• Length:
    9 Weeks
  • Effort:
    4–6 hours per week
  • Price:

    Add a Verified Certificate for $49 USD

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  • Video Transcripts:
    English, हिन्दी



About this course

Did you know that experts estimate an additional three billion people will live in cities by 2050? What will the impact be on the current world population – half of which currently lives in cities and contributes to about three-fourths of global economic output? The opportunities are vast – but so, too, are the potential issues.

In Sustainable Cities, you will learn about the major challenges currently faced by urban areas around the world – including poverty, unemployment, poor housing infrastructure, and constraints on productivity – and the extraordinary potential of these areas to enable change in the future. From infrastructure to culture to economic opportunity, learn how harnessing the power of urban development for global progress is imperative.

This course examines how urban sustainability can be delivered with increasing productivity and reduced inequality; provision of universal basic services and infrastructure; protection of the urban environments; and other solutions and investments, both speculative and in action around the world.

You will emerge from this course understanding how governments, private stakeholders and other actors can improve urban development to heed the call of Sustainable Development Goal 11 – “making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable“ by 2030.

This course has been developed through a partnership between the SDG Academy and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), which is working to transform the current nature of urban education and practice in India.

This course is for:
  • Anyone interested in the concept of sustainable cities – including those interested in the development of their own local community – who wants to understand the foundations of modern urban development
  • Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students in architecture, real estate development, sustainable development, sustainable business, international development, public policy, and other related fields
  • Sustainable development practitioners interested in the elements of sustainability that impact urban areas worldwide
  • Private-sector actors, such as those who work in real estate development, technology, telecommunications, transportation, or energy – whose work can contribute to and redefine urban areas

What you'll learn

  • An overview of governance, land management, utilities, and other entities that make up urban systems
  • Understanding how poverty, health, economic opportunity, and other people-focused issues impact urban systems and development
  • How technology is shaping transportation, energy, urban resilience, and more
  • Case studies of major cities in the Global North and South
Module 1: The urban opportunity
  • The urban opportunity
  • Cities: cultural and social transformation 
  • Challenge of urban politics, planning and governance 
  • Urban research methods
  • Urban theory and history
Module 2: What makes a city function?
  • Understanding urban systems
  • Municipal, regional and national governance
  • Urban utilities
  • Urban public finance and taxation
  • Law, order and conflict
  • Land management and planning
  • Lessons from London and Mumbai
Module 3: How can we reduce urban poverty and make cities inclusive and safe?
  • What is urban poverty?
  • Measuring urban poverty
  • Poverty reduction in cities
  • Affordable and adequate housing
  • Who can deliver the housing we need?
  • Safety and violence
  • Urban vulnerabilities
Module 4: Making cities productive and reduce inequality
  • City production and consumption
  • Women in the informal economy
  • Migration, mobility and the urban-rural continuum
  • Wealth and inequality
  • Case: SEWA, India
  • Migration and the refugee crisis
Module 5: Improving human development in cities
  • Addressing the challenges of urban public health
  • Colutions for improving urban health
  • Education and skills
  • Higher education in cities
  • Gender in the city
  • Human rights and justice
  • Law and equality
  • Apartheid in South African cities
Module 6: Providing universal urban services and infrastructure
  • Sustainable environmental services and infrastructure
  • Sustainable transport planning
  • ICT
  • Sustainable urban energy systems
  • Sustainable transport: Bangkok
Module 7: How can cities be resilient?
  • Air, water, food and natural resources
  • Urban ag for sustainable cities
  • City risk exposure
  • Climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation
  • Building urban resilience
  • Environmental planning and the politics of change
  • Sustainable environmental practices: Durban
  • Urban disaster risk management
  • Post-disaster recovery
Module 8: Governing sustainable cities
  • SDGs and other global processes
  • New institutions and governance
  • Public participation and democracy
  • Financing sustainable development
  • Measuring and monitoring the SDGs
  • Opportunities of secondary cities
Module 9: Implementing change
  • Making cities more sustainable
  • United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and urban sustainability
  • Urban innovation: community-based organisations and civil society (the case of SDI)
  • UN-Habitat and international development and financing agencies
  • Implementing urban sustainability
  • International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and urban sustainability
  • Local leadership: a case study of Melbourne
  • International climate action: A case of Chinese cities

Meet your instructors

Aromar Revi
Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Joshua Castellino
Executive Director and Professor of Law
Minorities Rights Group International
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Columbia University
Susan Parnell
Chair in Human Geography
University of Bristol
Sheela Patel
Founder Director
Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Mumbai
Peter Newman
John Curtin Distinguished Professor
Curtin University
Raf Tuts
Director, Programme Division
United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat
Debra Roberts
Founder and Head
Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of eThekwini Municipality, Durban
Eugenie Birch
Professor and Co-Director PennIUR (Institute for Urban Research)
University of Pennsylvania
Edgar Pieterse
South African Research Chair in Urban Policy
University of Cape Town
Michael Cohen
Professor and Director of International Affairs
The New School, New York
David Satterthwaite
Senior Fellow
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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