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RCE Greater Atlanta Officially Acknowledged by the United Nations University Share a Spelman College Press Release

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For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:
Spelman College

Audrey Arthur

Emory University
Elaine Justice

Georgia Institute of Technology
Lance Wallace

Sustainability GlobeATLANTA (February 15, 2018) -- The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) has officially acknowledged a new regional sustainability network, RCE Greater Atlanta. RCEs are Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. The designation makes Atlanta one of only six Regional Centres of Expertise in the U.S.

Atlanta was selected by the Ubuntu Committee of Peers for the RCEs, which met in Okayama, Japan, late last year to review 14 different applications from all over the world. RCE Greater Atlanta was informed this month of its selection.

Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Spelman College are leading the RCE Greater Atlanta for the first two years. Other higher education institutions collaborating on the RCE include Agnes Scott College, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Morehouse College and University of Georgia.

The RCE Greater Atlanta is a network of multidisciplinary stakeholders, including higher education institutions, businesses, non-governmental organizations, community associations, and local, regional, state and federal government. All RCE partners are committed to implementing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the local level, specifically the following, deemed to be priority for the Greater Atlanta region:

•    SDG 1: No Poverty
•    SDG 2: Zero Hunger
•    SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
•    SDG 4: Quality Education
•    SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
•    SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
•    SDG 13: Climate Action

“RCE Greater Atlanta is a realization that the time is right to bring together the region’s knowledge and expertise on a broader scale for a comprehensive approach to education for sustainable development,” said Ciannat Howett, director of Sustainability Initiatives at Emory University. “We envision a robust and engaged network of partners working to accelerate solutions to sustainability issues."                                                           

“Georgia Tech is honored to be one of the founding leaders of this new regional sustainability network,” said Jennifer Hirsch, director of the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain and adjunct associate professor of city and regional planning at Georgia Tech. “We expect it to facilitate important university-community partnerships that will benefit students, faculty and the region as a whole and make Greater Atlanta a leader in Education for Sustainable Development. Being a part of a global network of RCEs will also keep us on the cutting edge of sustainability innovation.”

"Spelman’s historical mission of promoting ethical leadership and commitment to positive social change is very much in line with the goals of achieving social justice, protecting the planet, ending poverty and ensuring prosperity for all as articulated in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Fatemeh Shafiei, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of political science and director of environmental studies at Spelman. “Establishment of the RCE Greater Atlanta helps Spelman to further advance this ambitious global roadmap and adjust our course toward the future we want for all."

The RCE Greater Atlanta has already developed preliminary strategies and activities, a result of months of research and conversations. Planning and execution of all RCE Greater Atlanta activities will use a network structure, relying on members’ contributions of time and talents, with anchor educational institutions at the hub of the network.

Among the network’s early initiatives will be establishing a structure for rotating leadership, integrating new partners, data analysis and launching working groups and training.

Also early on, an RCE Youth Network will be established with a cohort of approximately 20 student leaders representing at least six institutions already engaged in an Atlanta Student Sustainability Council. The RCE Youth Network will establish its own roles and responsibilities and serve as an important connection to youth leadership in sustainability around the region.

Currently, 157 RCEs have been acknowledged worldwide by the United Nations University. The Global RCE network brings together multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary members who might not otherwise work together to help create solutions to sustainability challenges through dialogue, education and learning. The Global RCE Service Centre, headquartered at the UNU-IAS in Tokyo, Japan, provides assistance to individual RCEs and facilitates their communication and networking. More information is available here.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit

About Emory University
Emory University ( is known for its demanding academics, outstanding undergraduate experience, highly ranked professional schools and state-of-the-art research facilities. Emory encompasses nine academic divisions as well as the Michael C. Carlos Museum, The Carter Center, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Healthcare, Georgia’s largest and most comprehensive health care system.

About Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as Georgia Tech, is one of the nation’s leading research universities — a university that embraces change while continually creating the next. The next generation of leaders. The next breakthrough startup company. The next life-saving medical treatment.

Georgia Tech provides a focused, technologically based education to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Georgia Tech has many nationally recognized programs, all top-ranked by peers and publications alike, and is ranked in the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News and World Report. It offers degrees through the Colleges of Computing, Design, Engineering, Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech has more than 100 centers focused on interdisciplinary research that consistently contribute vital research and innovation to American government, industry, and business.


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