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: