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The UN Sustainable Development Goals: an Interdisciplinary Academic Introduction

An interdisciplinary introduction to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)which looks at all SDGs, their progress and challenges.

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Estimated 7 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Self-paced
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Free
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About this course

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, which were adopted in 2015, will determine the course of the global social, ecological and economic agenda until 2030.

Information about the different SDGs is abundantly available but a comprehensive framework that brings them all together coherently is often lacking. This course provides a general and accessible academic introduction to SDGs in all its facets.

A highly interdisciplinary team of experts will offer their insight into the intricacies of the matter, while practitioners in the domain of the SDGs are closely engaged in the discussion.

Course created with support from

VLIR-UOSLeuven Centre for Global Governance Studies

At a glance

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

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  • Understand the emergence and development of the SDGs
  • Understand how the different SDGs are interrelated
  • Understand the structure of the SDGs in the United Nations context
  • Acquire an understanding of how the SDGs relate to addressing global challenges such as inequality, climate change, poverty, unsustainable consumption and production, and peace and security
  • Acquire scientifically informed and evidence-based information about the background and reality of each SDG
  • Understand the complexities of the 169 individual targets that are part of the 17 SDGs
  • Reflect on the challenges with which the SDGs are confronted
  • Recognize the mutual interdependence between social, ecological and economic objectives of the SDG agenda
  • Acquire an understanding of the institutional infrastructure in place that aims to realize SDG goals
  • Understand how the SDGs are implemented
  • Learn from practitioners what the difficulties are in achieving the SDGs

Module 1: The origin, development and idea of the SDGs
History and origins of the Sustainable Development Goals. What are the SDGs? What are their aims, methodology and perspectives? How are they related to the Millennium Development Goals?

Module 2: SDGs and Society: Ensuring resilience and primary needs in society
In-depth discussion and analysis of goals related to poverty, hunger, health & well-being and education

Module 3: SDGs and Society: Strengthening Institutions for Sustainability
In-depth discussion and analysis of goals related to gender equality, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities & communities, and peace, justice & strong institutions

Module 4: SDGs and the Economy: Shaping a Sustainable Economy
In-depth discussion and analysis of goals related to work & economic growth, industry, innovation & infrastructure, inequalities, responsible production & consumption

Module 5: SDGs and the Biosphere: Development within Planetary Boundaries
In-depth discussion and analysis of goals related to clean water, climate, life below water and life on land

Module 6: Realizing the SDGs: Implementation through Global Partnerships
In-depth discussion and analysis of SDG 17 which aims to implement the SDGs through partnerships, finance, technology and the development of coherence between policies

Learner testimonials

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  • “What I liked most of all was that both the emergence of the SDGs and each goal were critically reflected upon. I especially liked the offer of supporting testimonials, which clarified practical issues.” - previous student
  • “I liked the interactive material. Breaking it up with videos and little finger exercises was really excellent and a great way to reflect critically on the goals without spending too much time and effort on each task (manageable for us with busy schedules!). The content addressed both criticisms, trade-offs, and synergies, giving a very realistic outlook on the SDGs and inspires us to think about how we can reform, adapt and continue making progress.” - previous student
  • “The course is very well-designed in term of contents and how lecturers analyze each goal and give examples.” - previous student
  • “This MOOC has given me the encouragement to take up more EdX courses!” - previous student

About the instructors

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