Understand and explain the world’s most pressing sustainability and development challenges.
Critically analyze the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they relate to these pressing global challenges.
Use core frameworks and evidence to assess and develop effective solutions.
Learn how to design innovative solutions to core sustainability and development challenges.
Sustainability and development pose unprecedented challenges as human societies grow and seek to ensure future well-being and prosperity. In this program, you will complete courses that will earn you credit towards the University of Michigan’s Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability, if admitted to the program. Through these courses, you’ll learn how to address sustainability and development challenges with actionable knowledge that empowers you to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
You’ll be introduced to the main theoretical currents in Sustainability and Development as a field of study with an in-depth understanding of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the methods and skills necessary for designing innovative solutions to sustainability and development problems.
In addition to committing 6-8 hours of weekly study over a period of four months, you’ll complete the certificate with a course consisting of two projects. In the first project, you will analyze three Michigan Sustainability Cases and synthesize their lessons for sustainability and development. In the second project, you will create your own Michigan Sustainability Case on the Gala case creation interface and develop an instructional component for the case of your choosing with a faculty member. You can use your Sustainability and Development MasterTrack Certificate as a pathway to the associated Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability in the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan.
Acting to Eliminate Poverty
Historically, poverty has been a feature of all societies, but never before in human history have societies held the possibility of eliminating poverty. This course will introduce you to the nature, extent, and scope of poverty as it has been understood over time, the efforts to reduce poverty along with the extent to which they have been successful, and how it can be possible to achieve the elimination of poverty in the near future.
Pathways to Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
Access to affordable and sustainable modern energy is fundamental to human well-being. In this course, you will examine energy access in a global perspective and consider factors that have contributed to and hindered sustainable energy transitions.
Conflict, Security, and Development
Conflicts are often diagnosed as violent events that are largely ahistorical and devoid of appropriate social, cultural, economic, and political contextualization. Conflicts are also seen as the absence of security, yet the relationships between conflict and security are complex. The reasons for conflicts around development issues vary widely. However, over the last several years, scholars have begun to understand conflict through different lenses which help to unveil the underlying factors that create conflicts and which allow for conflicts to perpetuate. This course will examine some of these dimensions, particularly in relation to environmental conflicts and focus on the etiology of these events around environmental objects such as diamonds, oil, forests, and water.
Overcoming Inequality and Polarization
Inequality in different societies takes many forms from the social and political to the economic and material to the overt and implicit. This course will examine how inequality has changed over time, the relationship between inequality and wellbeing, and the factors that affect levels of inequality in different societies.
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Across the world, scholars, practitioners and advocates for biodiversity conservation are wrestling with how to maintain and enhance biodiversity without adversely affecting local and indigenous peoples. Various approaches have been tried including, most recently, offering incentives for conservation. Generally falling under the rubric of payments for ecosystem services, this approach has yielded various outcomes depending on spatial, social, political and ecological contexts. In this course, we will explore these contexts and outcomes based on a number of case studies.
Improving Food Security
More than 815 million people go hungry each year, yet there is more than enough food currently produced to feed over 10 billion people. In this course, we examine the extent of hunger across the globe and the different ways hunger is measured. We also discuss ways to improve food security and reduce hunger over the coming decades.
Global Environmental Change and Sustainable Food Systems
Food production is being increasingly challenged by environmental change including climate change and natural resource degradation. In this class, we discuss the different challenges our food systems face over the coming decades and sustainable ways that we may be able to overcome these challenges.
Climate Change and Adaptation: Adaptive Development in a Changing World
The aim of this course is to provide students with a solid grounding in the social dimensions of climate-driven adaptation and the way it intersects with different global processes shaping livelihoods, especially in less developed regions. In examining the social dimensions of climate change, the course will introduce students to the key concepts and areas of knowledge related to climate impacts, vulnerability and resilience, historical human adaptations to climate variability, changes, and impacts, and future adaptation needs and adaptive development.
Good Health and Well-Being: Behaviors, Structures, and Spillovers
To understand and attain change toward meeting SDG 3 on Good Health and Well Being, we will draw from biological and cultural anthropology to consider the coevolution of diseases and humans in terms of individual practices, political economies, and ecological change as these combine to produce current challenges to human health, and emerging global health solutions.
Methods & Skills in Sustainability and Development: Program Evaluation
Understanding the impact of policies and programs is critical for evaluating progress on sustainability and development efforts. This course reviews approaches to quantitative impact evaluation for highest causal attribution of policy/program impacts and reviews best practices for synthesis of evidence.
This course is required for all students.
Synthesize Lessons From 3 Michigan Sustainability Cases
In this project, you will (i) re-read 3 Michigan Sustainability Cases that you have analyzed in the courses, (ii) prepare a 500-word essay synthesizing their lessons for sustainability and development, and (iii) assess two essays prepared by your peers using an assessment rubric.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
You will learn synthesis, writing, and reviewing skills.
Prepare a Michigan Sustainability Case
In this project, you will (i) work through the Michigan Sustainability Cases on the Gala case creation interface to (ii) create a new case using detailed guidelines for its preparation, (iii) develop an instruction note for the case, and (iv) assess two cases created by your peers using an assessment rubric.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
You will learn how to design an interactive sustainability case, develop instructional learning components for the case, and provide peer-review.