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Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of sustainable development and draws upon the most recent developments in the social, policy and physical sciences. It describes the complex interactions between the world economy and the Earth's physical environment, and addresses issues of environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive development. By the end of this course, students will gain a broad overview of the key challenges and potential solutions to achieve development in the 21st century.

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.

You can expect to learn:

  • 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

Materials Provided

The Age of Sustainable Development is a self-paced course. This means that all lecture videos, quizzes, and readings have been uploaded to the platform and are available to you at once. You have until December 31, 2019 at 23:30 UTC (use this time converter to figure out your local time) to complete this course.

The lecture materials provided will be:

      • Course videos: Each week’s lecture has about 5 video “chapters,” each posted as a video lecture.
      • Comprehension questions: To support understanding of each video chapter.
      • Suggested reading: There is no required reading for this course. All suggested readings are listed on the Suggested Readings page. These consist of free links to relevant articles, reports, and book chapters. 
      • Course Textbook: There is an accompanying textbook for this course: The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey Sachs. Please see the Course Textbook page to learn how you can access it for free (or purchase it) online.

Course Engagement

You probably have joined this course not only to learn about sustainable development, but also to build and expand your social and professional networks. To do so, sharing something about yourself with other learners is often an effective way to make contact. Besides, knowing more about someone’s background, objectives etc. provide the necessary context to better appreciate their postings and comments. Feel free to use the Discussions tab to share some information about yourself (e.g. your background, reason for taking this course, things you hope to learn, people you hope to connect with, etc.). You can also use the discussions tab for conversations about course content, and to share other online resources that you find interesting with other learners. The discussion forum only has a "General" thread -- so, all conversations should happen using that discussion thread.

Please note: since this is a self-paced course, the forum will not be managed by any course staff. However, we really do encourage you to take advantage of the discussion forum to engage with one another. You can read more about interacting in the discussion forum in the edX user guide

When posting on the discussion forum, please:

    • Be respectful at all times. It is OK to disagree with the viewpoints of other people, but express yourself in a constructive and polite manner.
    • Accept feedback and criticism. You learn more from self-reflection.
    • Refrain from posting any personal attacks. Focus on the issue/problem and never on any individual or group of individuals.

Questions? Concerns?

Please be sure to direct any technical questions  about the course to edX using the "Help" button at the top of your page! 

Questions about course content or the SDG Academy in general should be addressed to, using the subject line "ASD course". 

Course Pre-Requisites

There are no pre-requisites for this course. 

Course Grading Policy

    • Learners who choose the Verified Track have access to the course assessments, which consist of a Mid-term Exam (15 questions) and a Final Exam (20 questions). 
    • The Mid-term Exam is worth 40% of the course grade; The Final Exam is worth 50% of the course grade; The final 10% of the course grade comes from Participation (completing pre- and post-course surveys).
    • Exams may be taken twice.
    • Verified Track learners must score a 70% or higher combined grade (including the Mid-term, Final and Participation) in order to receive a certificate.
    • Learners who choose the Audit Track have access to comprehension questions following each video in order to test and support understanding of the content. Comprehension questions are ungraded but strongly encouraged to maximize understanding of the course content. 

Academic Policy

We expect all learners to adhere to the edX Honor Code when it comes to the completion of SDG Academy courses.