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Free UN Sustainable Development Courses

June 27, 2019


Adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals with 169 targets that the UN is committed to working towards through the year 2030 with the hope of creating lasting positive change and freedom in the general areas of People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. The purpose of these goals is to create a framework for development programs that will focus on eradicating poverty, hunger, violence, fear, and disease and promoting literacy, equality, human rights, sanitation and hygiene, education, and physical, mental, and social well-being. These goals are meant to build on the Millennium Development Goals and work towards the three key areas the UN identifies for sustainability, which are economic, social, and environmental development.

The SDG Initiative

In addition to the implementation of the SDGs, 17 various universities have worked to create an initiative to educate learners about the SDGs and how they can contribute to achieving them. Coursera is the primary platform where these courses are offered for the general public in the form of online classes with the hope of increasing participation in the work being done towards these goals. The courses often provide a hands-on experience with an NGO or international organization who is working to achieve the SDGs through their work. The participating universities hope to offer a global education on these goals and ways to get involved.

The SDGs and Courses Offered

The SDGs are 17 goals with a total of 169 targets among them, most of which are meant to be achieved by 2030. These goals strive to work towards sustainable economic, social, and environmental development on a global scale. You can read in-depth reports about these goals and the progress being made towards achieving them at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org. Courses offered through the SDG initiative cover one or more of the goals through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

No poverty (Goal 1)

  • Goal 1—No poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. The hope for this goal is to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 (defined by people living under $1.25/day) and to reduce the number of men, women, and children living in poverty by at least half. It also strives to implement social protections and measures for all people, including increasing and ensuring equal economic and social access for all people and reducing the vulnerability of the poor to situations such as climate-related events and other shocks and disasters.

Available MOOCs on SDG 1:


For a Full List of classes for all of the SDGs, click here.