The Age of Sustainable Development

"The Age of Sustainable Development" gives students an understanding of the key challenges and pathways to sustainable development - that is, economic development that is also socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. NOTE: Course will launch at noon on September 9, 2014.

About The Course

This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of sustainable development, drawing on the most recent developments in the social, policy, and physical sciences. Sustainable development is the most urgent challenge facing humanity. The fundamental question is how the world economy can continue to develop in a way that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. The course describes the complex interactions between the world economy and the Earth's physical environment. Ecological processes and constraints (climate, disease ecology, physical resources such as soils and energy sources, topography and transport conditions) significantly shape the patterns of economic development, demography, and wealth and poverty. At the same time, human activities (farming, land use, urbanization, demographic change, and energy use) change the physical environments, increasingly in dangerous ways. The course offers a broad overview of the key challenges and potential solutions to achieve sustainable development in the 21st century.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    A stronger internet connection will be helpful but we will try to ensure materials are available for slower bandwidths as well. No other computer programs are necessary.

  • What kind of background do I need for this course? Do I need an economics background?

    The course is open to all and is accessible to students without prior background in the topics; you do not need an economics background.

  • Can I take this class for Columbia University credit?

    No. While we encourage any professors to incorporate this material into their own courses, you cannot take this course on its own for Columbia University credit.


Recommended Background

The course is open to all interested students.