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UNAI Celebrates 10th Anniversary Stressing Partnership with Universities Worldwide

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By Caroline Mwanga

NEW YORK (IDN) – United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), launched in 2010 as an initiative to align colleges and universities with the work of the United Nations, celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 18. The program has more than 1500 members in 147 countries, all applying their academic inquiry, research and innovation to solving some of the world’s greatest challenges while educating the next generation of global leaders.

The work of these institutions is vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they serve as incubators of new ideas, inventions and solutions to the many global challenges we face. United Nations Academic Impact provides the integral link between the UN and these stakeholders to ensure that the international community harnesses the energy and innovation of young people and the research community in service to humanity.

UNAI assists stakeholders in this regard by disseminating information on UN initiatives and activities, providing ideas on how these activities can be applied at the local level on college campuses, in classrooms and in communities, and by providing a platform where university students, academics and researchers can connect and share ideas, research and resources to further the SDGs and other UN mandates.

A significant aspect of the UNAI is a strategic partnership with the Millennium Campus Network (MCN), a global student movement to address humanity’s greatest challenges. MCN and United Nations Academic Impact have partnered to present the Millennium Fellowship. The Fellowship is a leadership development program on university campuses that convenes, challenges, and celebrates student leadership for UN goals.

The partnership began in 2018 and has had a global impact. 15,159 young leaders applied to join the Class of 2020 on 1,458 campuses across 135 nations. 80 campuses worldwide were selected to host the 1,438 Millennium Fellows in the Class of 2020. These Fellows collectively advanced all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 10 UNAI principles. UNAI expects the Fellowship to grow in future years.

Through their programs over a decade, MCN has convened and trained over 7,000 young leaders from 300 campuses around the world to strengthen their communities. 75% of MCN alumni now work in social impact careers in the public and private sectors – building a talent pipeline trusted by employers, funders, and graduate schools.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, shared, “Millennium Fellows, your work matters. Thank you for taking informed action. I am delighted to see MCN and UN Academic Impact partner to support and elevate your leadership.”

Sam Vaghar, Executive Director and Co-founder of MCN, says: “On every campus and in every community, student leaders are committed to making positive contributions while committed to our ethos: empathetic, humble, inclusive leadership.”

Emerging leaders need requisite training, connections, and recognition to deepen their social impact as undergraduates and throughout their careers. “Partnering with UNAI enables us to engage more students, providing a powerful framework to help them convene, take action, and elevate the important contributions they make,” Vaghar added.

“When we created the United Nations Academic Impact to foster a culture of intellectual social responsibility, we considered ‘intellect’ not as something remote or esoteric, but rather as a quality innate in every thinking individual. Our collaboration with MCN will allow students to demonstrate how the wisdom and thought they invest in their formal curriculum can be extended to a greater purpose of common good, lending their strengths to their communities and their world and, in turn, being enriched by them,” says Ramu Damodaran, Chief of United Nations Academic Impact. [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 November 2020]

Photo credit: Millennium Campus Network

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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