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Age of Sustainable Development

Jeffrey D. Sachs

Sustainable development is the most urgent challenge facing humanity. Its fundamental question is: How can the world economy continue to develop in a way that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable? This course provides a broad overview of the interactions between the economy and our environment and humanity, from the constraints of finite resources, to the activities that drive climate change, to equality for all.

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Sustainable development is the most urgent challenge facing humanity. Its fundamental question is: How can the world economy continue to develop in a way that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable? This course provides a broad overview of the interactions between the economy and our environment and humanity, from the constraints of finite resources, to the activities that drive climate change, to equality for all.

This course is an updated version of Professor Sachs' popular 2015 course of the same name. It includes new perspectives and a reorientation towards Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.

Join us for this introduction to the tenets of sustainable development, developed by experts on the latest in the social, policy and physical sciences.

This course is for:

  • Anyone new to the concept of sustainable development who wants to understand its foundations and its relevance to their life and work
  • Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students interested in the key concepts and practices of sustainability and global values
  • Sustainable development practitioners - as well as private-sector actors, such as those who work in corporate sustainability and responsibility - who want a concise overview of the latest developments in the field

What's inside

Learning objectives

  • The basics of the sustainable development goals
  • The role of people: from inequality, to poverty, to health and human rights
  • The role of the planet: planetary boundaries, the value of renewable energy, and sustainable consumption of our natural resources
  • How to help nations, businesses and economies flourish without leaving anyone behind

Syllabus

Module 1: What is Sustainable Development?
Intro to Sustainable Development (SD)
Economic Growth & Progress
Continuing Poverty
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Environmental Threats
Business-as-usual vs. SD
From the MDGs to the SDGs: Agenda 2030
Module 2: Economic Development
Incomes Around the World
Urban/Rural Inequality
Income Inequality Within Countries
Measuring Wellbeing
Convergence or Divergence
Module 3: History of Economic Development
Economic Development from 1750
Industrial Revolution
Waves of Tech Change
Diffusion of Economic Growth
Economic Development Since WWII
Module 4: Inequality Between Countries
Clinical Economics
The Role of Physical Geography: Transport, Energy, Disease, Crops
The Role of Culture: Demography, Education, Gender
The Role of Politics
Countries Stuck in Poverty
Module 5: MDGs: End of Extreme Poverty
Extreme Poverty Can End
Ending Extreme Poverty in Africa
Food Supply in South Asia
Official Development Assistance
Designing Practical Interventions: Millennium Villages Projects
Module 6: Growth Within Planetary Boundaries
The Origins of the Boundary Concept: Thomas Malthus
Neo-Malthusian Frameworks: Growth Dynamics
The 9 Planetary Boundaries
Living Within Limits: Energy, Agriculture and Industry
Module 7: Human Rights, Gender Equality
Ethics: Wealth, Poverty, Inequality
UN Declarations
Divided Societies
Forces of Widening Inequalities
Gender Inequality & Solutions
Module 8: Education
Human Development: Life-Cycle Approach
Early Childhood Development
Education & the Supply Response
Social Mobility
The Role of Higher Ed
Module 9: Universal Health Coverage
Human Right to Health
Poverty & Disease
Designing a Health System in Low-Income Countries
Healthcare for All
Health Coverage in High-Income Countries
Module 10: Sustainable Food Supply: the End of Hunger
Malnutrition
Farm Systems, Ecology, Food Security
How Environmental Change Threatens the Food System
How the Food System Threatens the Environment
A Sustainable Global Food Supply
Module 11: Sustainable Cities
Patterns of Urbanization
What Makes a City Sustainable?
Smart Infrastructure
Urban Resilience
Planning for SD
Module 12: Curbing Climate Change
Science of Climate Change
Consequences
Mitigation
Adaptation
Global Cooperation
Module 13: Saving Biodiversity
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity Under Threat
Oceans & Fisheries
Deforestation
International Dynamics
Module 14: The Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals
Goal-based Development
Financing for Sustainable Development
Principles of Good Governance
Is Sustainable Development Feasible?

Good to know

Know what's good
, what to watch for
, and possible dealbreakers
Well-structured course for various levels of learners (beginners to advanced students)
Led by a renowned expert in sustainable development
Provides a comprehensive understanding of sustainable development through its 14 modules
Emphasis on practical applications, making it relevant for practitioners
Covers essential aspects of sustainability, including social, economic, and environmental perspectives
Aligned with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring relevance to global challenges

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Reviews summary

Highly praised sustainability course

Learners say that the "Age of Sustainable Development" course is an informative and engaging course about the urgent need for sustainability in our society and how countries can develop their economies in sustainable ways. This highly praised course is well received by learners because of its engaging content, knowledgeable instructor, and practical application of knowledge.
Knowledgeable and engaging instructor.
"Prof Sachs is marvelous."
Covers urgent sustainability topics.
"helps to understand the pressing need for "sustainability" for future."
"This is a fantastic course with excellent topics and contents!"
Connects to real-world sustainability issues.
"linking us to the current happenings in the world around us."

