FAS PR students bring forth awareness on SDGs

A virtual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Campaign was recently launched with its first event falling on 13 March 2021 and the last on 2 April 2021. The event was organised by UTAR Bachelor of Communication (Honours) Public Relations (PR) undergraduates, earlier this year during the January Trimester.

With the focus on United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the campaign was established to modify education for sustainable development to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed for key societal issues. The campaign was participated by representatives of local businesses, non-profit bodies, educational institutions, as well as artists, musicians and students from local primary schools and universities.

In a massive effort to gather the community to create awareness and drive the nation towards the achievement of SDGs, the campaign featured 10 different sub-projects that emphasised four different specific goals with a mixture of activities with different SDGs to expose participants to a range of issues through simple yet fascinating experiences. The activities included SDGs such as Good Health and Well-being, Clean Water and Sanitation, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Climate Action to sustain their activities, to contribute to society as well as to raise awareness of different issues. The campaign involved sub-projects with different focuses of SDGs followed by categories of acts which included food and drinks, clothes, and conserving resources to incorporate sustainability into people’s daily lives to a point where it is easily embedded into everyday choices.

PR undergraduates of CSR Campaign January Trimester 2021

CSR Campaign Main Director Chong Qiao Lin said, “In this age of the Covid-19 pandemic, our campaign made it to be the very first CSR campaign that was fully held online. In this regard, not only the students modified the executions out of the box, but also leverage of socially responsible actions was indulged through this campaign with even heavier digital monitoring compared to previous projects.”

“I believe that by witnessing CSR practices shifting to online mode could result in a better enhancement in terms of giving out and receiving the related education to the community. As a matter of fact, the pandemic has actually driven a new framework to CSR practices and fundamentally adjusted the whole social changes. Viewing from a student’s perspective, it eventually constitutes a new cultural legacy of the new CSR-era, bringing the university’s project organisation to a whole new level,” Chong said. 

According to Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FAS) Department of Public Relations lecturer-cum-campaign advisor Diong Fong Wei, the goal of the event was to bring ideas from education by bringing out awareness and building a degree of comprehension of SGDs not only among the university students but also the members of our society.

Diong has been leading PR undergraduates in CSR projects since 2019. “It was such a memorable journey to work with these many community organisations and businesses who made our campaign possible. The students and I have learnt so much from the vision of the localisation of SDGs and the roles it stands in the long-term transformation pathways in this era of sustainable development,” said Diong.

She added, “On a side note, I must say this batch of undergraduates amazed me with their successful hard work along with the two-month preparation. It is impressive to see how they pushed themselves to the edge of comfort zones and off their limits doing things in a different way when everything had to be done online in these trying times. It has made the point clear that experiential learning is expanding students’ capacity by developing soft skills from their growth in the effort, besides academic knowledge.”

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

Five sub-projects have developed acts aligned with SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being.

Group 2 organised a talk titled “How Much Do You Know about UTAR Hospital Project?”. They invited Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) UTAR Hospital Project Chief Administrative Officer Chor Choy Yook to introduce UTAR’s non-profit hospital.

Chor said, “The objective of setting up the hospital is to be the preferred hospital of excellence in providing holistic healthcare. We hope that it is the best option for clinical training for students and medical specialists as well.” She also introduced the integration of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) with Western Medicine by UTAR Hospital.

Under the same SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being, Group 4’s interaction event “We Might Stay Apart, But We Are Close in Our Heart” was held for stress-relief and bonding purposes. A number of performances filled with emotion, inspiration, humour and passion were performed by the university’s lecturers and students.

Group 2’s invited guest Chor sharing the vision of UTAR Hospital

In line with SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being, Group 6 organised an online performance session called “Beautiful Gate & Beautiful Us” by inviting Malaysia’s non-profit foundations Beautiful Gate Educational Centre for the Disabled and Beautiful Gate Arts Centre Foundation for the Disabled as their guests to share the happiness prior to the wellness of disabled people.

