Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

When the United Nations developed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, it aimed to tackle some of the most pressing global challenges by developing a framework to be used by countries and organizations around the world. As a global leader in project-based learning, WPI’s strategic and significant history of SDG-focused research established the university as a recognized early leader in using technology and innovation to advance social good. For more than 50 years, WPI students have worked with communities to address global issues in local areas around the world.

Segmented into 17 different goals around areas such as poverty, hunger, water, peace and justice, and climate, the SDGs provide a roadmap for society to work together and improve living conditions and ecosystems around the world. WPI takes a university-wide, interdisciplinary approach to the SDGs through targeted and purpose-driven research, student and faculty projects and academic programming, campus activities, and community partnerships. 


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clear plastic bottles with one green plastic bottle on a rack facing each other for SDG work

Key Participants

  • The Global School offers distinctive interdisciplinary programs that immerse students in purpose-driven global learning and collaboration.
  • Sustainability at WPI is an approach woven into the way the university operates. 
  • WPI's Office of Sustainability oversees initiatives and projects that include and promote sustainability on campus.
  • The Gordon Library has extensive expertise, resources, and institutional knowledge about SDGs at WPI.


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Globally Renowned Experts

Because the SDGs can be affiliated with many disciplines, WPI’s list of experts on SDG work is extensive and multidisciplinary. Here are some of the  faculty and staff who work closely on SDG goals

Faculty members who work on particular SDGs can also be found in WPI’s Interdisciplinary Research database.



SDG Curriculum Choices

From humanitarian engineering to plant diversity to architectural engineering, WPI’s courses offer students diverse approaches to the SDGs. The depth and breadth of courses that touch on SDG work lets students choose an academic path that fits their particular interests and career goals. 

Look at the different WPI courses that apply to SDG work.  



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Project Work Highlights SDGs from the First Year

WPI offers many opportunities to work on interdisciplinary projects related to SDGs in which students and faculty integrate technical and social science methods.. Starting with the Great Problems Seminar (GPS) in the first year, students conduct research focusing on critical global issues that relate to the sustainable development goals. That focus continues with WPI’s distinctive Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) where students teams work on hands-on community-based research in communities locally and in more than 30 countries around the world. Students also work on SDGs in their professional-level design or research experiences in WPI’s  Major Qualifying Projects (MQP) as well as in graduate level research.

Read more about SDG-focused IQPs, SDG-focused MQPs, and SDG-focused GPS posters (to get to the correct SDG, once on the page, scroll down to left side header “UN SDG” and then select the SDG to filter to).

Sustainability Project Showcase

WPI’s long-running Sustainability Project Showcase highlights how the WPI community is contributing to a sustainable future. These student projects address environmental, social, and/or economic themes that relate to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Find out more about the virtual Sustainability Project Showcase.

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Preview a man holding a small robotic bee with a fake sunflower

Robo Bees Address Climate Change, Food Production

Crops need bees to pollinate flowers to produce food, but climate change and a reduction in global bee populations is posing a threat to crops and food production. WPI robotics engineering researchers are tackling this problem with an alternative solution—tiny robot bees that can help boost the work of the bees. 

Preview Boynton Hall view with spring flowering trees

New Initiative Offers Resources

Scientists, policy researchers, humanists, engineers, and STEM educators around the globe often work on the same SDGs and building connections will only advance their research. WPI and De Gruyter are launching The Integrated Global STEM Publishing and Education Initiative to foster those connections, combine needed resources, and prompt action.

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WPI’s SDG Self-Study Report 

To understand the university’s progress on making a contribution to the global SDGs, WPI assessed the biggest internal contributions, which SDGs spark the highest interest, and where more work is needed. In the resulting benchmarking SDG Self-Study Report, the university chose to highlight these five SDGs:

  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12: Responsible Production and Consumption
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Read more about WPI’s SDG Self-Study Report.

Affilated Programs

Many WPI programs prepare students and researchers to contribute to addressing the UN SDGs. In addition to the affiliated programs below, WPI’s other departments and programs make significant contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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