Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2024



Course Number


Course Description

The Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are the defining crises of our times. The pandemic has laid bare the fault lines in unequal access to healthcare, vaccines, resources, safe workplaces, and ability to work from home. Socially and economically disadvantaged groups are most at risk of contracting the virus as a result and are also most at risk from the impacts of climate change. Unmanaged growth and a singular focus on the economy aggravates climate change, which in turn hurt growth and development. What sound, evidence-based policies can we use to address these dilemmas?

This undergraduate course in sustainable development analyses the interplay of economic, social, and environmental goals. Economic development is important for raising living standards, but development policies don't automatically ensure that all groups in a society gain. Nor do they necessarily preserve opportunities for current or future generations. Sustainable development policies are meant to minimize environmental damage, foster environmental protection, and ensure that growth aimed to raise living standards is socially inclusive.

The course also recognizes that countries are at different stages of development. Therefore, developed and developing countries' preferences for and their ability to undertake sustainable development will vary. Keeping these constraints in mind, we will learn and apply economic frameworks to address the problems of reducing poverty, allocating resources over time, accommodating trade-offs between development and the environment, and solving collective action problems in undertaking sustainable practices.

Textbook readings will be supplemented with relevant policy briefs and academic or magazine articles as well as video briefs and podcasts through the semester. The course is both lecture-based and discussion-driven, giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their grasp of concepts and to engage with issues further through questions and dialog. Coursework includes both individual assignments, and a solution-oriented group project.