Global Conversation: A Conversation with David Steingard

By Tasnim Hasan

Professor David Steingard has been teaching in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) for the past 21 years focusing on ethics, leadership, sustainability, and business.

While Steingard thoroughly enjoys teaching students, he is excited about facilitating their learning. He added that there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing students demonstrate mastery over “substantive academic topics” and applying that knowledge to real-world applications that make a difference.

Presently, Steingard is serving as the Director of the Sustainable Development Goals Dashboard (SDGs) at SJU. The SDG Dashboard is a new reporting, visualization, and data analytics tool for global business schools and universities to showcase their contributions toward advancing the 17 United Nations SDGs.

Tasnim Hasan: Can you tell us more about the SDG Dashboard at SJU? 

David Steingard: The SDG Dashboard serves as a useful tool that is accessible by educational institutions around the world. It collects and shares best SDG impact practices in the areas of teaching, research, partnership, dialogue, and organizational practices. 

The SDG Dashboard is used by global Higher Education Institutions to improve their practices. We are working with more international networks and partnering with business schools and universities worldwide. 

TH: How does the SDG Dashboard help students at SJU?

DS: Students at undergraduate and graduate levels working on the SDG Dashboard learn to manage complex team projects with faculty and other students from higher education institutions all over the world. This is invaluable experience as our students prepare to find employment after graduation. In fact, most all of our SDG Dashboard students have placed at leading-edge firms in the technology, consulting, accounting, and tax sectors. 

During the current academic year, the entire SJU campus is engaged in promoting activities related to SDG5 Gender Equality and SDG10 Reduced Inequalities. We are trying to do our part to advance these and the other SDGs in everything we do on and off-campus.

TH: Why should people show interest in learning more about the SDGs?

DS: Through my work with the SDG Dashboard and higher education institutions around the world, I have come to realize that the SDGs really do hold a transformative blueprint for people, planet, and equitable prosperity. The SDGs literally are a plan for humanity to overcome challenging issues and flourish with a delivery timeline of 2030. If everybody embraced the SDGs and their intent, it would make a quantum difference in accelerating positive change for today’s exigent issues--including humanity’s current fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, and climate change.

TH: What do you think Philadelphia can do to set an example nationally and internationally in promoting the SDGs?

DS: To get anything meaningful accomplished, we need local representation in the type of United Nations related initiatives focusing on advancing sustainable, equitable, and prosperous cities. Fortunately, there is a new and exciting movement of global cities reporting and sharing their best impact practices on the SDGs at the municipal level—cities are publishing Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). Much like nation-state level reporting through Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), VLRs detail the strategic, operational, and statistical engagement of cities vis-à-vis the SDGs. I think undertaking a VLR for Philadelphia would provide a transformational opportunity for our city to shine on the global stage.

TH: What do you think makes Philadelphia a global city? Why?

DS: Aside from obvious factors, I think Philadelphia offers a unique contribution to its identity as a global city. Philadelphia reflects so much diversity in its population. The globally welcoming open arms of the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ has encouraged so many different types of cultures to thrive here. This makes Philly a model American city—a diverse reflection of many of the world’s peoples—as well as a connected and vibrant contributor with global impact.

TH: What is your favorite thing about Philadelphia?

DS: I always appreciate that Philadelphia is the ‘birthplace of American democracy.’ I find it empowering to know that the fundamental ideals of our country are so deeply embedded in the city where I live. In fact, you don’t need to go very far to find information and inspiration—you can even learn a thing or two about Philadelphia at the mini-golf at Franklin Square!

TH: What do you think Philadelphia can do to improve its profile as an international city?

DS: I think Philadelphia can be a bit more vocal about how much it has to offer the international community. Because Philadelphia does not have the inherent global brand awareness of New York or Los Angeles, it could be more proactive in sharing its treasures and opportunities with the world. To this end, the Global Philadelphia Association is doing exemplary work to elevate Philadelphia’s stature globally—and the GPA’s embrace and dissemination of the SDGs is a powerful step in this direction.