By Zanna Shapiro

SFC’s very own Dr. Dilyard presented at this year’s annual International Conference on Sustainable Development Conference at Columbia University.

The conference is the International Conference on Sustainable Development brought “together academics, statesmen and sustainability practitioners to share ideas and talk about how the SDGs can be achieved,” Dr. Dilyard said.

“This year’s theme is ‘Breaking Down the Silos: Fostering Collaborative Action on the SDGs’, and the conference is divided into several tracks, or sub-themes.”

Dilyard had two presentations: ‘How Food MNEs Promote Climate Change Adaptation and Agricultural Resilience Building’ is in the Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Building in Agriculture track and Laudato Si As a Framework for Sustainability Education’.

He was also was on the committee that reviewed all the submissions for that track, and will be part of a separate workshop designed to brainstorm about sustainability education.

He became interested in the field after acknowledging “that efforts to address climate change and achieve sustainability could not be done by governments alone and that the private sector would need to be involved.

“The term ‘sustainability’, though, can mean different things to governments, civil society and businesses.

“Is it about finding ways for economic growth and well being that won’t harm the planet, the environment and misuse resources, or is it about being able to sustain an existence as a company?

“The two are not really the same.  Just as with ‘being green’, some companies like to say they are ‘sustainable’ in the ‘not harming the planet’ sense but are really just worried about staying in business.”

According to Dilyard, a viable sustainable business “is one that combines the two objectives, and has found a way to essentially contribute to the greater good of the planet and society while not harming the planet and the environment.”

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were not around when I first created and taught my course on Viable Sustainable Businesses, but those, too, need private sector involvement to be achieved.  So now how a company can contribute to the SDGs has been added to the way I view viable sustainable businesses.”

“Sustainability is a natural extension of a concern about the effects of climate change; it’s all about figuring out how to make the world an overall better place”

“Now we have the SDGs, which also are all about making the world an overall better place, so I suppose you can say that my focus, probably more a passion, is about how those SDGs can be realized.”

Dr. Dilyard has an undergraduate degree in History, with a focus on African History.

He even spent his junior year of college in Ghana.

Dilyard then earned a Masters in International Development and African Studies.

He also has an MBA in Finance and spent 10 years in the financial services industry before getting a PhD in International Business.

“You can say that I’ve had a long-standing interest in how lesser developed countries can improve their economic well being.  Somewhere along the way – and I can’t pinpoint exactly where – I became aware of climate change and how it will profoundly change how economic development – not just for developing countries but for all countries – will be able to proceed,” Dilyard said.

Aside from participating in conferences, Dr. Dilyard lectures at SFC.

One of the courses he teaches is an Honors seminar at St. Francis College called Viable Sustainable Businesses.

He has “never actually owned my own business in the true sense of the word” but business runs in the family: Dilyard’s father and grandfather owned a small autobody repair shop in Wooster, Ohio and his older brother started his own oil and gas drilling company.

Several years ago, St. Francis College joined the the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a group that was developed to promote the SDGs and currently consists of over 800 institutions worldwide.

“Because education about the SDGs is so important another group, the SDG Academy, was formed to create, promote and offer free online courses that would address sustainable development-related topics.”

Dr. Dilyard incorporates this in his curriculum: “The very first course created by the SDG Academy was The Age of Sustainable Development, which I used in a freshman Honors seminar.

“Now there are more than 15 courses, with more being developed.  One of those, How to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, is being used to complement my Viable Sustainable Businesses Honors course.”

What’s unique is that the “SDG Academy created a University Partnership Program (UPP) as a way to get colleges and universities more directly involved in not only using SDG Academy content in existing courses, but also developing potential new content.

“The UPP adds just a few institutions each semester, and St. Francis College is one of the five that have been added in September.

“We will be one of the few, if not only, primarily undergraduate institutions in the UPP.  The ‘home’ for this relationship is the new Interdisciplinary Studies Program (which may become a department), and it will be exciting to see how SDG Academy content can be woven into the courses that will be housed in this new program, as well as, hopefully, courses in other disciplines,” said Dr. Dilyard.

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