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Ethical Cities: Shaping the Future of Your City

Understand the problems cities face and learn how they can be resolved with ethical solutions.

4,872 enrolled on this course

On our urbanizing planet, we need inclusive city economies that work for all.

Who runs your city? What makes your city liveable? Using stories from cities around the world, this course will introduce you to the importance of ethics in civic leadership, planning, and business, and citizen engagement.

Explore the problems that cities face, and understand the concept of an ‘ethical’ city

You’ll look in-depth at the challenges facing cities, considering your own city, or the one nearest you. We’ll ask you to share your stories so you can connect with other learners and compare your experiences in order to recognise and understand the problems cities face. You will explore the power of various entities in your city and examine how they help solve or exacerbate local problems.

You will delve into the notion of the ethical city and how it adds value to professionals and citizens – especially in terms of how it may help to improve the quality of urban life. In doing this you will also get a sense of the broader context of issues like social justice, corporate responsibility and ethical practice at the city level.

Get practical insights into sustaining an ethical city

You’ll be introduced to a range of new ideas, tools, and techniques (including practical examples, video stories, expert interviews, and other resources) to inspire you to:

  • Become involved in transformation at the city level.
  • Engage in an international community of like-minded citizens.
  • Take an interest in civic politics in order to enact change.
  • Understand corporate social responsibility in relation to city governance.
  • Think critically about the importance of the ethical city in terms of responding to contemporary urban problems like inequality, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, environmental degradation, and corruption.

Together we will examine alternatives to ‘business as usual’ practices that are reshaping the dominant urban agendas in more ethical directions.

Learn from experts in ethical cities

RMIT is a global university, and world leader in terms of its research and education around the built environment. RMIT hosts the UN Global Compact Cities Programme and many of our educators have first-hand experience in urban and environmental planning and social change including in Europe, Australia, and Japan.

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds We are living in the urban age.

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 seconds The majority of people on this planet now live and work in cities. Cities are the like the beating heart of our economy. They are places of enterprise, innovation and creativity. But cities are also the sites of many social, cultural and ecological problems. If we want to make our cities more liveable, then we need to ask ourselves what can we do to positively transform our urban way of life?

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds Cities are fantastic. They are full of life and energy. They are complex and diverse. They invigorate and inspire us. On this course, we take you on a journey inside the workings of some of the world’s most dynamic cities.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds We start by exploring how a city’s ethical framework can influence liveability, why ethics is important, and how can we look at cities through an ethical lens. We’ll find out how local governments, businesses and residents are responding to the problems of today, and we’ll look at the new and exciting solutions they are developing.

Skip to 1 minute and 33 seconds Throughout the course you’ll get the chance to learn about the urban research taking place at RMIT University.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds This course will be perfect for those of you already interested in cities. You don’t need any specialist knowledge or expertise. The course is open to students from anywhere in the world. You’ll become part of a community of scholars sharing your views and joining discussions related to the cities around you.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 seconds By the end of the course, you’ll have a clear understanding of the challenges facing our cities. and how an ethical, principled approach can help resolve them.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 seconds Join us and be a part of shaping the ethical framework for your city.

What topics will you cover?

  • Current challenges facing cities around the world
  • Ethical principles that can form the foundation of an ethical lens through which to evaluate situations and decisions
  • Notion of the ethical city and its added value to professionals and citizens in terms of how it helps improve the quality of urban life
  • Issues of corruption, their impact on development and how they can be combated
  • Characteristics of ethical leaders
  • How operational structures of local government improve or exacerbate local issues
  • How urban planning can improve or degrade urban quality of life
  • Business responsibility in creating and shaping ethical cities
  • New models for ethical leadership, planning, and business
  • Tools for citizen engagement and participation

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...

  • Discuss the current circumstances and challenges facing your city and compare other cities around the world.
  • Explore the notion of the ethical city and its added value to professionals and citizens in terms of how it helps improve the quality of urban life.
  • Develop a framework to evaluate current plans, actions, measures, perspectives, methods, approaches and recipes designed to shape urban development in your city.
  • Evaluate through stakeholder mapping the structures and influence of various entities in your city and how they work to help solve or exacerbate local problems.
  • Reflect upon the broader context of issues like social justice, corporate responsibility and ethical practice at the city level.

Who is the course for?

You don’t need any prior knowledge to take this course but an interest in social change or urban planning might be useful.

Who will you learn with?

Brendan is an urban planner by training based at Osaka University, Japan. His main areas of expertise include ethical cities, sustainability science and research/science communication.

Prof Horne combines research leadership in design and social context at RMIT with participation in projects concerning the environmental, social and policy dimensions of housing and urban environments

John Fien is Professor of Practice in the School of Architecture and Urban Design at RMIT University, Australia. He is interested in social equity issues in urban resilience.

Who developed the course?

RMIT University

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is a global university, with over 80,000 students, specialising in technology, design and enterprise.

  • Established

  • Location

    Melbourne, Australia
  • World ranking

    Top 230Source: QS World University Rankings 2021

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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  • 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
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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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