ECU rises to challenge in social, economic impact ranking

East Carolina University has been ranked by the Times Higher Education (THE) in its assessment of the social and economic impact of universities based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The 2020 THE Impact Rankings, released April 22, ranked universities across the world on 17 SDG goals aimed at addressing global challenges ranging from poverty and hunger to inequality and sustainability.

Institutions were asked to respond via survey to as many questions as possible for each goal.

ECU has been ranked for its social and economic impact on U.N. sustainability development goals by the Times Higher Education.

ECU has been ranked for its social and economic impact on U.N. sustainability development goals by the Times Higher Education. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

ECU responded to nine of the 17 goals and was ranked in the top 75% of institutions on almost all. The number of universities responding to those nine goals ranged from 242 to 620, depending upon the goal.

ECU was in the top 30% of institutions ranked in a goal called Life Below Water. Metrics assessed for the goal include research on life below water, support of aquatic ecosystems through education and action, water sensitive waste disposal, and maintenance of a local ecosystem.

ECU also placed in the top 50% of institutions ranked on two other goals: Good Health and Well-being; and Responsible Consumption and Production.

Benchmarks for Good Health and Well-being included research on health and well-being, the number of students graduating in health professions, and collaborations with health services.

The Responsible Consumption and Production goal was measured on research about responsible consumption and production, policies related to waste disposal and plastic use, proportion of recycled waste, and publication of a sustainability report.

The methodology used for the rankings, according to THE, included metrics based on all 17 goals across three broad areas: research, outreach and stewardship.

The SDG goals are: 1. No poverty; 2. Zero hunger; 3. Good health and well-being; 4. Quality education; 5. Gender equality; 6. Clean water and sanitation; 7. Affordable and clean energy; 8. Decent work and economic growth; 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure; 10. Reduced inequalities; 11. Sustainable cities and communities; 12. Responsible consumption and production; 13. Climate action; 14. Life below water; 15. Life on land; 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions; and 17. Partnerships for the goals.

SDG 17 was the only required goal for inclusion in the overall rankings.

A university’s final score was calculated by combining its score in SDG 17 with its top three scores in the remaining goals. SDG 17 accounts for 22% of the overall score, while the other SDGs each carry a weight of 26%. This means that different universities are scored based on a different set of SDGs, depending on their focus, according to the THE website.

ECU was one of 766 schools from 85 nations and regions that participated in data collection for the 2020 rankings.

THE is based in London and produces a weekly magazine, reporting specifically on news and issues related to higher education.


-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services