Career center

Learners who complete Age of Sustainable Development will develop knowledge and skills that may be useful to these careers:
Economist
Economists study the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of economics. You will learn about the major theories of economics, as well as the methods used to conduct economic research. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on development, sustainability, and environmental policy.
Environmental Scientist
Environmental scientists study the environment and its interaction with humans. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of environmental science. You will learn about the major environmental issues facing the world today, as well as the methods used to study and solve these issues. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of environmental science. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on sustainable development and climate change.
Sociologist
Sociologists study the relationships between people and the environment. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of sociology. You will learn about the major theories of sociology, as well as the methods used to conduct sociological research. This knowledge will be essential for success in almost any career in the field. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on policy and sustainable development.
Geographer
Geographers study the Earth's surface and its human and environmental interactions. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of geography. You will learn about the major theories of geography, as well as the methods used to conduct geographic research. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of geography. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on sustainable development and environmental planning.
International Development Specialist
International development specialists work to improve the lives of people in developing countries. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of international development. You will learn about the major theories of international development, as well as the methods used to conduct international development research. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of international development. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on poverty reduction, health, and education.
Sustainability Manager
Sustainability managers develop and implement sustainability plans for organizations. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of sustainability management. You will learn about the major theories of sustainability management, as well as the methods used to conduct sustainability management research. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of sustainability management. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on corporate social responsibility and environmental impact.
Urban Planner
Urban planners design and plan the use of land and buildings in urban areas. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of urban planning. You will learn about the major theories of urban planning, as well as the methods used to conduct urban planning research. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of urban planning. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on sustainable development and smart growth.
Environmental Policy Analyst
Environmental policy analysts develop and evaluate policies to protect the environment. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of environmental policy analysis. You will learn about the major theories of environmental policy analysis, as well as the methods used to conduct environmental policy analysis research. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of environmental policy analysis. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on climate change, air pollution, and water quality.
Climate Change Analyst
Climate change analysts study the causes and effects of climate change. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of climate change analysis. You will learn about the major theories of climate change analysis, as well as the methods used to conduct climate change analysis research. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of climate change analysis. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on mitigation, adaptation, and policy.
Human Rights Officer
Human rights officers work to protect and promote human rights. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of human rights. You will learn about the major human rights treaties and conventions, as well as the methods used to monitor and enforce human rights. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of human rights. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on civil and political rights, economic and social rights, and minority rights.
Nonprofit Manager
Nonprofit managers oversee the operations of nonprofit organizations. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of nonprofit management. You will learn about the major theories of nonprofit management, as well as the methods used to manage nonprofit organizations. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of nonprofit management. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on fundraising, program development, and evaluation.
Energy Analyst
Energy analysts study the production, distribution, and consumption of energy. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of energy analysis. You will learn about the major energy sources, as well as the methods used to conduct energy analysis. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of energy analysis. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate change.
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager
Corporate social responsibility managers develop and implement corporate social responsibility programs for businesses. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of corporate social responsibility. You will learn about the major theories of corporate social responsibility, as well as the methods used to develop and implement corporate social responsibility programs. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of corporate social responsibility. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on sustainability, ethics, and stakeholder engagement.
Environmental Consultant
Environmental consultants help businesses and organizations comply with environmental regulations. This course will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of environmental consulting. You will learn about the major environmental regulations, as well as the methods used to conduct environmental assessments and audits. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of environmental consulting. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on air quality, water quality, and hazardous waste.
Science Writer
Science writers communicate complex scientific information to the public. This course may be useful for those who wish to enter the field of science writing. It will provide you with a strong foundation in the field of science writing. You will learn about the major theories of science writing, as well as the methods used to write effective science articles. This knowledge will be essential for success in any career in the field of science writing. It will be especially useful in areas that focus on environmental science and sustainability.

Reading list

We've selected 14 books that we think will supplement your learning. Use these to develop background knowledge, enrich your coursework, and gain a deeper understanding of the topics covered in Age of Sustainable Development.
Provides a detailed plan for how to reverse global warming. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the fight against climate change, particularly those who are interested in practical solutions.
Provides a rigorous economic analysis of the concept of sustainable development. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the economics of sustainable development, particularly those who are interested in the role of economic growth in sustainable development.
Provides a comprehensive overview of the economics of climate change. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the economics of climate change, particularly those who are interested in the role of economic incentives in mitigating climate change.
Argues that extreme poverty can be ended within a generation if the world community makes a concerted effort to invest in development. It must-read for anyone who is interested in the fight against poverty.
Argues that the world is getting better, not worse. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the future of humanity, particularly those who are interested in the role of innovation and technology in improving the human condition.
Argues that people are feeling worse about the world, even though the world is getting better. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the psychology of happiness, particularly those who are interested in the role of social media in shaping our perception of the world.
Provides a comprehensive overview of the history of inequality in the world. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the history of inequality, particularly those who are interested in the role of health and wealth in shaping inequality.
Argues that the overuse of metrics is leading to a loss of creativity and innovation. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the role of metrics in shaping our society, particularly those who are interested in the dangers of over-reliance on metrics.
Provides a comprehensive overview of the science of habit formation. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the role of habits in shaping our lives, particularly those who are interested in changing their own habits.
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Provides a comprehensive overview of the psychology of decision-making. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the role of cognitive biases in shaping our decisions, particularly those who are interested in making better decisions.
Argues that capitalism is facing a number of challenges, including inequality, environmental degradation, and technological disruption. It offers a number of policy recommendations to address these challenges and ensure the future of capitalism.
Provides a comprehensive overview of the history of extinction on Earth. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the history of life on Earth, particularly those who are interested in the role of humans in the extinction of other species.
Provides a sweeping overview of the history of humankind, from our origins in Africa to the present day. It valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the history of humankind, particularly those who are interested in the role of humans in the development of the modern world.

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