Our student Fellows work directly with business and other non-academic organisations in order to design and deliver research-based solutions that advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Our mission...

We enable students to collaborate with business in order to deliver sustainable development.

About the Impact Lab

Our approach

We work with the brightest graduate students across the University. We provide them with the skills needed to lead real-world change. We connect them with business partners in order to deliver sustainable solutions to societal challenges.

We equip our students to:

  • Collaborate with business and non-academic partners
  • Develop practical skills in leadership and project management
  • Undertake research that leads to real-world impact

We enable our partners to:

  • Collaborate with a new generation of world-leading graduate students
  • Access bespoke and inspirational research on sustainable development
  • Translate that research into organisational change in line with the SDGs

Our story

The Oxford SDG Impact Lab was founded in 2021. Based in the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID), it was developed in collaboration with the University’s Social Sciences Division and the Oxford Character Project in the Humanities Division.

The Lab builds on the conviction that Oxford’s graduate students have the potential to lead transformative change. In order to unleash this potential, we wanted to complement Oxford’s traditional academic education with transferrable skills training, in areas such as leadership and project management, and offering experiential learning opportunities to work directly with business and non-academic organisations.

Given these opportunities, we believe that our students can design and deliver research-based solutions of social and commercial value, which can advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This vision became a reality through our founding partnership with easyJet holidays. The first cohort of 20 student Fellows joined the Lab in January 2022. They were given access to the pilot 17-week training programme, and the opportunity to work collaboratively with the company on advancing the company’s commitment to deliver the UN SDGs in the area of sustainable tourism.

The Lab is based at Pembroke College ‘s Albion House on Littlegate Street, and has been generously furnished through an in-kind donation from IKEA UK and Ireland.

The Lab was co-founded by Alexander Betts and Ed Brooks, in collaboration with Matt Callaghan of easyJet holidays. Its founding team comprised Merry Whitaker, Ollie Cook, and Bryony Varnam.

Inclusive sustainability

The Lab’s unifying concept of ‘inclusive sustainability’ – a commitment to research and education that support sustainable consumption choices for all.

We believe that a commitment to sustainability needs to engage the broadest possible public audience, regardless of background.

We are especially keen to work with partners that have the aspiration to shape the choices of their customers, in ways that align with both environmental sustainability and the SDGs.

For example, easyJet holidays have a commitment to ‘holidays that do not cost the Earth’, while IKEA has a commitment to ‘a better life for the many’.

Within our emerging Lab research agenda, we aim to draw upon behavioural science to explore how ordinary consumers come to make more sustainable consumption choices.


The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future.

The 17 Goals provide a unifying framework for addressing a range of major global challenges. Adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, they represent an urgent call to action for all countries to work together to end poverty, improve health and education, reduce inequality, and build socio-economic opportunity – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests.

Beyond governments, many non-state actors, including businesses are committed to delivering the SDGs. Universities also have an important role to play. Central to delivering all the SDGs is the idea of partnership.

For us, the SDGs provide a focal point for all our work. They offer a shared common language through which we can empower our students and partners to collectively deliver solutions to major global challenges.

The Lab aims to support the SDGs by:

  1. Inspiring a new generation to work towards delivering the SDGs
  2. Creating new partnerships and collaborations to achieve the SDGs
  3. Designing innovative and research-based solutions that address the SDGs