SOS323 - Sustainable Urban Dynamics


SOS 110 and SOS 111 (or PUP 190), with a grade of C or better We live in an urban world.

Course overview

Cities now accommodate more than half of the world’s population. This urbanization trend has enormous sustainability implications, as cities are facing with the unprecedented rate of socio-economic, demographic, cultural and land use changes. While socio-economic, institutional, and technological advances have enabled high rates of productivity growth as well as improved public health, the increasing pace of growth of urban populations is threatening to overwhelm scarce natural resources such as food, energy, and fresh water. Expansion of urban infrastructure and services is failing to keep pace with urbanization leading to higher levels of pollution, congestion, and disruptions in essential services that is degrading quality of life in many cities. These impacts of rapid urbanization are being felt differently across different parts of the world as well as among different social groups within the same region.

This course provides a critical review of these and other forces driving urban growth together with focused discussions on the strategies that show promise of sustainable urban development. We will also use various case studies from the US and other countries. This course will provide students with knowledge and resources to: (1) understand the implications of urbanization for sustainable development; (2) appreciate the drivers of urban growth and its uneven impact on different places and peoples; (3) evaluate the conditions of sustainability in different urban regions using conceptual and analytical tools; and (4) advance critical thinking skills to examine the current debates within sustainability as it relates to urban areas and be able to contribute to that debate.

Required textbooks

  • UN-HABITAT (The United Nations Human Settlements Programme). (2012). State of the World's Cities 2012-2013: Prosperity of Cities. London; Washington, DC: Earthscan.
  • Newman, P., & Jennings, I. (2008). Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems: Principles and Practices. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.