Sustainable Development

University of Melbourne

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Sustainable Development

  • Host University

    University of Melbourne

  • Location

    Melbourne, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Design, Environmental Sustainability

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Completion of 25 points of first year geography and GEOG20003: Environmental Politics and Management or the approval of the subject coordinator.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Everyone knows what ?Sustainable Development? is, but if you stop to think, it may become less clear. Sustainable development has become a chameleon, suiting different needs and fulfilling different roles for different people with different interests. In this subject, we will explore this appealing-yet-slippery concept with the aim of deciding whether it is a suitable concept with which to explore the cultural, environmental, and economic challenges facing society and future generations.
    In addition to the debates over sustainable development, this subject will provide students with the skills needed to examine, analyse, and report on challenges related to their interests. At its heart, the subject explores the primary question of sustainable development, which is whether it can be useful in a world (seemingly) approaching numerous catastrophic tipping points. The climate is changing, the oceans are acidifying, the soils cannot keep producing our food, and wealth is being concentrated amongst a smaller and smaller segment of the world. Is sustainable development helpful in understandings, and ideally changing, this situation?
    There are also more practical considerations surrounding the debate over sustainable development. Some might be interested in having a greater, positive impact on the world through development projects, micro-credit, or volunteering. Is sustainable development helpful? Can the concept help people actively engaged in improving our world (or at least trying)? Does it help ensure that their efforts are beneficial and not perverted by wider interests and processes? It is also worth considering if ?Sustainable Development? might not be better thought of as an analytical framing: as a way of pulling apart problems or projects in order to better understand or assess their impact on ecological sustainability, development, or economics?
    In this subject we will review the history of sustainable development, which draws together literature from Geography, Sociology, Engineering, Psychology, Economics, and the Sciences. We will explore the critiques of sustainable development, and force ourselves to consider whether it is possible, practical, or even useful in the ?real world?. We will explore several key challenges, using sustainable development as a lens. And finally and most creatively, we will attempt to reinterpret sustainable development in a world of growing inequality.
    For more information see:

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.