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A graphic of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Success in Sustainability: OSU ranked top 100 internationally for UN Sustainable Development Goals

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Media Contact: Kelli Norton | Communication Specialist | 405-744-5496 |

Oklahoma State University has been ranked among the top global universities for its contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For a third year in a row, OSU has outranked much larger universities across the U.S. and worldwide, with its overall rank of 72 among over 1,600 global universities. 
The rankings come from the fifth edition of the Times Higher Education  Impact Rankings , which assesses the ways in which universities’ research, stewardship, outreach and teaching contribute to global sustainability. Times Higher Education is a leading publisher of education related news, and developed the Impact rankings in 2019, to better reflect the role that universities can play in addressing critical global needs. OSU has ranked in the top 100 universities globally in every year that it has participated in the ranking process. 
OSU ranked seventh internationally in Zero Hunger (SDG 2), 63rd internationally in Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), 72nd internationally in Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) and 41st internationally in partnerships for the goals (SDG17). The rankings are based upon the educational, research, and outreach elements of the university.  
“The university's strategy is focused on using the expertise of our faculty, staff, and students to address the world's most pressing challenges, many of which are reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” said Dr. Jeanette Mendez, OSU senior vice president and provost. “We approach these challenges by integrating teaching, research, and outreach/extension, encouraging transdisciplinary efforts that engage people from across the OSU system.”
OSU’s highest ranking is in Zero Hunger, or global food security, where it placed 7th globally.  

“Our scientists focus on research, extension and academic programs that serve the needs of Oklahoma agriculture, food and natural resource sectors,” said Dr. Thomas Coon, vice president of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and dean of the Ferguson College of Agriculture. “Yet their impacts reach well beyond Oklahoma’s borders. It is heartening to see their impact ranking for food security continue to be in the top 10 universities evaluated from around the world.”
OSU’s commitment to international development began in the 1950s, when then-President Henry G. Bennett took a leave of absence from the university to head the Point IV program, an agency developed to develop technological capacity in foreign nations. Over the decades, the university took on a number of significant projects, including creating an agricultural university and high school in Ethiopia, development projects in Thailand, Brazil, and Bangladesh, and other projects around the world.  

"As a land-grant university, it’s our mission to solve society’s most pressing problems," OSU President Kayse Shrum said. "In October of last year, we unveiled a systemwide university strategy that focuses on the intersection of our research strengths and society’s grand challenges. Our rankings in the UN Sustainable Development Goals are a testament to the work of our faculty, staff and students to address these needs in impactful ways."
OSU’s current strategic plan calls for the university community to focus on four interdisciplinary “priority areas” — innovating to nourish the world, leading in aerospace innovation and application, enhancing human and animal health (One Health), and powering a growing world population sustainably and responsibly. 
OSU provided evidence of its sustainability commitment to nine goals with 168 separate pieces of evidence. Below are the areas upon which OSU's ranking are based:

SDG 2- Zero Hunger

7th internationally

The zero hunger ranking measures universities’ research on hunger, their teaching on food sustainability, and their dedication to ending food waste and world hunger on campus and in local communities. 

SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation  

63rd internationally 

The clean water and sanitation ranking measures universities’ research related to water, their water usage and their commitment to ensuring good water management in the broader community. 

SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

72nd internationally

The sustainable cities and communities ranking measures universities’ research on sustainability, their role as custodians of arts and heritage and their internal approaches to sustainability. 

SDG 17- Partnership for the Goals

41st internationally

The partnerships for the goals ranking look at the broader ways universities support the SDGs through collaboration with other countries, promotion of best practices and publication of data.

Story By: Kelli Leech | Graduate Assistant |

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