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SDG Academy

Sustainable Development: The Post-Capitalist Order

SDG Academy via edX


Our present system of global capitalism is flawed. While it has produced immense wealth and economic growth in nearly all regions of the world, it has also prioritized profits over people and harmful consumption practices over the needs of our planet. Sustainable development must bring about a new world order to replace the vices of global capitalism, ensuring development, human wellbeing, and environmental security. This course presents Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals as the necessary successor to laissez faire-style capitalism, and emphasizes the urgency of embracing sustainable development objectives to transform our economy into a more reactive, efficient, inclusive, and environmentally-conscious system.

This 8-week massive open online course (MOOC) provides an in-depth look at the shortcomings of our current and past global economies, and shows why and how sustainable development has become the universally-prioritized agenda for the future of our world. The topics covered range from market economics to education, gender equality, international trade, financing, and more.

This course is for:

  • Policy professionals who want to understand frameworks for SDG planning
  • Development practitioners seeking information on goals-based development
  • Advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in economics, development, and other key concepts related to the SDGs


  • Module 1: What is Sustainable Development
    • Chapter 1: What is Sustainable Development?
    • Chapter 2: Why Sustainable Development is Important: Happiness & Wellbeing
    • Chapter 3: Global Capitalism is a Faustian Bargain: Greed in return for prosperity
    • Chapter 4: We are Not Achieving Sustainable Development
    • Chapter 5: Using Sustainable Development as Our Global Framework
  • Module 2: What Do Global Markets Do?
    • Chapter 1: The Traditional Economy
    • Chapter 2: The Market Economy: Specialization, Division of Labor, Entrepreneurship
    • Chapter 3: Production Possibility Frontier
    • Chapter 4: Fair or Unfair: Intragenerational and Intergenerational
    • Chapter 5: The Malthusian Specter
  • Module 3: A Brief History of our Faustian Bargain
    • Chapter 1: Traditional empires
    • Chapter 2: The Age of Discovery
    • Chapter 3: The Industrial Revolution: Population and Production
    • Chapter 4: The American Century
    • Chapter 5: The Age of Convergence
  • Module 4: Capitalism and Injustice
    • Chapter 1: Power (Colonialism and Slavery, Discrimination, Indigenous Rights)
    • Chapter 2: Gender
    • Chapter 3: Class and Inter-Generational Privileges
    • Chapter 4: Skills and Jobs
    • Chapter 5: The Social Democratic Idea
  • Module 5: The SDGs: Leaving No One Behind
    • Chapter 1: Ending Poverty: Skills, Infrastructure, Inclusion, Redistribution
    • Chapter 2: Universal Access to Education
    • Chapter 3: Universal Access to Health Care
    • Chapter 4: Universal Access to Infrastructure
    • Chapter 5: Innovation Economy
  • Module 6: The Tragedy of The Commons
    • Chapter 1: Growth on a Finite Planet: Is it Inherently Impossible?
    • Chapter 2: The Three Big Challenges: Climate Change, Biodiversity, Pollution
    • Chapter 3: The Three Big Transformations: Clean Energy and Industry, Land Use, Smart Cities
    • Chapter 4: Overcoming Obstacles: Technology, Vested Interests, Corruption, Foresight
    • Chapter 5: Malthus Revisited
  • Module 7: From Capitalism to Sustainable Development
    • Chapter 1: Six Sources of Wellbeing
    • Chapter 2: Public Provision of Human Needs
    • Chapter 3: Taming Corporate Greed
    • Chapter 4: Limiting Monopoly Power
    • Chapter 5: Subsidiarity
    • Chapter 6: Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship
  • Module 8: Achieving Sustainable Development
    • Chapter 1: The Two SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals and Social Democratic Governance
    • Chapter 2: Using Goals to Motivate Social Change
    • Chapter 3: Regional and Global Cooperation for Sustainable Development
    • Chapter 4: Engaging All Stakeholders
    • Chapter 5: Financing Sustainable Development
    • Chapter 6: The Ethics of Sustainable Development

Taught by

Jeffrey D. Sachs


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