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Columbia University

The Age of Sustainable Development

Columbia University via Coursera


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The Age of Sustainable Development" gives students an understanding of the key challenges and pathways to sustainable development - that is, economic development that is also socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.


  • Course Materials
    • Information about the general course structure and reading list can be found here.
  • What is Sustainable Development?
    • Professor Sachs provides an overview of the challenges the world faces, and introduces the topic of sustainable development.
  • Inequality Around the World
    • Professor Sachs delves into the reasons for and the measurements of inequality between and within countries.
  • A Short History of Economic Development
    • Professor Sachs provides a history of economic development, starting with the Industrial Revolution and ending with the current state of modern economic growth.
  • The History of Inequality
    • Professor Sachs analyzes the intersecting roles of various factors that contribute to some countries advancing while others do not.
  • The MDGs and the End of Extreme Poverty
    • Professor Sachs outlines the pathways for achieving the end of extreme poverty.
  • Growth within Planetary Boundaries
    • Professor Sachs details the various planetary boundaries and their implications for growth dynamics.
  • Human Rights and Gender Equality
    • Professor Sachs delves into the ethics of wealth, poverty and inequality as well as the forces that widen inequalities.
  • Education
    • Professor Sachs provides an overview of the state of modern education, and what needs to be achieved for sustainable development.
  • Universal Health Coverage
    • Professor Sachs provides an overview of the challenges and pathways to achieving universal health coverage.
  • Sustainable Food Supply and the End of Hunger
    • Professor Sachs provides an overview of food security, farm systems, and ecology and reviews what can be done to achieve a sustainable global food supply.
  • Sustainable Cities
    • Professor Sachs looks into what makes a city sustainable, the patterns of urbanization, and pathways for urban resilience around the world.
  • Curbing Climate Change
    • Professor Sachs provides an introduction to the science behind climate change, and describes the negotiations and policies that are necessary to mitigate and prevent the consequences.
  • Saving Biodiversity
    • Professor Sachs reviews the various threats to the world's ecosystem and biodiversity.
  • The SDGs
    • Professor Sachs recounts the history of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and describes what is necessary to achieve them.

Taught by

Jeffrey Sachs


4.9 rating, based on 14 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 3640 ratings

Start your review of The Age of Sustainable Development

  • I have never expected to describe a completed online course, let alone an audit-only one, as “pivotal,” but here we are. Is it really possible to make a digestible overview of a complex, yet indispensable, perspective that is Sustainable Development…
  • Teresa Chan
    It's a comprehensive course covering a wide range of topics related to economic development from its history to socioeconomic, geopolitical issues that threaten the future of our planet. Professor Sachs has provided an in-depth analysis of the situation and insight into measures and actions to cope with climate change and biodiversity... It's a course highly recommended for politicians, policy makers in urban and rural designs and anyone who has an interest in protecting our environment and who cares for our future generations.
  • Anonymous
    Terrific course if you're interested or curious about Sustainable Development. Simple, focussed and clear explanations of theories and detailed examples to understand makes this course a great learning experience.
  • Elizabeth Simmons
    I have a background in sustainable development and still found this course informative and fascinating. This course is full of facts that are equally mind-boggling and illuminating. This course covers the basics of sustainable development, whilst still providing enough depth to understand the intricate technical and political difficulties facing sustainable development.
  • Profile image for Ana Kin Sky Walker
    Ana Kin Sky Walker
    Jeffrey Sachs is incredibly knowledgable and, as a bonus, very pleasant to listen to. This course was incredibly interesting and informative and provided me with a fantastic overview of the way the world has been and is being shaped, and where it is headed. This course included some of the most interesting graphs I have ever seen, exceptionally interesting.
  • Sebastian Ferrari
    Sachs is a wonderful profesor, and the exams are full of very interesting databases! You dont need to be an expert to join into these amazing clases that talk about development and the chalenges for all the people of the world.
  • The course is simple and easy to follow. Prof. Sach is a good story-teller and state the problem of modern world in a very simple and clear manner. Even a beginner can easily follow the course content and have a good understanding on the sustainable devleopment
  • Anonymous
    A great course on sustainable development, what it is explained from the view of
    interdisciplinary sciences such as economics, biology, social sciences , physical science
    and more. Highly to recommend to everyone who wants to know what's going on with
    this planet.
  • Anonymous
    I decided to take the course as I wanted to learn more about sustainable development due to work. I believe it was pretty useful and clarified some doubts I had on the topic. Would surely recommend it.
  • Anonymous
    A very interesting class, with a wide range of topics to learn .
  • Sangey

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