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Columbia University

Introduction to Sustainable Development

Columbia University via Coursera


This course comprises three modules of Dr. Sachs' longer course, "The Age of Sustainable Development."

This preview course, "Introduction to Sustainable Development" will give you an understanding of the key challenges and pathways to sustainable development - that is, economic development that is also socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.


What is Sustainable Development?
Sustainable development is a central concept for our age. It is both a way of understanding the world and a method for solving global problems

A Short History of Economic Development
The world we’ve seen is divided – startlingly so – with 55 high-income economies (1.3 billion people), 103 middle-income countries (4.9 billion people), and 36 low-income countries (0.8 billion people). How did these vast differences across the world come about? How is it that there are countries like the United States at more than $50,000 dollars per person per year of income, and countries like Niger at under $500 dollars per person per year, less than 100th the income levels of the high-income countries when measured at market exchange rates? This huge gap certainly did not exist two centuries ago.

Growth within Planetary Boundaries
To achieve sustainable development, countries need to achieve three goals simultaneously: economic growth, broad-based social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. While many countries have “solved” the growth puzzles, few have succeeded in achieving all three aspects of sustainable development.

Taught by

Jeffrey Sachs



4.5 rating, based on 8 Class Central reviews

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  • Mohammad Sajjad Haider

    Mohammad Sajjad Haider completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Really spectacular course. Very pertinent and useful information presented in an extremely articulate manner. Jeff Sachs is pretty superb. Highly recommend the course. Even put brief notes on my blog
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