Professional Course

Cities and the Challenge of Sustainable Development

edX, Online
1 week
25 USD
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Self-paced Online
1 week
25 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

Cities and the Challenge of Sustainable Development

According to the United Nations, urbanization and population growth could result in an increase of 2.5 billion people into urban populations by 2050, with associated impacts ranging from increased transportation needs to more building. How do we make cities sustainable to support this growth?

In this mini-series, learn the challenges of local governments to adapt to new technologies, energy systems, modes of transportation and more in order to build the sustainable cities of the 21st century.

This mini-series is a companion piece to the SDG Academy's full-length Sustainable Cities course.

This course is for:

  • Anyone new to the concept of sustainable cities or smart cities 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 and other related fields who want a concise overview of the concept of sustainable cities
  • Sustainable development practitioners interested in the basics of sustainable development for cities around the world
  • Private-sector actors, such as those who work in technology, telecommunications, transportation or the energy industry – whose work can contribute to and redefine this space

Upcoming start dates

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  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?



Training content

Module 1: Introduction to the SDGs

Professor Jeffrey Sachsintroduces the SDGs and their importance.This module briefly describes the importance of creating sustainable living spaces and what we can expect from a future that is built on the principles of economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

Module 2: Why Cities? The Importance of SDG 11

Professor Sachs talks about the ideas and thought-processes that are used to work towards achieving sustainable cities. He elaborates the circumstances in which SDG 11 was created, and uses current data to estimate future global needs and the expectations that must be fulfilled to establish sustainable cities. The outcomes of modifying and designing cities for the increasing world population are also elaborated.

Module 3: The 10-Point Agenda for 21st-Century Cities

Professor Sachs discusses the pros and cons of advancements in science and technology. He outlines a 10-point agenda for sustainable cities and discusses each topic individually to elaborate the breadth and depth of this complex issue.

Module 4: Urban Environment and Energy Systems

Professor Sachs highlights the escalating issues due to climate change and pollution and establishes the urgent need to achieve clean and smart cities. To illustrate the limited timeline under which sustainability must be achieved, he uses current data to forecast possible future solutions. Thismodule also includes examples of new methods and cutting-edge technologies that can be used to achieve SDG 11.

Module 5: Cities as Hubs of Knowledge

This concluding module draws on the cross-cutting issues previously discussed, including the importance of developing urban settlements into smart, shared spaces that foster creativity and knowledge growth. Using case studies, Professor Sachs provides further examples of how this is being done across the world, and how this method can be applied in the future.

Course delivery details

This course is offered through SDG Academy, a partner institute of EdX.

1-2 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$25
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • The basics of sustainability
  • The Sustainable Development Goals and how they apply to cities
  • What constitutes a sustainable city
  • How various sectors contribute to modern, sustainable urban development

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