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Urban Sustainability


Module description

Urbanisation now impacts on the way of life of more than half the population of the planet, crucially influencing how society is affected by the current ecological crisis but also how we can respond to the challenges created by climate change. Cities are complex and diverse spaces where access and control of economic, political and environmental resources are highly unequal. A sustainable approach to urban living must account for how the challenges of climate change and rising environmental risk are affected by wider social, economic and political dynamics that are unequally experienced across geographies and social groups.

In this module we respond to the challenges created by the complex relations between urbanisation and the climate crisis by critically examining the theory and practice of urban sustainability in different contexts. We will explore theoretical approaches to urban sustainability, apply those conceptual tools to distinct environmental and social challenges, and learn about the limitations and strengths of adaptative solutions, environmental policies and initiatives.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction: What is urban sustainability?
  • Theoretical approaches
    • Mainstream approaches to urban sustainability
    • Urban planning and sustainability
    • Critical approaches
  • Urban challenges
    • Environmental resources
    • Urban infrastructures
    • Environmental risk
  • Sustainability in practice
    • Policy approaches
    • Market approaches
    • Community-led approaches

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand and apply different theoretical approaches to urban sustainability
  • demonstrate knowledge of the key ecological and social challenges impacting urban populations
  • understand how urban environmental challenges are affected by wider political, social and cultural dynamics
  • understand how urban inequalities influence exposure to environmental risk
  • understand the strengths and limitations of different policy, market and community-led approaches to urban sustainability
  • demonstrate knowledge of how socio-environmental challenges and potential sustainable solutions vary across different geographies
  • demonstrate a range of study skills including: critical thinking, writing a coherent argument and referencing.