2023 Summer Program for Eco Ambassadors !

Dear all,

THANK YOU for participating in the 2023 Summer Program for Eco Ambassadors!

We have created a summary list so that you can revisit the program.

  1. Syllabus (please see image below). 
    • YouTube Playlist:
    • Some selections of StoryMaps from students' final project submission: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/collections/e389ab4c29d9447ab2eb00cee24a34d2
    • Google Classroom:

    We hope to see you next year!

    syllabus of the 10 weeks

    Annual summer Eco Ambassador Program is here!

    Every year, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University and SDSN SDGs Today offer a summer program that combines lessons on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with geospatial information and digital storytelling. We aim to empower students with innovative tools and skills that can advance their projects, fieldwork, and creative ideas for the SDGs.

    Read more about the program below!

    Summer Program Syllabus

    Welcome to My Age for Sustainable Development online course!

    We are thrilled you are here because your access to this course signals your interest in furthering your knowledge, commitment and connection to sustainability and the broader education for sustainable development (ESD) as well as global citizenship.

    Course Description

    This summer course is a journey that will help you to reflect internally on your Sustainable Development path. You will be able to learn about various aspects of Sustainable Development and will become a critical consumer of facts related to sustainability. You will be empowered to use the knowledge and the skills that you gain through this program to observe your community through a Sustainable Development lens. You will be able to situate the Sustainable Development Goals to your context to narrate your Sustainable Development story. So, are you ready to be a Change Agent? 

    Required Resources

    This summer program will be held virtually. Access to a device and internet connectivity will be required. Google Classroom and ArcGIS license (issued by the program) will be used. 

    Course Objectives

    Through this course, you’ll be able to build content knowledge, technical skills as well as broader soft skills. We have built the course so that you can have exposure to a more holistic take on learning about sustainable development:

    • Technical Skills: geospatial data and tools
    • Content knowledge: sustainable development framework and global issues
    • Soft Skills: communication, self awareness, empowerment for community building, leadership and global citizenship

    Course Duration & Structure

    Week of 19th June 2023 – week of 21st August. Every Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:00am - 12:00pm EST.

    • 10 week program
      • 8 weeks of workshops (twice a week)
      • 2 weeks of project completion


    Week 1: Welcome to My Age of Sustainable Development (June 20/22) 

    SDG theme(s)

    1. Course Overview
    2. Global citizenship, & awareness-building of self and others

    Data/Tech Theme(s) 

    1. Data for SDGs and Introduction to Story Maps 

    Food for thought questions:

    • What is your operational definition of “Global Citizenship”? Would you consider yourself a Global Citizen? What qualities do you have? What do you aspire to? Are there qualities you want to strengthen?  

    Guest Lecture(s) 

    • Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs opening remarks on youth leadership, climate action, ethics, moral, human rights, and the kindness perspective
    • Philipp Harnik, Executive Assistant and Organizational Associate, Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens 
    • Kinvara Jardine Paterson, Director, World's Largest Lesson at Project Everyone
    • Esri StoryMap Team 
    • SDGs Today: need for data-driven narratives 

    Week 2: Overview of Age of Sustainable Development & Global Citizenship(June 27/29)

    SDG theme(s)

    1. Overview of Sustainable Development (SD) & Global Citizenship 
    2. Storytelling for Climate Education

    Data and Tech Theme(s)

    1. Data Visualization: maps and dashboards 

    Food-for-thought questions:

    • Why is climate storytelling important to you? What skills do you already have and what would you like to develop further this summer?

    Guest Lecture(s)

    • Nick Kleese, Director of Community Engagement, Center for Climate Literacy University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
    • Dina Buchbinder, Founder and President, Education 4 Sharing
    • SDGs Today:  ArcGIS Online
    • CIESIN

    Week 3: Community Mapping, Promoting Equity & Social Inclusion (July 6)

    SDG Theme(s)

    1. Community Mapping 
    2. Promoting Equity & Social Inclusion 

    Data/Tech Theme(s)

    1. What is the OpenStreetMap?

    Food-for-thought questions:

    • Human rights philosophy insists every human has Political, Civil, Economic, Social, Cultural rights - which right is a weakness you see in your most immediate community? Are there efforts to improve the current situation?  (modification of Age of SD)

    Guest Lecturer(s)

    • H.O.T
    • SDGs Today: demo of My School Today as use case

    Week 4: Planetary Boundaries (July 11/13)

    SDG Theme(s)

    1. Planetary Boundaries 
    2. Climate Change 

    Data/Tech Theme(s)

    1. Climate action with facts 

    Food for thought questions:

    • Of the 9 planetary boundaries, which are the top concerns in your community/neighborhood/district/country? 

