intent through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This year, the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings have positioned TU Dublin in the 101-200 bracket, up from last year’s position in the 201 to 301 bracket, making the University one of only a handful of Irish HEIs to improve their impact ratings. These international rankings of 1,406 universities from across the globe are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the UN SDGs.

The UN's 17 SDGs are the world's call to action on the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing humanity and the natural world. TU Dublin is ranked in the top 100 in the world for three categories; 33rd for its contribution toward SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); 83rd for SDG 1 (No Poverty); and 87th for SDG 13 (Climate Action).

Welcoming the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings announcement, the President of TU Dublin, Professor David FitzPatrick, said, "When TU Dublin developed its Strategic Intent to 2030, we set bold targets to address some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since then, the world has faced an unprecedented and devastating health emergency posed by COVID-19; however, the swift development of vaccines has offered real hope for what we can achieve through collective action. As we face the existential threat of climate change, it is vital that we track the University's impact through the UN SDGs. This week's announcement is both a celebration and an acknowledgement of the collective achievements of our academic, research and professional staff, students and partners – well done to you all."

Among the successes contributing to the University's rise in SDG 13 - Climate Action is the Resilient Design Curricula, which is working to radically revise architectural education to ensure the principles of the UN SDGs are embedded into our curricula. The project, led by the TU Dublin School of Architecture in collaboration with all the schools of architecture nationally, will adopt agile models of cooperation, collaboration, and co-learning, to embed the knowledge and skills necessary for architects to respond to the twin challenges of the climate and housing crises, while demonstrating the societal value of inclusive, safe, and resilient design.

Almost 13.5% of the Irish population has a disability. However, Ireland has one of the lowest employment rates for people with disabilities in the European Union at 26.2%, meaning this group is at a greater risk of poverty than the wider population. Self-employment offers people with disabilities the opportunity to participate socially and economically and provides greater flexibility in choosing working hours; however, a report published by TU Dublin in 2020 found that many people with disabilities would not "see themselves" as potential entrepreneurs. Under SDG 1 – No Poverty, TU Dublin introduced a Self-Employment Course for People with Disabilities to address the barriers many in this group have experienced in accessing entrepreneurship supports and raising awareness of the benefits of self-employment for people with disabilities.

Finally, the University's highest impact ranking is SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities, recognising the varied work TU Dublin undertakes in this area. Projects include the considered development of the University's Grangegorman campus while acknowledging the area's historical significance and unique architectural heritage. In partnership with the Grangegorman Development Agency, TU Dublin has committed to preserving 30 existing structures on the campus and reusing materials from those buildings that cannot be repurposed. The Grangegorman campus has also been designed with a strong focus on pedestrian movements, including benches throughout, so people of all physical abilities can enjoy a walk on its beautiful landscaped grounds. 

Read more about the University's collective impact here.