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Green Cities: A Sustainable Future

Course Description

For the first time in history, the majority of the world’s people live in cities. Cities are major contributors to emissions and resource consumption but also centers of technological and socio-cultural innovation. Cities can be at the forefront of actions for sustainable development – working with nature instead of against it.

This class will review concepts of sustainable urbanism and the systems that comprise it: open space, mobility, food and water, energy and waste. Our main focus, which reflects its methodology, is based on two premises: (a) the role and importance of Place as an impediment or facilitator of urban sustainability and (b) the fundamental part played by citizens’ participation in the commitment to sustainable policies and practice. Through these perspectives, students will comprehend the principles informing sustainable urban planning and the socio-cultural, economic, and political challenges faced by its promoters. Our approach is both global and local – we will use Perugia as our case-context while considering broader issues and analyzing case-studies both in Europe and in the US, to compare approaches, goals, and policies. 

The course will be carried out with the collaboration of the College of Agriculture of the University of Perugia (DSA3) and will also focus on the various roles played by the vegetation within the context of a densifying city.

Starting from the definition of the ecosystem services provided by “nature in the city,” the course will approach the ever-transforming context of Nature-Based Solutions as a framework of reference and as an opportunity to observe specific case studies, as well as to apply this approach to practical interventions in the city of Perugia.

Course Objectives
By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Appreciate and understand the relationships between people, places, values, and actions in building sustainability. Critically understand the principles informing sustainable urban planning and the socio-cultural, economic, and political challenges faced by its promoters.
  • Compare urban systems all over the world through the analysis of case studies for their effectiveness in implementing policies, technologies, and organizational models that support urban sustainability
  • Consolidate the understanding of the course activities and theory, and offer an opportunity to explore connections between in-class and experiential learning.
  • Integrate experiential learning activities with classroom knowledge to communicate using systematic, public-facing, and ethical scholarship with twenty-first-century research and communication tools
  • Understand and apply skills acquired in sustainable urban development approaches, nature-based solutions, and community participation methods. These include methods for interacting with neighborhood actors, local partners and other stakeholders, and basic design, construction, and process skills.
  • Get to know well, and understand, Perugia’s historic neighborhoods in its urban context – its history, places, people and recent efforts in improving its livability
  • Assess student’s knowledge and ability to identify key terms, concepts, and principles related to sustainability in urban environments and the analysis of case studies