    Guest Lecturer(s):

    • Dorothy Marie Peteet, Senior Research Scientist at NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies & Adjunct Professor, Columbia University
    • Global Fishing Watch


    Week 5: Biodiversity, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security (July 18/20)

    SDG Theme(s)

    1. Biodiversity
    2. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security

    Data/Tech Theme(s)

    1. Biodiversity initiatives and applications for SDG 2

    Food for Thought Question(s)

    • What are the problems with the current agricultural practices around the world? How and why do we need to take responsibility for our personal health and the way we approach food as individuals?

    Guest Lecturer(s)

    • Joaquim Goes, Lamont Research Professor at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University
    • Youth Leadership Council at EarthEcho International
    • SDGs Today: overview of relevant datasets Deforestation, Conservation, Tropics Imagery

    Week 6: Sustainable Infrastructure & Resilient Cities (July 25/27)

    SDG Theme(s)

    1. Sustainable Infrastructure & Sustainable and Resilient Cities (SDG 11)

    Data/Tech Theme(s)

    1. Earth Observation for the SDGs: How satellite imagery can be used to monitor progress

    Food for Thought Question(s)

    • What criteria can we use to say whether a city is sustainable? What kinds of ecological shocks must cities prepare for? How can cities prepare for ecological shocks? 

    Guest Lecturer(s)

    • Jacqueline Klopp,  Co-Director Center for Sustainable Urban Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University

    Week 7: Climate Mitigation & Adaptation (August 1st/3rd)

    SDG Theme(s)

    1. Climate Mitigation & Adaptation

    Data/Tech Theme(s)

    1. AI for Disaster prevention and management

    Food for Thought Question(s)

    • Why is it necessary to pursue both mitigation and adaptation?

    Guest Lecturer(s)

    • Jeff Schegelmilch, Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), Columbia Climate School
    • Virginia Pittaro, Director or Global Partnerships, SIMA Academy
    • SDGs Today, Factivism, Data-driven narratives
    • Claudia Akel, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, SDG Investors / SDGtalks.ai

    Week 8: World Happiness, Conscious Consumerism  & Waste Management(August 8/10)

    SDG Theme(s)

    1. World Happiness Report
    2. Conscious Consumerism and Waste Management (SDG 12)  

    Data/Tech Theme(s)

    1. Measuring “Happiness” and dimensions of Happiness in the World Happiness Report 

    Food for Thought Question(s)

    • What motivates your climate consciousness? Have you been affected/influenced by someone/something/community, etc? What and how has it affected/influenced your belief and perspective?

    Guest Lecturer(s)

    • Kinvara Jardine Paterson, Director, World's Largest Lesson at Project Everyone
    • Jesse Thorson, Sustainability and ESG Strategist, Third Partners, LLC & Ethics in Action co-editor
    • World Happiness Report data team representative 
    • SDGs Today: overview of the dashboard and how data can be used

    Week 9: Office Hours (August 15/17)

    Gratitude Moment

    “Roses, Thorns & Buds” of my summer during this program

    Week 10: Project finalization: Global Citizenship & Happiness (August 22/24)

    Final Project Presentations!



      • Certificate of course completion. 

      • Selected students to present their research at various online international forums. 

      • StoryMaps will be shared on SDSN's SDGs Today public facing website. 


    Take a look at our past Summer Programs with SDSN's SDGs Today !


    The program offers technical workshops, webinars, guest lectures, interactive activities, and virtual office hours to teach Eco Ambassadors (students concerned with sustainability challenges) about geospatial information systems (GIS), the SDGs, and the power of storytelling. Over the summer, students apply their new skills to a research project and submit their final SDG solutions in an ArcGIS StoryMap. In September, the top three projects are featured at the International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) each year. The virtual Summer program is open to middle and high school students internationally.

    Students participating in the program should expect to: gain Knowledge about the SDGs, and engage with an enthusiastic network of scientists, policymakers, climate journalists, researchers, etc., join a network of youth to facilitate the exchange of ideas and brainstorm solutions, learn how to collect, visualize, and map data while developing storytelling methods and create lesson plans to teach their peers. Students will receive a certificate upon completion of the program.

    Explore the workshops, StoryMaps, and educational resources curated for previous programs on the SDGs Today website! https://sdgstoday.org/eco-ambassadors-program

    Twitter poster for announcing the program

    Registration for the 2023 program is now closed.

    All sessions will be made available via recording: www.youtube.com/edforsd