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UNF selected to join the United Nations Academic Impact

United Nations students standing under a row of flagsThe University of North Florida has recently been named a member of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), an initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the principles of the United Nations. UNF is one of only two schools in the State University System and one of only eight colleges/universities in Florida that are UNAI members.

UNF joins 1,400 institutions in 139 countries who comprise UNAI membership and are working together with the United Nations to promote global priorities, including the promotion and protection of human rights, access to education, sustainability and conflict resolution.

“Joining UNAI is a significant achievement for UNF as the United Nations is recognizing the many initiatives that the University has undertaken to address issues of global importance,” said Dr. Josh Gellers, UNF associate professor in Political Science and Public Administration. “UNF is pioneering the way in providing educational resources for many modern challenges that are facing humanity.”

UNAI aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in supporting and contributing, through research and education, to UN’s Academic Impact Principles. UNF’s activities were recognized in the key principles of education for all, global citizenship, intercultural dialogue and sustainability. 

Education for All

UNF’s College of Education and Human Services recently received a $1.6 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support innovative teacher preparation models to prepare new teachers to serve students in high-need schools. In collaboration with Duval County Public Schools, goals of this grant include increasing the number of teachers certified to teach high need subjects/grades and increasing retention of highly effective teachers in high-need schools/subjects to ultimately provide K-12 students who are underrepresented in the STEM fields with access to teachers who are well-prepared with 21st century skills.

Global Citizenship

UNF’s Brooks College of Health advances global citizenship through its Strategic Global Initiatives Committee, a public health partnership with Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg that allows their graduate students to enroll in UNF’s Global Health Certificate as part of their program, and a study abroad program focused on experiential learning in global citizenship and international humanitarian law with site visits (i.e. World Food Programme, World Health Organization, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), interactive lectures (i.e. Lyon Universite II, American University of Paris), and an international crisis management exercise on disaster management in the developing world.

Intercultural Dialogue

UNF’s Hicks Honors College provides for intercultural dialogue as the 200 incoming freshmen each year who take the Honors Colloquium class engage in diversity activities and reflection, as well as service hours, to support the local refugee community. In addition, 20 of these students deepen their experience through a writing class co-taught with a class of international students to engage in intensive dialogue building on those earlier experiences. Another 20 students take a different writing class that asks them to rethink their “diversity activities” from multiple perspectives over the course of the semester.


UNF’s Environmental Center has many activities that promote sustainability. These include sponsoring the Jacksonville Environmental Symposium, an annual event with numerous organizations discussing best practices in sustainability; offering Seed Grants or externally funded grants designed to provide financial support for faculty working on environmental and sustainability issues; and organizing and funding the Environmental Center Leadership Program (ECLP), a co-curricular, merit-based scholarship program that cultivates a pipeline of environmental leaders in the region. The ECLP allows project leaders to create and implement a community project that addresses an environmental and/or social injustice issue such as eliminating food waste and food deserts as well as educating school children about the impacts of microplastics and other plastic pollution.

UNAI disseminates information on UN initiatives and activities, providing ideas on how these activities can be applied at the local level on college campuses and in classrooms, and bounding the educational institutions with the United Nations in a shared culture of intellectual social responsibility.