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Africa: Sustainable Development for All?

Learn what progress Africa has made towards inclusive development and consider challenges post-2015 in this free online course.

15,271 enrolled on this course

African mothers will their children
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Africa as a continent is rich in natural resources and minerals and has increasing rates of wealth in some countries. The course will explore why there continues to be many sub-Saharan African countries which perform poorly on development indicators for reducing poverty, hunger and unemployment and improving maternal health and access to quality reproductive health services.

Explore sustainable development and the post-2015 agenda

This free online course will assess progress made to date in the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals and will provide information from key people in international development to discuss whether the proposed UN post-2015 sustainable development agenda can be achieved in sub-Saharan Africa.  The course is designed for anyone with a passion for humanity, human rights and sustainable development. You will learn to think critically and communicate effectively about development stories, past, present and future.

We will introduce the key concepts in sustainable development, the historical background and current context. You will look at the organisations involved in development and how they have changed over time.

We will also explain how development data are constructed, and the strengths and limitations of different types of evidence. We will highlight who has been counted in development data, how robust the data are and who is missing from data sets.

Learn with experts in sub-­Saharan Africa

You will learn with experts from the University of Aberdeen Centre for Sustainable International Development (CSID), who have extensive experience of living and working in sub­-Saharan Africa.

They will bring a multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary perspective to the course, recognising that a range of approaches is required, to tease out the complexity of sustainable development and help us understand why inclusive development has not yet been realised.

The course will use academic texts alongside films, music and novels, enabling you to analyse different ways of seeing, listening and experiencing received wisdoms about development. You will also get the opportunity to discuss your own experiences with other learners worldwide and to learn from experts from the UN, national governments and development partners from sub-Saharan Africa. These experts include: Madame Zainab Hawa Bangura (UN Secretary-General Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict); Dr Agnes Binagwaho (Minister of Health, Rwanda); Sir Malcolm Bruce (Chair of the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on International Development); and an ex-President of Nigeria, Olesegun Obasanjo.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 15 seconds We live in exciting times, when over six million people have been involved in global consultations about new, sustainable development goals. These goals, if implemented in an equitable manner, would transform people’s lives, protect the planet, and also eradicate poverty by 2030. My name is Hilary Homans. I’m the Director of the Centre for Sustainable International Development, at the University of Aberdeen. I’ve worked in about 50 countries globally, from community level upwards, with civil society, bilateral agencies, United Nations organisations, and with academia. In this short online course, we focus on the feasibility of sub-Saharan Africa achieving the new sustainable development goals, given the historical context, cultural diversity, and wealth of natural resources.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds In particular, we will be asking why in sub-Saharan Africa are some countries performing poorly on development indicators for poverty, hunger, unemployment, and maternal health, whilst other countries are forging ahead. We explore this question, drawing on the interdisciplinary expertise of 12 staff at the University of Aberdeen, from historians to rice geneticists, as well as experts from the United Nations, national governments, and development partners. I can now understand the challenges, why it’s so difficult for Africa catch up. Whatever else we may have, or we may do, if governance is not taken care of, it will amount to not much. If your pillar of your development are the people, then you reduce poverty, because the majority of the people in Africa are poor.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 seconds So you target the majority. You have to find partners you can work with. Some countries, frankly, it’s very difficult. In which case, you have to go through civil society partners, maybe local, maybe international. But the objective, in the end, is to try and build the capacity in those countries to solve their own problems, to create economic growth that can fund tax base that will deliver health and education, and all those other things. The course is designed for anyone with a passion for humanity, human rights, and sustainable development. You will learn to think critically about development stories, past and present, to help you understand the complexity of development, and the danger of a single story.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 seconds You will learn about the importance of development data, how robust the data are, and who is missing data sets, what we call the missing millions. The course uses academic texts, music, films, novels, to enable you to explore different ways of listening, seeing, and experiencing received wisdoms about development. We look forward to working with you, to be able to look at whether or not sustainable, inclusive development can become a reality. I’m hugely excited to hear about this course, Africa, sustainable development for all, and asking that very, very pertinent question. What I really like about the course is that it’s interdisciplinary, that you are bringing in people and academics from a number of different disciplines.

Skip to 3 minutes and 50 seconds Because in Scotland we have a huge amount of expertise, have expertise across a variety of disciplines. And where we can make a contribution is through our innovation. And where is innovation fostered? Much of it in our universities.

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.

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for anyone with a passion for humanity and sustainable development. You could be a current undergraduate; a gap year student interested in volunteering or interning in international development; or someone working in development (or interested in doing so) in the public, private or third sectors.

Who will you learn with?

My interest in development began in the ‘80s living and working for 9 years in sub-Saharan Africa. Since then I have worked in 48 countries globally with NGOs, in academia and for DfiD and the UN.

Who developed the course?

University of Aberdeen

University of Aberdeen is the 3rd oldest Scottish and 5th oldest UK University. With 14500 students from 120 countries, it is a world leader in medical research, energy, environment, law and business.

Learning on FutureLearn

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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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