• Course Code:  ECD

  • Term:  On Demand

  • Start Date:  Sep 25 2017

  • End Date:  Aug 31 2018

  • Enroll by:  Aug 12 2018

  • Duration:  49 weeks

  • Course Author(s)
    Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Jack Shonkoff, Aisha Yousafzai, and Catherine Tamis-LeMonda

This course has ended

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The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development

On Demand

  • Sdg academy website announcment
    The SDG Academy Team


This course is self-paced – you can enroll anytime before August 12, 2018 and complete the course materials any time before August 31, 2018. 

Note: This on demand instance of the Early Childhood Development course is only available to the institutions listed below. 


For individuals, the course will next be offered live in September 2018: sign up for our newsletter for exact launch dates!


Institutions with current access: 

UNICEF: please use your "unicef.org" email address to sign up for, and log-in to, this course. 

Novak Djokovic Foundation: Please use your "novakdjokovicfoundation.org" email address to sign up for, and log-in to, this course.  

World Bank: Please use your "worldbank.org"  email address to sign up for, and log-in to, this course.  

Users from these institutions should email sdgacademy@unsdsn.org if they have any issues with course access.


Course Summary

Children are the common basis for all dimensions of sustainable development. No advances in sustainable development will occur in coming decades without multiple generations contributing to societal improvement. Moreover, beyond sheer survival, children have a right to thrive, develop to their full potential, and live in a sustainable world.


Around the world, governments, organizations, and communities are working to improve the life chances of young children. In spite of these efforts, however, it is currently estimated that 250 million children under the age of 5 worldwide are failing to meet their development potential.  


A range of powerful risk factors lead to this incredible loss of human potential. Malnutrition, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, lack of stimulation and learning opportunities, and many other challenges result in high odds of early mortality, school failure, early pregnancy, joblessness, and costly disease.  The levers for change rest in local and community strengths that promote resilience, as well as national and global action.


Recognizing the interconnectedness of poverty reduction, health, education, agriculture, energy, gender equality, social inclusion, and development within planetary boundaries should place children and an inter-generational vision of development at the heart of the work of the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 


This course draws from research in neuroscience, psychology, economics, anthropology and program implementation and evaluation in order to discuss Early Childhood Development (ECD) and explore its role in achieving the SDGs. Completing the course will lead to understanding: 

  • The ways in which children grow during this most rapid phase of development (physical, social, cognitive, emotional)
  • How the environment interacts with the body to build brain architecture and influence children's growth and development
  • Milestones of child development: what is it that children know and can do at birth, by the second year, by preschool age
  • How child development and its contexts vary across cultures and societies 
  • How can programs and policies support children's development?  
  • How can innovation push forward the field of ECD  and how can you participate?  

Join Professor Hirokazu Yoshikawa (New York University, Global TIES for Children), along with Professors Jack Shonkoff (Harvard Center on the Developing Child), Catherine Tamis-LeMonda (New York University), Aisha Yousafzai (Harvard Chan School of Public Health) and UNICEF Senior Advisor and Chief of Early Childhood Development Pia Rebello Britto for this SDG Academy course!


The course is On Demand, therefore all material is made available to students upon enrollment. The success of the course depends on an active student base representing a diversity of experiences, geographies and perspectives, so add your voice to the global discusison by registering today!


Course Syllabus 


1.1 Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development

1.2 The State of the World's Children 

1.3 How Brain Architecture Develops

1.4 The Impact of Adversity & Toxic Stress 

1.5 Resilience & How to Foster It 


Child Development: Prenatal to Age 3  

2.1 Development in Culture & Context

2.2 Physical Development 

2.3 Cognitive Development and Perception 

2.4 Language Development 

2.5   Social Development 

2.6 Emotional Development &Temperament


Child Development: Ages 3 to 8  

3.1 Physical Development 

3.2 Cognitive Development & Executive Function 

3.3 Language 

3.4 Socio-emotional Development 


Tour of ECD Programs and Sectors Part I 

4.1 Introduction to Multi-sector Aspects 

4.2 Health Programs

4.3 Nutrition & Parenting Programs


Tour of ECD Programs and Sectors Part 2   

5.1 Social Protection Programs

5.2 Early Care & Education Programs

5.3 Child Protection Programs


Communities and Situations of Conflict and Migration 

6.1 Uganda Case Study 

6.2 Community Based Programs 

6.3 Conflict & Migration 


From Programs to Policies 

7.1 How is Policy Created?   

7.2 Quality, Governance & Sustainability

7.3 Financing ECD Policies


The Future: Innovations and Growth  

8.1 Innovation in ECD

8.2 Innovation from Around the World 

8.3 Conclusion: The Future of ECD 

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