To the Student


This course is about two big questions:

      • What would a better Africa look like?
      • How can I help build it?

The answers to those questions start with you. This course will expose you to many different opportunities to use your interests, talents, and abilities as well as what you are learning in your academic field of study to do something that interests you and can make a real difference in your community. It might even lead to a rewarding job.

Whether you are a biology, broadcasting or business major; in education, engineering or economics; resource management, real estate or religious studies; anthropology, agriculture or administration, there is something in this course that will catch your interest and give you ideas you can use in your career after university.


Building your personal skills and your skill at working in groups is a primary objective of this course. Those skills include your capacity to do independent research and your ability to analyze information from different sources, think critically, and solve problems. Also important is developing your creative thinking processes such as modeling and formulating questions, as well as your higher level thinking processes such as being able to identify bias, infer from what you learn, identify related information, apply new knowledge, and reflect on what you have learned and how it might be relevant in other situations. If you develop these skills you will become someone who can change the world!

In this class, your point of view and personal experiences provide you with much to contribute. In this course, you should expect to be treated with dignity and respect by your peers and your instructors. Whether you are female or male, from the city or the country, from a family, tribe or region where simple survival is a challenge, or from one fortunate to have abundance, the achievement of sustainable societies will not happen without a culture of respect for all, gender equality, and equity in the classroom.

In such a climate, you will learn as much from your peers as from the reading material. A large share of class time will be devoted to group discussions. Since your participation is necessary for your classmates to learn, you are responsible for arriving in class having read the assigned readings and being ready to participate in the class discussions. Building a better Africa is a group effort.

Course Structure

There are four parts to this course:

      • Part I - Introduction
      • Part 2 - Issues in Sustainable Development
      • Part 3 - Case Study
      • Part 4 - Application

If you haven’t already read the sections on Structure and Pedagogy in the Overview above, take a few minutes now to read them. They provide you with the background for what follows next here.

Parts 1-3 are based primarily on out-of-class readings, assignment questions, and your own personal research. Most of the reading materials included in the course are selections from various articles and reports published by the United Nations Environment Program and other United Nations organizations.

To get the most out of this course here’s some advice:

Pay attention to the Summary, Objective, and Results at the beginning of each Part as well as the Activities descriptions. Organize your note-taking and personal research with an eye toward meeting those objectives and results.

In Part 2, the Theme, Goals, Summary, Main Idea, Key Concepts, and Outcomes will give you a clear idea of what you should be learning from the readings and the course activities. Reading the Assignment Questions ahead of time will also help you find the parts of the reading that you need to focus on. (If you are using the CD version of this course, the page numbers assigned for individual readings in the reading lists are the page numbers shown on the actual documents to be read.) After doing the readings and answering the questions, use the Issue Notes Template to summarize your understanding of each issue. (Supplemental Readings and the Issue Notes Template are only available in the CD version of the course.)

At the beginning of Part 2, you should begin your independent research on the community sustainability issue, and the strategy to address it, that will form the basis of you community application project in Part 4 at the end of the course.

You will also probably be responsible for one or more short oral presentations to your classmates in Part 2. Use the Assignment Questions and Sustainability Strategy Analysis and Application Sheet to help organize your presentations.

In Part 3, group discussions will be important. Don’t wait until then to start to develop your presentation and group skills. Practice your skills during the group activities and presentations during Parts 1 and 2.

In Part 4, you will be developing your own proposal for making your community more sustainable. You will be introduced to the requirements of the Part 4 project at the end of Part 1. Start thinking about the problems affecting your community and considering how the issues being discussed are present where you live.


Your instructor will be the one who determines the basis of your grade for this course and assessing your progress will be a continuous process. However, it would not be unrealistic to expect that the breakdown may be something like this:

      • Part 1, 2, and 3 Class Participation and Activities (including quizzes, in-class presentations and out-of class assignments) 30%
      • Student Application Project in Part 4 (including project outline developed in Part 2 and refined in Part 3) 40%
      • Final Examination 30%