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Sustainable Development and Global Transitions (SDGT)
Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status
Course Description

The course will provide an overview of the concept of sustainable development, including a review of its underlying rationale, theory, evolution, use in various current policy contexts and its critique. Perspectives from sustainability science will be introduced and critically reviewed. We will consider sustainable development as a problem of transition in complex socio-ecological systems mainly through the lens of governance and policy. We will get acquainted in detail with tools and mechanisms, such as sustainability indicators, assessments, scenarios and strategies. We will explore how these could be used to inform the articulation of goals and visions and the construction of adaptive transition pathways, with an explicit link to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and related implementation mechanisms. We will discuss mechanisms in the multilateral system focused on the SDGs, including the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Throughout the course conceptual points will be illustrated with practical examples at various – ecosystem, community, national or international – scales and in different sectors. The course will combine lectures with various interactive elements, including small group work, micro-exercises, and a debate about the future of sustainable development as a concept and practice. An individual course assignment will focus on reviewing and critiquing SDG implementation strategies in a given country. 

Learning Outcomes
  1. Be familiar with the underlying rationale for sustainable development as a science and policy domain and a field of practice;
  2. Understand the context of global SD goals and transitions;
  3. Know some of the key analytic and policy tools related to SD;
  4. Have learnt to apply the SD framework for the analysis of socio-ecological system in a place-based context;
  5. Familiarity with global sustainability issues and key political processes.

Class participation, contribution to online discussions (20%)

Assignment (60%)

Presentation of assignment (20%)



Course Level
Course Open to
Students on-site
Academic Year
US Credits
ECTS Credits
Course Code