SOS323 - Sustainable Urban Dynamics

As the world is becoming increasingly urbanized, cities are also facing an unprecedented rate of socio-economic, demographic, cultural and environmental changes. Cities have become complex and dynamic places where socio-economic, ecological, and infrastructural factors constantly interact and affect each other. Such rapid changes in urban population and urban areas are also threatening to overwhelm scarce resources such as, food, energy, and freshwater. Unfortunately, the existing urban infrastructure and services have not kept the pace with the recent urban growth, resulting in further socio-economic divides, pollution, congestion, and disruptions in essential services that are degrading quality of life in many cities. More importantly, these impacts of urbanization are being felt differently across different parts of the world as well as among different social groups within the cities. This course provides a comprehensive overview of urbanization history, socio-economic changes in cities, and key theories and concepts of urban dynamics, along with a set of strategies that have been found useful in designing cities as sustainable socio-ecological systems.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

The main goal of this course is to enable students to learn how cities and urban areas are formed and governed, what are the dynamic factors—social, ecological and technological--that create many sustainability challenges to them, and how those challenges can be resolved.

Upon successful completion of the course learning modules, students will be able to:

Fundamental knowledge of urban dynamics

  • Compare theories or models of urban formation and urbanization trends.

  • Explain forms of municipal management and governance.

  • List internal and external forces that shape the urban design and affect city governance.

  • List and define “systems” that operate in and affect the sustainability of most cities.

Analysis of urban sustainability problems and solutions

  • Describe major sustainability challenges faced by most cities.

  • Propose or evaluate potential solutions to specific sustainability challenges.

Urban dynamics in a global context

  • Describe positive and negative contributions that cities make to achieving global sustainability.

  • Compare sustainability challenges faced by a specific major U.S. city and a major foreign city.