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Watch Professor Sarah Bekessy introduce this course and explain why bringing nature into cities is essential for future urban planning.
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Cities around the world are facing unprecedented challenges to maintaining basic livability. Many cities are confronted with the problem of ensuring breathable air and adequate food and drinking water. For others, the task is to maintain habitability in the face of climate change, with increasingly serious threats from heat stress and extreme weather events.
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For all major cities of the world, exponential population growth, or in some instances post-industrial decline, has created a critical challenge of how to keep people healthy and happy. Solutions are being urgently sought to reduce stress, anxiety, loneliness, and disconnectedness, and to increase the health and well-being of urban dwellers. My name is Professor Sarah Bekessy, and I am really thrilled to have you join this course to learn about building nature into urban centres.
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It’s exciting to share some of our latest thinking, as well as our expertise in biodiversity-sensitive urban design and the truly remarkable benefits it delivers. This course tackles the big question, how can nature help us overcome the challenges facing cities?
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While it is grounded in our world-class research and our strong connections with industry, government, and many community groups, it’s you, the learner, who will make the course come alive. You have the unique opportunity to join people from all over the world to explore ideas together and learn by understanding each other’s perspectives. There’s a chance for you to make contributions by your tasks to extend, share, and reinforce your learning. You as, learners, bring your diverse life, work, and study experiences, and our educators bring their research and experience. Together, we create the opportunity for transforming cities by embedding nature into the urban fabric.
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We have undertaken research on and also help to deliver cutting-edge examples of both new and retrofitted urban developments, at the edges of cities right through to the urban heart. While the ideas and approaches are new, they are now in strong demand from industry, government, and community groups seeking to enhance nature in cities around the world.
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We begin with the assumption that everyone here comes with their own perspectives and experiences that contribute to co-creating knowledge. And now we welcome you to be part of our learning community.

There is a growing demand for ‘everyday nature’ as part of the solution to the liveability of cities, but it’s more than just urban greening; it’s generating daily doses of biodiversity.

The world is undergoing a surge of urban population growth, with more than half of all people now living in towns and cities. With few exceptions, cities are expected to become bigger and more numerous and as urbanisation accelerates, cities around the world are facing unprecedented challenges to maintaining basic liveability.

A recent example to address these challenges is the New European Bauhaus Initiative launched by the European Commission in 2021. This initiative expresses the EU’s ambition of creating beautiful, sustainable, and inclusive places, products and ways of living and accelerating the green transition to support the regeneration of nature and protect biodiversity.

Reconnecting urban communities with nature has been reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, putting a renewed focus on how we use green public space, underlining the direct link between nature and physical and mental health for all of us.

Welcome to this course about bringing nature into urban centres.

What will you be learning in this course?

In response to the unprecedented challenges facing cities, the big question we’ll be looking at in this course is: ‘How can nature help us overcome the challenges facing cities?’

To answer this, we’ll explore what is meant by nature-based solutions and the benefits of building nature into cities. We’ll explore how nature-based solutions can be designed in cities, and examine what these look like in practice. We’ll also explore the varied ways citizens have engaged in nature-based solutions.

We’ll explore compelling reasons for embracing nature-based solutions for our cities and present promising pathways to achieve this.

Throughout the course, we’ll explore a range of innovative solutions, explore international case studies and hear from a range of urban specialists, including ecologists, planners and architects.

Your learning outcomes

By completing this course, you should be able to:

  • identify the evidence-based impact of building nature into cities
  • investigate the environmental and social impact of nature-based solutions
  • explore approaches to designing and delivering nature-based solutions to address urban challenges
  • recognise how biodiversity impacts human health, wellbeing and environmental resilience

Meet the team

Your educators for this course are Professor Sarah Bekessy, who teaches in environmental studies and sustainability at RMIT University, Dr Holly Kirk

Getting involved

As the educators will not be facilitating this course, a key way to enhance your learning is to participate in the ‘your task’ set by your educators and engage in topic-related conversations with your fellow learners. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • add a post to start or continue a conversation by building on what others are saying
  • use reply to ask a question or make a comment that indicates you’re interested in what someone has said
  • make a comment that links, compares or contrasts different themes in the conversation
  • disagree with a comment in a curious, constructive and compassionate manner.

Your Task

Watch the video from Sarah to discover more about this course.

Take a moment to get to know one another by telling us a little about yourself in the comments. For example, you could describe:

  • Your location, background and interest in bringing nature into urban centres
  • Your motivation for participating in this course and what you hope to get out of it.
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Bringing Urban Nature Into the Cities of Tomorrow

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