Education on the Sustainable Development Goals for nursing students: Is Freire the answer?

Publication Name

Nursing Inquiry


Significant global events in recent years have had a substantial impact on the nursing profession. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and systemic racism are a few of the many complex issues that create a landscape of disruption and uncertainty in healthcare. With the aims of protecting both people and the planet, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals offer a road map to combat these global concerns, yet require more widespread consideration as a way forward. Education on the Sustainable Development Goals is recognised as a key aspect for healthcare professionals to take action towards achieving the targets of the goals. For student nurses, the undergraduate curriculum offers an opportunity to enculturate future nurses on the important role they play in the global agenda to transform our world. Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire's theoretical approach to education, critical pedagogy, espouses transformation with conscientization, dialogue and liberation, which may create a paradigm shift toward global action. This discussion paper seeks to provide an argument for embedding the Sustainable Development Goals into nursing curricula using the philosophies of Freire's critical pedagogy. It will argue that a critical approach to education is required to create the transformation needed for student nurses to be educated on the Sustainable Development Goals.

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