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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 in our latest Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report. They are shared below to illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit

Sustainable Development Goals Logo


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 research developments, with a minimum of 13 faculty members conducting research from 2019 to 2021 that focus on issues related to humanizing and equitable practices in schools, group therapy and classroom education, teacher development, sense of community and place, and writing to connect expert and non-expert communities. Auburn University’s strategic plan outlines the 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 our most recent Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report  for an overview of Auburn’s contributions to all the SDGs.

Actions at Auburn

Housed in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling, the EAGLES Program, or Education to Accomplish Growth in Life Experiences for Success, is a two-year  or four-year, comprehensive, transition program for students with intellectual disabilities. The EAGLES Program has the primary goals of promoting academic achievement, developing social skill sets, fostering independent thinking and living, maintaining quality physical and mental health, and integrating work opportunities with anticipated transition to a four-year undergraduate degree upon program completion. Students have the support of a WINGS peer, a Warmhearted Individual Nurturing Great Success, to help them navigate various experiences at Auburn University. For the first time in 2020, six EAGLES students participated in Greek Life recruitment, paving the way for future participants that may wish to join Greek life.

Image of EAGLES Program students and facility on Samford Lawn
image of a teacher leading class

FOUN 3000: Diversity of Learners and Settings includes the exploration of how socio-political factors and students’ diverse identities shape their experiences and opportunities in educational settings and society, with a focus on the interaction between schooling and inequity. The course also includes a service-learning requirement composed of community-based discovery learning that connects theory and application in a local agency or service center. Diversity of Learners and Settings equips students to better understand learners from different cultural backgrounds, abilities, and values and helps educators kindle a safe and healthy learning environment.

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
Opelika Grows logo

Opelika Grows (O Grows) is a renowned community garden and outreach and research program that partners with Auburn University to meet the needs of a local community. O Grow’s mission is to create “sustainable community- based food systems, where communities work to create shared values in meeting food needs of all residents in a matter that is economically, socially, and environmentally viable for future generations.” O Grows supports youth programs at six local schools and conducts a daily food systems class at the Opelika Learning Center to teach practical skills on gardening, sustainable production, and community involvement. O Grows also invites youth from the Lee County Department of Juvenile Probation to complete their community service hours by learning about sustainable food systems.

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.

man in prison painting mural: Photo courtesy of 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

Public Engagement Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG1, SDG11, SDG12, SDG16, SDG17, SDG4, SDG8, STARS | No Comments
By Randy Martin & Bella Wright It is no secret that the city of Auburn revolves around the university. If you’ve ever been to a football game, you know that the entire town comes to a standstill as the Tigers battle it out on the field. Whether you attend the…

Sustainability Picnic 2023

| Events, SDG12, SDG3, SDG4 | No Comments
By Hannah Schwartz A student holds a snake after grabbing some fresh flowers. Auburn University’s Sustainability Picnic returned this year for another incredible event with locally-sourced food, live music, and countless involvement opportunities. Over 330 students attended and were able to visit with other students as well as resources, clubs,…

Campus Changemaker: Charlie Gordon

| SDG11, SDG2, SDG4, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Bella Wright Charlie Gordon As the Service Program Coordinator for the Office of Involvement and Student Affairs at Auburn University, Charlie Gordon dedicates his time to serving students and the Auburn/Opelika community. Through the Beat Bama Food Drive, AU Dance Marathon, and the Student Impact program, Charlie promotes community,…

Museums as Spaces for Building Connections

| Guest Posts, SDG4 | No Comments
By Randi Evans A shift has been taking place among museums in the United States since the racial reckoning of 2020 and the onset of Covid-19. The number of articles written between 2020 and the present chronicle the way museums – often considered stodgy, slow-moving institutions – have worked to…

Campus Changemaker: Karen McNeal

| SDG13, SDG15, SDG16, SDG4, Sustainability in Action, Updates | No Comments
Karen on a hike with her family By Camille Colter, Office of Sustainability Karen McNeal is a professor of Geosciences within the College of Sciences and Mathematics, hired as one of the first disciple-based education researchers (DBERs). DBERs conduct nontraditional disciplinary research on education. Karen’s work focuses on understanding how…

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