Higher Education and the SDGs Challenge Grantees 2022

Coloured cards rest on wooden surface displaying Social Development Goals

Now entering its first year, the Higher Education and the SDGs Challenge Grants are available for staff at ACU member universities to fund collaborative work that promotes the aims and priorities of our Higher Education and the SDGs Network. Our Challenge Grantees will organise a wide range of projects, workshops and events to help support the SDGs agenda in their institutions. Meet this year's grantees and discover more about their project plans below. 

Meet our Grantees


Dr Mary Makokha

Dr Mary Makokha

Kenyatta University, Kenya

Dr Mary Makokha specialises in hydrology and water resource management within the frameworks of climate change, Vision 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals and Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda.

In Kenya, dryland makes up over 80% of the country, and Dr Makokha will engage dry-land stakeholders to establish vulnerability, adaptive capacity, and the effectiveness of government-led climate change measures in protecting dry-land ecosystems. This will be in collaboration with Raphael Kioko of the ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands) stakeholder forum in Kenya.

The project aims to empower women, who control less than 2% of the land despite providing households with 80% of their food.

Dr Horas Wong

Dr Horas Wong

University of Sydney, Australia

Dr Wong specialises in conducting participatory research with, and for, socially marginalised communities. Dr Wong aims to use the grant to co-develop a package of teaching resources on sexual and reproductive health that can be used in nursing and social work curricula.

The project aims to facilitate sustainable, international collaboration between the nursing and social work professions. Dr Wong applied for the Challenge Grant in collaboration with Dr Jialiang Cui from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Chiranthi Senanayake

Chiranthi Senanayake

Horizon Campus, Sri Lanka

Chiranthi Senanayake is a lecturer in the law faculty at Horizon Campus Sri Lanka. She specialises in alternative legal and development thinking in the Global South. Through the Challenge Grant, Chiranthi aims to organise the first South Asian conference on higher legal education and sustainable development.

The conference aims to foster research and teaching collaboration to integrate sustainable development into the legal education and research sectors of South Asia. Chiranthi aims to achieve this by linking educators, practitioners and experts on legal education, legal policy and sustainable development.

Dr Cynthia Nwobodo

Dr Cynthia Nwobodo

University of Nigeria

Dr Nwobodo is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Extension. She specialises in research for impact focused on climate change and rural livelihoods. She plans to use the Challenge Grant to bring the results of climate change research to rural farming communities, working with Dr Chinwoke Ifeanyi-Obi, a climate change extension expert, and a field extension worker.

The project aims to train fourth-year (farm year) students on the production practices of drought-tolerant cucumber and watermelon varieties, as well as developing their skills for climate change extension outreach.

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Dr Jennifer O’Brien

University of Manchester, UK

Dr O’Brien is Academic Lead for Sustainability Teaching and Learning at the University of Manchester, and Education Lead for Sustainable Futures. She believes that students are a huge force for sustainable development. This ACU grant will develop UoM's University Living Lab with global partners.

The University Living Lab links organisations, who need insights from applied research to affect institutional sustainable development, with students. Students can help affect change while enhancing their employability through working on University Living Lab projects as part of their degree assessment.