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Queen’s community comes together to illustrate social impact

THE Impact Rankings submission measures the university’s overall contribution to global sustainability.

 [Graphic image with a "Q" of the Queen's community]

Times Higher Education (THE), the organization best known for its World University Rankings, sees universities as representing the greatest hope of solving the most urgent global challenges. In 2019, they moved to create the Impact Rankings – an inclusive evaluation of post-secondary institutions’ commitments to positive social and economic impact measured against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year, out of more than 1,500 participating institutions worldwide, Queen’s placed seventh globally in the 2022 Impact Rankings. It’s the second straight year Queen’s has placed in the top ten and the continued strong performance is a result of our campus community’s united effort to advance sustainability and social impact.

THE Impact Rankings

While many traditional ranking processes are designed with research-intensive universities in mind, the Impact Rankings are open to any institution teaching at the undergraduate or post-graduate level. Using the SDGs as a means of gauging a university’s performance, THE developed a methodology involving more than 100 metrics and 220 measurements, carefully calibrated to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons between institutions across four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching.

“The Impact Rankings are unlike any other ranking. They offer a global platform to acknowledge and celebrate the partnerships integral to advancing international initiatives, developing the leaders of tomorrow, and working towards an inclusive, diverse, and sustainable future,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations) and co-chair of the Queen’s Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “On behalf of the Steering Committee, once again, thank you to the community for your support and collaboration in advancing this initiative.”

In their submissions, universities must demonstrate progress toward meeting at least three SDGs, as well as towards SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. THE evaluates each institution’s submission, drawing on the quantitative and qualitative data provided, in addition to bibliometric research datasets provided by Elsevier, a data and analytics company.

The Queen’s Submission – A Community Effort

“Participating in the Impact Rankings requires self-reflection. We are asked to contemplate our current impact and think about what we want to achieve for the future,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost (International) and co-chair of the Queen's Impact Rankings Steering Committee. “The results of the last two years are a testament to the work we have done together. I hope this is a moment for recognizing the progress we have made, and to furthering our aspirations as a university and as members of a global community committed to change.”

Queen’s submission process is led by a Steering Committee, Project Team, and Working Group comprised of leadership, staff, and faculty from across the university. This year, the team set about gathering and reviewing over 600 unique pieces of evidence, representing the efforts of about 80 units, departments, and portfolios. Queen’s chose to continue to submit evidence in support of all 17 SDGs – a decision that led to top-100 rankings in 12 of the 17 SDGs, including top-30 in 8 SDGs, and being ranked in the top 3 – globally – for SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

Metrics and measurements were unique for each SDG, with each goal requiring a specific combination of quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative evidence integrated research bibliometric data and key words that measured number of publications, co-authors, and field-weighted citations. Other quantitative measurements, for example, looked at water consumption per capita, energy and food waste measurements, support for arts and culture initiatives, number of first-generation university students, and number of employees and students from equity-seeking groups.

Qualitative evidence spanned from institutional policies and academic programs to the missions of research centres and institutes, community volunteer initiatives, and strategic plans, all demonstrating how we are advancing the SDGs. Metrics often required evidence of local, national, and global-reaching initiatives to illustrate full impact.

More than 300 internal links pointing to Queen’s websites, including the new Advancing Social Impact site and report, were supplied as publicly accessible evidence of Queen’s research, outreach, teaching, and stewardship efforts. Additionally, nearly 50 external links were included in the submission, each reflecting the university’s extensive partnerships: internally with student-led clubs, locally with Sustainable Kingston and United Way KFL&A, nationally with the Government of Canada, and globally with the Matariki Network of Universities.

Learn more about Queen’s performance in the Times Higher Education 2022 Impact Rankings.

[This story was originally published on April 21, 2021, and has been updated to reflect Queen’s University’s performance in the 2022 THE Impact Rankings.]