New Course Places Ethics as Central to Achieving Sustainable Development

The SDG Academy has completed another filming for a new course on Ethics for Sustainable Development. The course draws from the ethical teachings of faith traditions around the world to support the Sustainable Development Goals through collective moral understanding and ethical action.

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, prepares for filming.

The course is inspired by the Ethics In Action (EIA) initiative, which was created following the publication of the papal encyclical Laudato Si’. (To learn more about Pope Francis’ urgent call to protect our common home, check out the SDG Academy’s self-paced mini-course on Laudato Si’.) Between 2016 and 2018, EIA brought together religious leaders, theologians, academics, business and labor leaders, development practitioners, and activists for a series of meetings to discuss progress towards various sustainable development challenges and establish a multi-faith consensus on the ethical responsibilities of humanity.

Production of the new course began in December 2018 at the final meeting of the Ethics In Action initiative at the Vatican. Additional filming took place last week at the Garrison Institute, a spiritual retreat center in New York’s Hudson Valley, during an follow-up session. The course is led by Columbia University Professor and SDSN Director Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, accompanied by Secretary General of Religions for Peace International Dr. William F. Vendley; and features renowned philosophers, scholars, and representatives of a variety of spiritual traditions including Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, Judaism, and indigenous spiritualities.

The production team with Algonquin Hereditary Chief T8aminik Rankin and Marie-Josée Tardif.

While it would be impossible to represent every faith and tradition, the Ethics course seeks to offer thoughts from leaders across a variety of perspectives in an effort to establish moral solidarity for global development. It exposes the need for an ethical framework to align systems of power with principles of dignity and human rights. In doing so, the course will demonstrate how communities of faith are well-positioned to play a key role in sustainable development. Learners will probe the core of what it means to be human, and discover how that understanding of ourselves can guide good conduct toward each other and the planet.

Ethics for Sustainable Development is scheduled to launch in September 2019 on edX. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow the SDG Academy on social media for updates.