Reflecting on GPA's SDG #4 Unveiling at Saint Joseph's University

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By Jeremy Goodman

On April 28th, Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) had its first in-person unveiling for Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education at St. Joseph’s University (SJU). One of two murals that were curated for this SDG project, this work of art at the SJU Sciences Center was only a block away from the first one that was completed by the Samuel Gompers school.

This new mural, painted by Arthur Haywood, seeks to combine science fiction and reading to create a surreal work of art that places knowledge as a life force for humanity. Traveling from the streets of Philadelphia all the way to Paris, Haywood is a truly remarkable individual who has made his community proud. While he was unable to attend, his father read a statement from him that told the story of his inspiration for the piece and the symbiotic relationship between art and education.

The event was lucky to have so many attendees on sight. Sheila Hess (City Representative, City of Philadelphia), James O’Sullivan (Assistant Professor of Social Ethics, Saint Joseph’s University), Senator Arthur Haywood (Pennsylvania State Senate), Robert McNeil (GPA Board Chair & Managing Partner of Deloitte) and Jay Carter (Dean of the SJU School of College of Arts and Sciences) were amongst those in attendance. The festivities began with a talented performance by SJU’s Campus Ministries Choir. Their performance was followed by GPA’s executive director, Zabeth Teelucksingh, who issued a moving statement on the importance of the Sustainable Development Campaign throughout Philadelphia and its ability to bring us together as a city. 

A crowd of dignitaries, GPA staff, community members, and curious SJU students surrounded the work of art on a sunny spring afternoon as speeches were made and words of admiration were shared. Gratitude was expressed towards Arthur Haywood’s artistic creativity and conversations circulated about how education can be further improved throughout Philadelphia. SJU students were already warming up to the new piece of art that will make SJU a brighter place. 

The mural on Hawk Hill features a young woman symbolizing Mother Nature with an open book that has a green glow emanating from its pages. She is entwined in the tree and has the roots of knowledge pulsing through her to teach and inspire the students around her. Strategically placed on the sciences building, the dean of the college highlighted the importance of fostering a coexisting, mutually beneficial relationship between both the arts and the sciences.

With a ways still yet to go, the goal of achieving education for all as a vehicle of “upward socioeconomic mobility” and “escaping poverty” remains an uphill battle, particularly in the era of COVID-19. GPA and Saint Joseph's University’s partnership is one step in the right direction.

For more information about SDG #4, visit our SDG web page

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