On Wednesday, Nov. 13, Shady Side Academy senior Alison Linares Mendoza and juniors Nora Navid and Qingqing Zhao joined Senior School history teacher Rachel McCool and science teacher Leah Powers in attending the 49th Annual World Affairs Institute for Student Leaders, held at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
The institute, sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and Rotary International, engages high school student leaders in a discussion of key issues in international affairs so that they can understand and think critically about their world. Approximately 400 students and chaperones attended this year's seminar.
The topic for this year's institute was "What Will It Take to Achieve a Sustainable World for All?" and focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all U.N member states in 2015. The goals provide a shared framework for all nations to reach global sustainability by 2030 and focus on the three intertwined pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental.
The students heard from three keynote speakers in the morning were Dr. Joylette Portlock, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, Kimberly Kipin-McDonald, head of sustainable development (North America) for Covestro, and Grant Ervin, chief resilience officer and assistant director of the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning. The three speakers also participated in a student-moderated panel discussion and Q&A session. During the afternoon session, students broke out into groups centered around each of the 17 SDGs and worked to come up with a plan for implementation of that goal. Student leaders from each group (including Alison) presented their plans to the full Institute at the end of the day, while their ideas were illustrated in real-time by artist Emily Marko.
The students and teachers were sponsored by the Fox Chapel Rotary Club, of which retired SSA teacher Bill McConnel is the Youth Committee chair.