Defining and Measuring Environmental Sustainability, Health, Well-being, and Livability

At present there is no unified framework that simultaneously represents the impact of urban infrastructure on the environment (environmental sustainability), as well as the benefits/risks posed to human well-being in cities (health and livability) by infrastructure-environment interactions.

The Sustainability Research Network (SRN) on sustainable healthy cities will develop science-based methods to track the environmental sustainability, health, well-being, and livability (EHWL) of cities.  Students in this class will learn about:

  • Theoretical and methodological foundations for connecting the social-ecological-infrastructural systems (SEIS) framework to measurement of EHWL outcomes.
  • Infrastructure and socio-demographic parameters within individual cities:
    • with environmental impact (energy, water, etc.) and ecosystem impact (impact on E).
    • with multi-scale health risk factors and outcomes, focusing on objective measures of health such as days of sickness, mortality, etc. (impact on H).
    • with health and livability (now including environmental parameters) focusing on subjective well-being (impact on W and L).
  • Cross-city comparisons in the U.S. and the developing world to understand the linkage between EHWL outcomes and socio-demographic, infrastructure, urban form, and environment/ecosystem.

In short, the SRN wants to understand how infrastructure contributes to making a city environmentally sustainable, healthy, and livable.

Course Information

This online course  for fall semester will begin September 12, 2016. Classes will meet for approximately 3 hours per week and include three components.

  1. First, students will asynchronistically view pre-recorded 1 hour lectures and read assigned articles.
  2. Second, students will meet with faculty for an online discussion on Mondays 11am CT.
  3. Finally, if students participate in a group project, they will meet online with their assigned teams 1 hour a week to develop a multi-university, multi-disciplinary group assignment.

Check back soon for a copy of the syllabus.


Graduate students from participating SRN universities are eligible to register, or other students with instructor permission.  Click on your school below to request information on how to register.

Colorado State | Columbia University | Florida State | Georgia Tech | Ohio State | University of Michigan | University of Minnesota | University of Texas-Austin