• Trinity College Dublin

Achieving Sustainable Development

Explore the challenges of sustainable development. See the impact of UN Sustainable Development Goals on real people.

16,956 enrolled on this course

A collage of four images; a woman in a rice paddy field, a child being inoculated, two men smiling and shaking hands, and a woman smiling and listening to music on a set of headphones.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Consider the impact that UN Sustainable Development Goals could have

Governments of the world have signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a UN initiative for international development. They are targets for improving the world by 2030, including: health, environment, education, and security. But will they have an impact on the lives of people?

On this course you will critically consider key SDGs including peace, healthcare, sustainable cities, and water and sanitation. You will examine the ways in which development really can be sustainable, its impact on communities, and how it can make a difference to real lives.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds The greatest challenges facing our globalised world today include protecting human rights, overcoming poverty, disease, and exclusion, and helping nations to achieve self-determination. But today, we also face challenges that previous generations didn’t have to consider, the need to support a livable earth and the mass migration of people across borders. The extreme connectedness of our modern world means we cannot fail to recognise the significance of these global issues on the lives of individuals and to fully appreciate their impact on human dignity. In September 2015, the governments of the world signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals, a universal UN framework for global development. In December of the same year, they also signed global agreements on climate change.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds In doing so, governments renewed their commitment to the eradication of poverty and hunger while also addressing patterns of unsustainable consumption of our natural resources. The goals are universal and global in their reach, a transformative change that recognises that all countries, North and South, are really unfinished products, continuously evolving in an effort to achieve the well-being, flourishing, and prosperity of their peoples. Together, these 17 goals and actions on climate change have set over 160 targets for improving our world by 2030– in areas such as health, environment, education, and security.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds Now, citizens, scholars, and human beings everywhere who want a different world and a better future must find a way to make good on these pledges, to turn those words into actions, and determine if those actions can have an impact on the lives of real people. What is impact? What does it look like? How do we measure it? What will the impact of the goals be on peacekeepers in Colombia, women seeking employment in Uganda, or health workers in Ireland? Together, over the next four weeks with researchers from Trinity College Dublin, we invite you to critically examine these key goals– peace, health care, our environment, and economic equality.

Skip to 2 minutes and 29 seconds We will examine how these link together and how they can make a difference to our lives. Effectively tackling challenges that are interrelated in our everyday experience– such as climate change, peace, equality, and health– will be explored through case studies. We will discuss the importance of sustainable development goals from the perspectives of people living and working around the world, focusing on the lives of people living in poverty. This course is for anyone interested in the future of our world and how we can improve it.

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds We invite you to join us at TIDI, Trinity’s International Development Initiative, with researchers from peace studies, medicine, engineering, and economics, to explore concepts at the heart of sustainable global development, and to reflect on what it means to take on and attempt to solve these challenges. Together, we will share our understanding of how to make the sustainable development goals a reality.

What topics will you cover?

  • Week 1 - Critically explore the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework
  • Week 2 - Examine why SDG 3 “Good Health and Wellbeing” is critical for achieving sustainable development.
  • Week 3 - Introducing the challenges to SDG6 “Clean water and sanitation” and SDG 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities”.
  • Week 4 - Understand how the impact of sustainable development can be measured.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify and analyse some of the root causes of underdevelopment from a multidisciplinary perspective
  • Investigate case studies of sustainable development challenges including conflict resolution in Sri Lanka, HIV healthcare in Uganda, and sanitation in India
  • Reflect on the challenges to achieving sustainable development
  • Discuss why and how violence and conflict hinder sustainable development
  • Explain why sanitation is key to sustainability and ensuring good health
  • Explore the challenges to achieving adequate healthcare for all
  • Measure the impact of development though a Ugandan case study
  • Discuss the challenges to achieving sustainable development through five key areas; peace, healthcare, water and sanitation, gender, and sustainable cities

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in the future of our world, and how we can improve it. It might be of specific interest to students all over the world who are planning to live and work in developing countries, and to development stakeholders including people in NGOs, governments and communities.

Who will you learn with?

Professor in Economics at the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin and
Chair of the Trinity International Development Initiative (TIDI)

Assistant Professor in International Peace Studies, Trinity College Dublin

Professor in Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin. My research interests involve studying the fate and transport of both air and water-borne pollutants in the natural & built environment.

Associate Professor in Medical Education at Trinity College Dublin and Consultant in Pharmacology and Therapeutics at St. James' Hospital in Dublin. I am also Lead Academic on the NOURISH Project.

Assistant Professor in Smart and Sustainable Urbanism at the Geography Department, Trinity College Dublin.

I explore how smart and eco-city projects are cultivated and implemented around the world

I am the Ussher Assistant Professor in Development Economics at Trinity College Dublin. My research focuses on urban, labor and public economics. Most of my work employs big spatial datasets.

I work in health policy and am affiliated to TCD School of Medicine. My research interests centre around global health, organisational development and leadership for improving public services

I am a Professor in Molecular Medicine in Trinity College. My main research interest is in the genomics of complex diseases and I am Director of the Molecular Medicine postgraduate programme.

Who developed the course?

Trinity College Dublin

Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s highest ranked university. It promotes a diverse, interdisciplinary environment to nurture ground-breaking research, innovation, and creativity.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

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  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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