Ensuring inclusive & equitable quality education & promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all is the purpose of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). This goal strives to provide equal access; ensure literacy, numeracy, & skills; & develop qualified teachers & safe schools.

Actions, stories, & resources related to SDG 4: Quality Education as told in the 2021 Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report, and then expanded on below, illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit


Quality education is inclusive of all learners and promotes lifelong learning. Education holds the key to higher quality of life, not only because of education’s ability to eradicate poverty but also because of the empowering nature of quality education. Adequate infrastructure and teacher training are necessary for the actualization of quality education, both of which are obstacles to education in the developing world, rural areas, and impoverished communities.

Auburn University engages with Goal 4 to a lesser degree than other SDGs. Goal 4 is best represented in Auburn University’s course offerings, with a minimum of 8 courses offered from 2016 to 2018 that focus on issues related to education accessibility, inclusion, and efficacy along the lifetime of diverse learners. Auburn University’s strategic plan outlines Auburn University’s goal to “increase access to educational opportunities and lifelong learning across the State, especially in underserved communities.” Auburn University has high outreach potential, which can be utilized for the promotion of quality education on many levels.

View the 2021 report titled Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for an overview of Auburn’s contributions to all the SDGs.

Actions at Auburn

The Adult Education (ADED) program in the College of Education serves Auburn University, the city of Auburn, the State of Alabama, and communities around the world by providing quality education that develops and prepares adults to build strong communities and solve everyday problems. ADED students represent academia, individual communities, and industry. They seek to improve the world around them through increased innovation, improved economic sustainability, and a more equitable society. Program faculty and staff work to build partnerships, lead in community improvement, and provide for the personal and collective empowerment of those whom they serve.

Adult Education Class SDG 4: Photo courtesy of Charles A. Meyer
man in prison painting mural: Photo courtesy of College of Architecture, Design, and Construction

The Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project (APAEP) provides quality educational opportunities for people incarcerated in Alabama prisons. Incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to participate in arts and science courses, and those that meet Auburn University’s academic standards are able to earn college credit. APAEP has reached 3,650 students through 243 classes, ensuring quality educational opportunities that are meaningful and empowering. One APAEP student said of his experience, “What I remember clearest about that first APAEP class I took is… the light which appeared in some of my classmates’ eyes… as they accomplished something meaningful for the first time in their lives.” APAEP is housed in the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction.

In her book, Leadership for Green Schools, College of Education’s Lisa Kensler provides aspiring and practicing leaders with the tools they need to facilitate the design, leadership, and management of greener, more sustainable schools. This publication uses illustrative examples of successful schools and leaders to show how establishing and managing green schools aligns with the work they are already doing to restore engaged learning within their schools and communities. Leadership for Green Schools helps education leadership immerse students in purposeful, meaningful learning for a sustainable, just future.

Lisa Kensler with Sustainability Award

People & Stories

Campus Changemaker: Becki Retzlaff

| SDG4, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Grace Reilein. When was the last time you rode a bike to work? Yesterday? Every day this week? How about for the last 25 years? Becki Retzlaff falls in that final group, and as the newest Director of the Academic Sustainability Program, it could not be more fitting. Becki…

Students & Alumni Build Community with the Sustainability Auburn Alumni Affiliate Group

| Guest Posts, SDG17, SDG4, Sustainability Auburn Alumni Affiliate | No Comments
By Kaitlin Robb Price. Communities can provide both human connection and a strong force for change. In sustainability, both are critically important. At times working in the field of sustainability can be challenging, but hearing the work of others and the progress we’re making can be uplifting. And with strength…

Auburn’s Leadership in Sustainability in Academics: Evidence from the STARS Rating System

| Guest Posts, SDG17, SDG4 | No Comments
By Becki Retzlaff. Many students choose to study at Auburn because it is a big school that can provide many different opportunities for a wide variety of interests. As the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) attests, one of those opportunities for students is to learn about sustainability from…

Climate Change 2021 & a “Quality Education”

| Director's Corner, SDG, SDG13, SDG4, SDG7 | No Comments
By Mike Kensler. For September, this column continues our tour of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this month focusing on SDG 4: Quality Education. Sort of. As I write this in late August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its Sixth Assessment Report, also…

How Auburn University & Higher Education Can Address Quality Education

| Guest Posts, SDG, SDG11, SDG4 | No Comments
By Miriam Wyman. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Quality Education recognizes the need to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”  Quality Education is also highlighted under the U.S. Chapter of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)’s vision for achieving the SDGs through “facilitating…

Explore the SDGs & AU