Creating Green Cities & Sustainable Futures
Cornell University 3-credit course taught by Alex Kudryavtsev
The world’s population has recently transformed from mostly rural to mostly urban. Billions of people call cities their home. In cities, urban residents hope to take care of their families, meet friends, get quality education, find gratifying jobs, experience diverse cultures, obtain good healthcare, and live in a sustainable environment. However, rapid urbanization creates unprecedented social and environmental problems that influence human well-being and threaten global sustainability. At the same time, cities address social-ecological problems through innovations in environmental policies, governance, green infrastructure, education, and ecosystem management. Several frameworks describe urban efforts to create a more sustainable urban future – including green urbanism, biophilic cities, smart cities, and sustainable cities – which we collectively refer to as “green cities” frameworks. These frameworks help us understand, analyze, and create sustainable, livable, just, resilient, and biophilic cities.
Through this 3-week course, students will learn about different aspects and dynamics of sustainable cities, and apply these ideas to develop novel approaches that address specific urban social-ecological issues. Learning materials include zoom-based lectures, readings, videos, discussions, individual projects, and group projects. Before each class begins, students will learn from required readings and videos assigned for that day, and post daily reflections. Students will explore independently the topics of their choice during the course, write individual essays that critically integrate ideas from relevant publications, and present their essays in the last week of the course. In addition, students will work in small groups on creative projects that will reflect the deep values that should guide the development of green cities.
Course content, pedagogy, and outcomes:
If you want to take this course in the future, please check the course dates and registration information on the Cornell University's Summer College webpage.
The information I learned from the class is really inspiring, it helps me think critically about today's environmental issue. The essays that I was able to complete with my peers and by myself let me get to research deeper into the topic I am interested in.
I valued the wide range of topics that we covered about environmental, social, and economic problems. But this class also teaches how to be a critical thinker and how to ask important questions.
It was great to delve deeply into a specific component of green cities through the research essay, and to have time to get to know and work with other students.
I really liked the readings that we had, and the breakout discussions that we did. It allowed me to build my own environmental literacy, and generate new ideas along with my peers by creating an ebook at the end of the course.
I truly valued being able to reach out to the professor a few times. He always made sure there were times where students can ask him questions or just want to discuss something. I also valued the structure and organization of the class; it allowed me to learn very effectively.
I would definitely recommend this class to a friend. I loved that it supported various learning styles: from instructor teaching, to collaborating on group articles, to writing individual research essays, to small group discussions. I always felt engaged and valued in the class.
It was little too intense (because of tons of readings at the start of the course, which is necessary), yet enjoyable experience (I learned a lot and had fun learning along with other students). Bitter sweet.
I would give a 10/10 to every evaluation category for this course. I learned so much, grew as a student, made new friends, and just had an great experience overall.