Featured module: Sustainable cities

With over half the world’s population living in urban areas, academic, policy and media debates are focused intently on the global challenges of achieving sustainable development. Governments, city planners, local authorities and citizens aim to balance the economic, social and cultural opportunities that cities can provide alongside concerns over environmental degradation, resource management, climate change, social inequalities and poverty.

In this module, we explore these tensions in relation to how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are influencing the sustainability practices of cities around the world. To explore the issues mentioned above, the module is themed around three distinct approaches to urban sustainability:

  • First, we examine the low carbon eco-city and the ways in which cities respond to global warming and climate change, including carbon reduction strategies, SMART cities, and infrastructural initiatives, as well as ways in which behavioural change is essential to the success of these approaches.
  • Second, we investigate the resilient city, specifically the preparedness and capacity of places to deal with external threats (e.g., impacts on infrastructure, economy and social cohesion). In this part of the module, strategic and inclusive community planning, impacts of biosecurity on public health and planning for future resilience are assessed.
  • Third, we consider the liveable city and the approaches for making cities a positive living experience. Here we focus on the equitability of housing as well as the design of the public realm and green spaces to consider the influence of aesthetics on society’s health and wellbeing.

Drawing upon empirical case studies from across the world, students taking this module will be introduced to a variety of sustainability contexts that will help support them throughout their assessments. Sustainable development and adaptation to/mitigation of climate change are—and will continue to be—key knowledge, skills and employability competencies for many organisations into the future.

Topics covered:

  • Cities in a global context
  • The low carbon city
  • The resilient city
  • The liveable city

Elizabeth Quay and downtown Perth, Western Australia

Contemporary urban development in the ‘world’s most isolated capital city’. This was also the destination of one of our recent field courses.