• Waikato

Sustainable Development Goals: People, Place, and Environment

Explore how local action is the key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and why personal experiences matter.

333 enrolled on this course

The sunset going down and shining through trees

Examine SDGs in the context of the individual

Global sustainability is deemed impossible without local sustainability. On this four-week course, you’ll examine how thoughts and actions by individuals are fundamentally linked to global sustainable goals.

You’ll be introduced to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and discover that when we focus on the everyday experiences of individuals and communities, we can drive transformative change.

Explore the importance of indigenous knowledge

Drawing on the latest dynamic research in social and cultural geography, you’ll connect with current thinking on a range of topics such as food waste, disability, and permaculture.

You’ll also identify the importance of indigenous knowledge, particularly Tikanga Māori (indigeneity) in SDGs. This knowledge will help you understand indigenous approaches to climate justice and how the SDGs link with people, place, and culture.

Discover how the individual impacts sustainable practices

You’ll explore a range of everyday places and spaces to explore why who we are – in terms of gender, ethnicity, indigeneity, class, sexuality, age, disability – impacts sustainable practices.

This understanding will help you gain insights into the ways people and places are critical in achieving sustainable actions.

Learn alongside the experts at the University of Waikato

The course includes interviews with leading Māori scholars, environmentalists, scientists, institutional leaders, and students who are all working towards sustainable futures. You’ll also have the opportunity to engage with other learners to explore personal experiences.

Guided by specialists from the University of Waikato, you’ll finish the course with an understanding of the many ways in which people, families, communities, and nations can work together towards sustainability.


  • Week 1

    Sustainable Development Goals: The importance of place for fair futures

    • Welcome to the course

      We warmly welcome you to the course and cover the big question that drives learning about Sustainable Development Goals: people, place and environment.

    • What do you know about UN SDGs?

      The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty.

    • Culturally distinct paths to sustainability

      Despite the growing recognition and advocacy, the way that culture contributes to each SDG is unclear, but nevertheless, is critically important to reaching the global goals.

    • End of Week 1

      Finish the week with some reflection and a short quiz to consolidate your learning.

  • Week 2

    SDGs close to home: What happens at your place?

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Lynda and Gail invite you into their homes to discuss the SDGs and frame what the week will look like

    • Local and Global SDGs: Bringing them home

      In order to think globally and act locally, let's have a look at the SDGs in and through homes.

    • Let's open the fridge! Everyday food waste in the home

      Home spaces are a good way to start thinking about SDGs, individuals and local contexts. In this activity we investigate what happens to food in your fridge and how this links to the UN SDGs

    • Disability and accessibility

      One of the core mandates in the SDGs is to 'leave no-one behind' LNOB - but what does that look like in our everyday geographies of the home?

    • End of week 2

      During these steps we will create a word-cloud and you can reflect on what we've learned this week.

  • Week 3

    SDGs in urban spaces: Sustainable and inclusive cities?

    • Welcome to Week 3

      Short introductory video from Lynda Johnston for week 3

    • Food poverty and distribution in urban spaces

      What does food poverty look like in Aotearoa New Zealand, a country with a big food basket?

    • Food rescue as climate action in the neighbourhood

      What happens to rescued food? In this section we think about the act of rescuing food and how it directly draws on two SDGs Goal (1) Zero Hunger and Goal (13) Climate Action.

    • Gender politics in city spaces

      UN SDGs outline that one of the goals that is consistently under-functioning is Goal 5 gender equality. Let's have a look at that in the Aotearoa New Zealand context to reflect on a broader agenda than simply equality.

    • End of week 3

      Congratulations you're marching through the weeks! These steps help summarize a week spent thinking about SDGs and urban spaces.

  • Week 4

    Transforming our countries: SDGs at the scale of the nation

    • Welcome to Week Four

      Introduction video for week 4

    • Talking carbon reduction

      In order to reduce climate change we need to look at carbon footprints

    • SDGs and the workplace

      Let's examine what is happening in our places of work and how SDGs are embedded into the institutional context of universities.

    • Indigenous approaches to climate justice

      For the UN SDGs to be successful, attention is needed on indigenous knowledge frameworks and how these link to climate justice

    • Dairy Industry and water

      Dairy products and the diary industry are touted as beneficial for achieving the SDGs, but is that the case for Aotearoa New Zealand and how does this link to water?

    • Concluding the course

      Congratulations you're almost there! We wrap up the course and reflect upon what we've learnt together.

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...

  • Demonstrate knowledge of Sustainable Development Goals
  • Identify the importance of matāuranga Māori (Indigeneous knowledge) to SDGs
  • Demonstrate how the SDGs link with people, place and environment
  • Explain how SDGs work at different spatial scales
  • Assess the SDGs in a critical manner
  • Evaluate SDG projects and apply them to your local context
  • Engage with other learners to explore personal experience and apply these to SDGs

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in gaining a holistic understanding of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

It will also be beneficial for organisations who wish to align their practices and actions with the SDGs.

Who will you learn with?

Geographer and social justice activist

Who developed the course?

The University of Waikato

Sitting among the top 3% of universities world-wide, The University of Waikato prepares students to think critically and to show initiative in their learning.

  • Established

  • Location

    Waikato, New Zealand
  • World ranking

    Top 380Source: QS World University Rankings 2021

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