• Course Code:  SC

  • Term:  April - July 2018

  • Start Date:  Apr 2 2018

  • End Date:  Jul 2 2018

  • Duration:  13 weeks

  • Course Author(s)
    Aromar Revi and colleagues

This course has ended

Cities image

Sustainable Cities

April - July 2018

  • Sdg academy website announcment
    The SDG Academy Team


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 the massive open online course 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 is for:

Anyone interested in the concepts of sustainable cities or smart 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


Course starts: April 2, 2018

Length: 13 weeks (9 modules + 2 catch-up weeks during the course, 2 additional weeks at the end of course)

Effort: 4-6 hours per module

Price: FREE

Languages: English

Video Transcripts: English, Hindi

Prerequisites: None

Requirements: An internet connection to access course materials


Course logistics and requirements:

The course launches April 2, 2018. Students can enroll at any time before July 2, 2018, and can complete the course materials at any time before July 1, 2018, at 23.30 hrs UTC. After that time, the course content will no longer be available.



  • Pre-recorded lectures
  • Readings
  • Quizzes 
  • Discussion forum
  • Weekly Webinars (These live sessions allow students to ask questions and engage directly with instructors and leading practitioners in the field. The exact dates of these sessions will be announced early in the course.)

Certificates: Students who successfully complete the course will receive a digital certificate of proficiency signed by the course instructors. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the graded components of the course. Students who score 85% or higher will receive certificates of distinction.



Course team: cities@sdgacademy.org

Technical support: support@edcast.com

Lead faculty:

Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements



Module 1: The urban opportunity

1.1 The urban opportunity (I&II)

1.2 Cities as centers of cultural and social transformation (I&II)
1.3 The challenge of urban politics, planning, and governance (I&II)

1.4 Urban research and methods

1.5 Urban theory and history


Module 2: What makes a city function?

2.1 Understanding urban systems

2.2 Municipal, regional and national governance

2.3 Urban utilities and services

2.4 Urban public finance and taxation

2.5 Law, order and conflict

2.6 Land management and planning

2.7 How cities function: lessons from London and Mumbai


Module 3: How can we reduce urban poverty and make cities inclusive and safe?

3.1 What is urban poverty?

3.2 New ways to measure urban poverty

3.3 Cities as sites for poverty reduction

3.4 What is affordable and adequate housing?

3.5 Who can deliver the housing we need?

3.6 Safety and violence

3.7 Urban risks and vulnerabilities


Module 4: How can we make cities productive and reduce inequality?

4.1 Cities as loci of production and consumption

4.2 Women in the informal economy

4.3 Migration, mobility, and the urban-rural continuum

4.4 Wealth and inequality in urban areas

4.5 Case study of SEWA, India

4.6 Migration and the refugee crisis


Module 5: How can we improve human development in cities?

5.1 Addressing the challenges of urban public health

5.2 Health services and planning solutions for improving urban health

5.3 Education and skills

5.4 Education in cities

5.5 Gender in the city

5.6 Human rights and justice

5.7 Law and equality

5.8 Apartheid and planning in South African cities


Module 6: How can we provide universal urban services and infrastructure?

6.1 Sustainable environmental services and infrastructure

6.2 Sustainable transport planning

6.3 Information, communication, and technology

6.4 Sustainable urban energy systems
6.5 Sustainable transport planning: Bangkok


Module 7: How can the urban environment be protected and cities be made resilient?

7.1 Air, water, food and natural resources

7.2 Urban agriculture for sustainable cities

7.3 How do cities accumulate risk exposure?

7.4 Climate impacts, adaptation, and mitigation

7.5 Building urban resilience

7.6 Environmental planning, management and the politics of change

7.7 Sustainable environmental practices: Durban

7.8 Urban disaster risk management

7.9 Post-disaster recovery


Module 8: How can cities and urban areas be governed better to make them more sustainable?

