University of Minnesota: U of M System Ranks Among the Top Schools for Addressing Hunger and Health in the US in its Inaugural Impact Ranking for Sustainability

The University of Minnesota has taken another significant step in its efforts to highlight its impact nationally and globally, and fulfilling promises laid out in the MPact 2025 systemwide strategic plan, by participating in the fourth edition of the Times Higher Ed Impact Rankings (THE Impact Rankings), which in 2022 includes 1,406 institutions from 106 countries/regions.

In its inaugural year, the U of M ranked No. 16 in the world and No. 5 in the U.S. for its work related to combating hunger and No. 2 in the U.S. and tied for No. 57 in the world for its work related to promoting good health and well-being.

“We are proud to be listed among such prestigious peers in our first year as part of the THE Impact Rankings and to be doing our part to advance the Sustainable Development Goals that our world so desperately needs,” said Rachel T.A. Croson, the U of M’s executive vice president and provost. “The self-study required to participate in the rankings inspired us to explore and quantify our efforts toward these goals and to identify where we can be doing more. These collective efforts are building upon a coalition of partners across the University of Minnesota System and our communities to advance our systemwide strategic plan and to make a positive difference locally and globally.”

The THE Impact Rankings compare educational institutes worldwide for their commitment and efforts to conduct research, outreach, stewardship and teaching in areas of building a more sustainable, equitable and healthy future. The rankings reflect these institutions’ work in addressing 17 specific goals aimed at achieving a better world by 2030, known as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by all United Nations (UN) member states in 2015, these goals provide a shared blueprint for measuring progress and impact in advancing peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

Significantly, the U of M was among the first institutions worldwide and one of the few institutions in the US, to submit to the THE Impact Rankings as a statewide system, a point that distinguishes its results from its peers. The final submission included examples gathered from every U of M campus, including 45 from the Twin Cities campus, 11 from the Morris campus, nine from the Duluth campus, two from the Crookston campus, one from the Rochester campus and 13 from systemwide programs (including U of M Extension work and research centers).

A full overview of how the University ranked and the methodology used can be found on the THE Impact Ranking website and further details of the University’s submission are available at the U of M SDG Initiative website.

The THE Impact Ranking submission is one piece of a larger University effort related to the Sustainable Development Goals. The U of M Sustainable Development Goals Initiative, which is supported by the University’s Global Programs and Strategy Alliance and kicked off in Fall 2019, is a systemwide effort to mobilize University resources to advance innovative and impactful work that will address the greatest challenges of our generation in Minnesota, the nation and the world as laid out under the globally-recognized impact framework of the SDGs. These activities are now included in the University’s MPact 2025 systemwide strategic plan.

“A core part of our mission as a public, land-grant and internationally engaged university is to improve lives in Minnesota and around the world,” said Meredith McQuaid, U of M associate vice president and dean of international programs. “The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provide a unique framework by which we can measure our success and gain inspiration to do more. By including the SDG Initiative in the systemwide strategic plan, university leadership has acknowledged the impact and value of these efforts.”

Over the last three years, the Initiative has helped develop both internal and external partnerships around the SDGs. Internally, this has included working closely with other University sustainability efforts, distributing SDG research and activity grants to faculty and students, mapping U of M research and courses to the SDGs and establishing SDG co-labs. Externally, this has included developing partnerships with the UN, the Aurora University Network, The Minnesota SDG Roundtable, private sector partners and across the state to promote collaborations that can meet state and national goals using the SDGs to align work and mobilize resources.

By aligning U of M work to key, specific SDG targets under relevant goals like SDG 2: Zero Hunger; SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being; SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation; and SDG 13: Climate Action, the goals provide a clear road map to local impact in state and national priority areas, a common framework to align and integrate efforts across many partners and stakeholders, and an avenue to link local work in our communities to contribute to global goals and actors.

“The University of Minnesota SDG initiative is mobilizing globally recognized expertise, programs and projects across the spectrum of social and environmental challenges the world faces as represented by the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” says Katey Pelican, U of M SDG Initiative co-director. “This is happening in simple ways like supporting student groups to host movie nights for peers under these goals. But it is also happening on grander levels like establishing partnerships with industry and government partners to help our state and communities better and more sustainably achieve milestones in clean water quality, food security, climate action and immigrant and refugee community engagement among other SDG related initiatives.”

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