Group 9’s “Pink Alert” was a breast cancer awareness project. They invited University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon-cum-University Malaya senior lecturer Assoc Prof Dr See Mee Hoong to conduct a sharing session on the awareness of breast cancer.

Group 10, on the other hand, introduced vaccination awareness for their session titled “Vaccination Saves Lives”. The group invited Dr Paneerselvam Thanggiah, a resident doctor to share the bigger picture of the vaccination process in the country.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation & SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Group 5’s “Project 71” embedded SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation with its social media activity aligned to the conservation of water resources. Moreover, a sharing session on water sustainability by non-government organisation Water Watch Penang Executive Manager Dr Hong Chern Wern was also held.

“The mission to create a water-saving society is not done yet and there is still a lot to be continued. We hope that through the launch of this online CSR project, our group can play the role as the student groups continue to contribute to environmental sustainability to conserve water resources this time,” said Dr Hong.

Dr Hong (third row, most left) with Group 5

In line with SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Group 3’s “Let’s End Food Waste” targeted on daily food wastage issues. A webinar was organised in collaboration with guest speaker Philip Dodd from Education Team of The Lost Food Project (TLFP) as well as the outreach team from TLFP.

In his speech, Philip Dodd stated that fresh food is the biggest contributor to food waste. “There are 820 million malnourished people in the world today, and they do not have enough food for a balanced diet hence they suffer from hunger due to poverty. Now, we have to raise this issue and be responsible for our food to minimise the waste that we make out of them.”

Also, Group 8’s “Trashion”helda general waste-recycling fashion show by promoting waste management with the assistance of the invited guest speaker, Dr Ng Chee Guan from the Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences of Universiti Malaya.

SDG 13: Climate Action

Also, taking the “going green” initiative one step further, SDG 13: Climate Action was in line with Group 1’s “I Pledge, I Act, I Save”event which focused on carbon emission issues. It also assisted four local primary schools in their daily practices to a carbon-free environment.

The invited speaker was Board Member of Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Centre (MGTC) Dato’ Leong Kin Mun, who spoke on the theme ‘Building Low Carbon Metropolis’ with a social media challenge.

In conjunction with SDG 13: Climate Action, Group 7’s “Edge of Tomorrow: 17 Steps Away”introduced a virtual exhibition on UN’s agenda 17 SDGs. Assistant Secretary of UTAR Sustainable Development Society DK Hanis was invited to share insights that revolved around students’ and youth’s perspectives.

Group 1 members and Dato’ Leong discussing issues on carbon emission

In addition to that, an energy conservation session, in conjunction with Earth Hour, was held with a blended method of musical and educational activities. The project ended with a call-to-action plan which will be held on Earth Day 2021, approximately one month after the event.

“As part of an organising strategy to achieve cross-cutting outcomes, the campaign has set up 10 different operating systems to be fully focusing and in-charge in each sub-project in our governance structure. Throughout the two months’ preparation, major brainstorming and innovation sessions were held in order to creatively and effectively advance sustainability in campus-wide initiatives,” said Chong.

She enthused, “By utilising the latest technology, various social media challenges were carried out to raise awareness on the myriad of individual from daily and easily attainable actions for a sustainable future. As a result, over 1,000 crowd engagement from the community members with approximately 200 participants for each sub-project were recorded in this online participation. We are glad to see how the effort of this campaign started as a simple initiative, hoping to disseminate and influence the awareness of SDGs, turned out reflecting a positive transition from local perspectives.”

“Prior to our tagline – “Serving the Community, Restoring Faith in Humanity”, it will continue as a principle and students are constantly reminded hoping to influence society by doing public provisions with sustainable actions in order to meet the social needs of the community,” she added.

For more information, please contact qiaolinchong@gmail.com.

Initiated in 2019, CSR activities have been part of the course requirement of UAMP 3084 Corporate Social Responsibility by training and involving undergraduates on matters concerning the economy, environment, and social demands of the local communities with a series of hands-on projects.

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