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University of Michigan

Sustainability and Development

University of Michigan via Coursera MasterTrack


Across the courses offered in this program you will learn how to understand and explain the world’s most pressing sustainability and development challenges. You will be able to critically analyze the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they relate to these pressing global challenges as well as learning how to use core frameworks and evidence to assess and develop effective solutions.

In addition, you’ll complete the certificate with a course consisting of two real-world projects which will give you hands-on experience in the field. In the first project, you will analyze three Michigan Sustainability Cases and synthesize their lessons for sustainability and development. In the second project, you will create your own Michigan Sustainability Case on the [Gala case]( creation interface and develop an instructional component for the case of your choosing with a faculty member.

To receive the MasterTrack® program certificate you will need to complete six courses. Three of which are required for all students and three others of your choosing.

Want to learn more about this program? Visit the [University of Michigan website. ](


Course 1: Beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) : Addressing Sustainability and Development (Required for all students)
- This course focuses on addressing the twin challenges of achieving sustainability and development through actionable knowledge. Rather than sustainability being a qualifier of development (e.g. sustainable development), Sustainability and Development as a field of study views the two concepts as co-equal fields of inquiry and action. You will receive an introduction to some of the world’s most pressing problems along with understanding applicable theories, assessing relevant evidence, and employing skills necessary for innovating solutions.

Course 2: Methods/ Skills in Sustainability and Development (Required for all students)
- The broad objective of this course is to learn about some of the most common methods that are useful in the field of sustainability and development. These methods will help you to collect, visualize, and analyze data, measure the impact of policies and programs, assess the life cycle impacts of given products, and understand how institutions can influence sustainability and development. All of these methods will help learners better synthesize evidence to evaluate progress on sustainability and development efforts.

Course 3: Poverty to Wellbeing
- This course will introduce you to the nature, extent, and scope of poverty as it has been understood over time, the efforts to reduce poverty along with the extent to which they have been successful, and how it can be possible to achieve the elimination of poverty in the near future.

Course 4: Pathways to Zero Hunger
- In this course you will discuss the different challenges that food systems face and will learn to identify sustainable ways to overcome these challenges. You will also hone in food production and the fact that it is increasingly challenged by environmental change including climate change and natural resource degradation.

Course 5: Good Health and Well-Being: Behaviours, Structures and Spillovers
- In this course you’ll understand the coevolution of diseases and humans in terms of individual practices, political economies, and ecological change as these combine to produce current challenges to human health, and emerging global health solutions. You’ll also understand and attain change toward meeting SDG 3 on Good Health and Well Being.

Course 6: Gender and Quality Education for Sustainability
- In this course you will discuss how imperialism both mined and marginalized indigenous knowledge around the world; colonial administrations enshrined highly unequal access to education along gender, class and cultural lines, while also building powerful complexes of highly specialized knowledge, intellectual property, and practical networks for diffusing technical know-how. You will be able to identify trends in contemporary education that addresses or attempts to “undo” those historical structures of inequity beyond the current SDG4 efforts. You will also develop an understanding of the gaps and omissions that exist in current SDG framing and the limitations of current indicators and criteria for measuring progress. Overall, you will have an understanding of how the cutting edge of sustainability education today acknowledges, addresses, and adapts beyond these histories, creating modes of learning that link knowledge together, and to practice, in new ways.

Course 7: Climate Change and Adaptation: Adaptive Development in a Changing World
- The aim of this course is to provide students with a solid grounding in the social dimensions of climate-driven adaptation and the way it intersects with different global processes shaping livelihoods, especially in less developed regions. In examining the social dimensions of climate change, the course will introduce students to the key concepts and areas of knowledge related to climate impacts, vulnerability and resilience, historical human adaptations to climate variability, changes, and impacts, and future adaptation needs and adaptive development.

Course 8: Conservation and Sustainable Development Conservation and Sustainable Development
- Across the world, scholars, practitioners and advocates for biodiversity conservation are wrestling with how to maintain and enhance biodiversity without adversely affecting local and indigenous peoples. Various approaches have been tried including, most recently, offering incentives for conservation. Generally falling under the rubric of payments for ecosystem services, this approach has yielded various outcomes depending on spatial, social, political and ecological contexts. In this course, we will explore these contexts and outcomes based on a number of case studies.

Course 9: Capstone Projects (Required for all students)
- This course will help you learn how to analyze and think through decision problems. Case studies are used ubiquitously in many fields of professional education, including business, medicine, public health, law, and social work. In fields where decision making for achieving organizational and community goals is of central importance, case studies provide a means to gain critically useful experiential learning skills. This course will focus on case studies that concern sustainability and development. These case studies are designed to encourage readers to use available information and background resources to arrive at decision recommendations. More importantly, the course will guide you with step-by-step instructions to create decision case studies yourself. Indeed, the objective of the course is that you will learn the key elements of what is involved in creating decision case studies in the field of sustainability and development. It will walk you through the most important elements of a decision case — a decision problem, a decision maker, a set of options, evaluative criteria, and analysis to identify a recommendation for the decision maker. By working through the materials for this course you will gain familiarity with how to make decisions in an uncertain and complex environment.


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