8.1 SDGs and other global processes

8.2 New forms of institutions and governance

8.3 Public participation and democracy (I&II)

8.4 Financing sustainable development

8.5 Measuring and monitoring the SDGs

8.6 Addressing the opportunities of secondary cities


Module 9: Who can enable and implement this change?

9.1 Who is helping make cities more sustainable?

9.2 United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and urban sustainability

9.3 Urban innovation: community-based organizations and civil society (the case of SDI)

9.4 UN-Habitat and international development and financing agencies

9.5 Implementing urban sustainability

9.6 International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and urban sustainability

9.7 Local leadership: a case study of Melbourne

9.8 International climate action: A case of Chinese cities



Curator and Lead Faculty - Aromar Revi

Programme Coordinator - Garima Jain

Media Directors - Subasri Krishnan and Yashodara Udupa

Teaching Assistant - Gargi Sen and Vineetha Nalla

Camera - Kunal Deshpande, Yashodara Udupa, and Zohrab Reys Gamat

Additional Camera: Isaac Berner

Light Assistance: Shekhar

Sound: Jamie D’silva and Rakesh U.P.

Additional Sound - Kunal Deshpande, Subasri Krishnan, Zohrab Reys Gamat

Editing - Sandhya Kumar, Vinay Ghodgeri, Yashodara Udupa and Zohrab Reys Gamat

Additional Editing - Sandeep Viswanath

Graphics - Radhamohini Prasad

Additional Assistance with Graphics - Arindam Jana, Charlotte Adelina P, Mohan Raju JS

Video and Sound Post-Production - Pradeep Nayak

Research Assistance -  Aishwarya Balasubramanian, Ana Abbas, Anushree Deb, Amrita Chattopadhyay, Jaikishan Agarwal, Jessica George, Rahael Kuruvilla, Sarita Pillay, Sushmita Ramoji, Suman Barat, Teja Malladi

Additional Content Assistance - Neha Sami

Word Edit Support - Rekha Raghunathan, Nishtha Vadehra

Production - Ananth Kumar, Kailash Singh Rawat, Neelufer Aslam, Pancham Singh Rawat, Puttaswamy, Sanjay Kumar Pal, Sreejith Suresh

Location Production Assistance: Alicia Fortuin, Sfanele Ntuli, Siphiwe 'Zane' Silinda

Legal Assistance - Amlanjyoti Goswami, Kaye Lushington, Amrita Basu Mallik, Karuna Sharma

Transcription - Anurag Dasgupta, Asha Mavinasara, Masoom Parmar, Nikita Vidhyalankar, Satyavrat Krishnakumar, Shaurya Singh, Teesta Krishnan Sinha

Translations (Hindi) - Communication for Development and Learning (CDL)

Equipment hire - Adams, Vineet Videos, Wildclickz








Cape Town










New Delhi

New York





Thanks to:

African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town (UCT)

Chulalongkorn University

Cities Alliance

Columbia University, Earth Institute

Curtin University


eThekwini Municipality

Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales(FLACSO) 

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

Middlesex University

Mistra Urban Futures

Monash University

Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) 

Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)

SEWA Bharat - All India Federation of Self Employed Women’s Association

Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI)

The New School University

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)


UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) 

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)



Angshuman Das; David McEwen; Holger Kuhle;  Jahnavi G.H.; Mohammad Fayaz; Capt. K Pooja Vasanth (Retd); Rebecca Heines; Sandeep Kumar Mitra; Swastik Harish; Varalakshmi; Vidya Jindal



Chandrika Bahadur for the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), SDG Academy


This course was made possible through the generous support of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.


New User? Sign up.

One Last Thing!

Check your email inbox and click on the email verification link we just sent you.

If it doesn’t reach your inbox in a few moments, it might be in your spam folder. Don’t forget to add our email address to your contacts if it did end up in spam! That’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.

As soon as you’ve verified your email, you’ll be able to continue.



Confirm Payment

Payment Unavailable. Try again later.

Sustainable Cities


Credit Card