Date: Summer 2021

The 2020 summer school has been postponed.

Location: University of York campus

Maximum number of students: 24

Fees: TBC

Theme: The World’s Big Problems and How to Influence the Solutions

Arguably more than any year previously, the past year has seen global figures speak out about the greatest challenges the world faces. Politicians, business leaders and academics have had to become increasingly skilled in influencing change on a global platform.

As a student of a Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) - member university, you may be aware of the groundbreaking research that your institution is doing to support the UN’s agenda on sustainable development. In celebration of the excellence around the network, this course will give you an opportunity to collaborate with students of fellow WUN partner universities, to learn about the challenges that academics across the world unite to tackle.

This course will help you to appreciate the complexities of global challenges and learn how world-leading academics from a range of disciplines - spanning the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities - are working together to find solutions.

As an aspiring leader, this course will help you to develop the skills you need to help influence institutions to act in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals, whether your career aspirations lie in academia, policymaking and multilateral organisations, or the private sector.

Contact us

Centre for Global Programmes
+44 (0) 1904 322846

Course content

Each day will have a keynote talk followed by a seminar-style discussion of the key issues raised. The afternoons will comprise workshop-style skills sessions focusing on leadership and influencing. The theory and practice will be followed by practical application of these skills in industry, policy and academic arenas.

Adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, the SDGs provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. Collectively, the 17 goals are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Forming the backbone of the programme, keynote talks on the issues surrounding the SDGs will be delivered by leading academics. Topics could include:

  • Marine Conservation and Ocean Plastics
  • Global Food Systems
  • Access to Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Health Inequality
  • Climate Change
  • Justice and Strong Institutions

These keynotes will provide you with an introduction to the work of our leading academics, and highlight the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to answering the world’s greatest challenges.

Seminars and small group discussions will follow from keynotes, and provide you with the opportunity to discuss issues raised, and explore interdisciplinary solutions in greater detail.

Complementing the keynotes and discussions in the first week of the programme, afternoon workshops will equip you with the necessary skills to influence others and coordinate meaningful global action for the SDGs. To this end there will be individual sessions on:

  • the theory and practice of persuasive communications
  • the theory and practice of leadership
  • the intercultural dimension of leadership and influence
  • the use of social media to engage in debate around the SDGs.

Then there will be a workshop on how to engage industry in the SDGs, as well as a lecture on the importance of ethical and considerate research delivered by an industry specialist. Finally, students will hear from a member of the UK Parliament on their experience of influencing policy around sustainable development. Rachael Maskell, MP for York, will be invited, as on previous occasions, to discuss her campaigning work in the environment in her Shadow Cabinet role.

Tying the programme together, a central project running throughout the programme will provide you with the means to reflect in-depth upon the input, and to synthesise and apply new learning gained. Working in small groups, you will examine in detail one SDG and present your findings via a short Ted Talk-style presentation. There will be a competitive element as the audience, which will be split into academic, industry and government, will then be invited to rate how well the groups managed to influence them.

To bring learning to life, the timetable will include a series of visits which will allow you to experience how local organisations are championing sustainability. The weekend of the 18 and 19 July will include a visit to the Yorkshire coast and opportunities for you to experience the historic city of York, regularly voted one of the best places to live in the UK.

The course fee is £1,600 and includes:

  • a full timetable of lectures by guest speakers, skill sessions and seminars (all teaching materials are included)
  • timetabled trips including transport and entry fees
  • welcome pack
  • access to pre-course website, wifi, email and library
  • accommodation in single study bedroom with access to equipped kitchen, including bedding and weekly clean
  • £100 YCL vouchers (can be redeemed in campus eateries or in exchange for goods in the campus supermarkets)
  • a social programme, including welcome and farewell parties
  • support from student social organisers who can advise on organising independent travel and places to visit in your spare time
  • welfare support and access to university emergency and security services
  • access to fitness centre and free one-day introduction voucher
  • end of course photo and certificate.

Participants are responsible for their round-trip international airfare, travel from a UK airport to York, travel insurance, personal expenses and any visa costs.

We advise participants not to book flights until they have confirmed their place on the summer school by paying the programme fee.

For further details about refunds please see the Terms and Conditions.

You should enquire with the WUN Coordinator at your own university if there are any additional bursaries available to you.

There is limited funding available from the WUN for students with particular financial needs; this will be allocated based on set criteria using the information you provide in your application form.

There is one full programme fee waiver available for a York student. Any other successful York applicants (who are not awarded the full programme fee waiver) will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is therefore important to include as much information as possible about the reasons for requesting additional funding in your application.

Important dates


Key information

30 March 2020

Initial application deadline for students

The deadline for this application is 5pm GMT.

There may be several applications from one university; if this is the case, the WUN Coordinator will consider your application against other applicants from your university, based on your statement of interest.

During this time your application will also be considered for additional funding.

6 to 27 April 2020

Applications and bursary requests considered in consultation with Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Coordinators

The WUN has a discrete amount of funds available; you should enquire with your own university WUN Coordinator if there are any additional bursaries available to you.

There may be several applications from one university; if this is the case, your application will be considered against other applicants from your university, based on your statement of interest.

1 May 2020

York administrators notify applicants if they have been successful

Successful applicants register for programme with University of York

You will be sent an online registration form to secure your place on the programme; by completing this form, you confirm your intention to attend. 

You will be notified how much scholarship/bursary has been awarded to you.

If the course is oversubscribed, there will be a waiting list.

15 May 2020

Deadline for paying programme fee

Successful applicants have a 14-day cooling off period after payment (this is a period of time following a purchase when you may choose to cancel your place on the programme and receive a full fee refund).

During the application you will be asked about:

  • how you plan to fund your place on the programme
  • how you will benefit from attendance at the programme personally, academically and professionally
  • what you might do to prepare for the challenges you may face whilst participating in the programme.

Please apply here

This programme is open exclusively to undergraduate students from WUN Partner universities who are in their penultimate year of studies.

If you're unsure whether your university is a partner, please see the WUN members' web page.

Recognising that tackling the Sustainable Development Goals involves cooperation from across the disciplines, this course is open to students studying any subject.

Students will be participating in lively discussions; as a guideline, a minimum of CEFR C1 or IELTS 6 is recommended.

For general queries about the summer school, please contact

For information specific to your university, including whether any travel bursaries or scholarships are available towards attendance at the programme, please contact your university’s WUN Coordinator.

Please read these terms and conditions carefully before applying for any of our programmes. You should understand that by applying for any of our programmes you agree to be bound by this contract.

WUN Summer School - Terms and Conditions (MS Word , 22kb)

Contact us

Centre for Global Programmes
+44 (0) 1904 322846