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The City and You: Find Your Best Place (Coursera)

Welcome to The City and You: Find Your Best Place. I’m excited to have you in the class and look forward to your contributions to the other learners in our community. This free course will provide the knowledge and the tools needed to understand what cities do, why they matter, the forces shaping the greatest wave of urbanization in history, and how to pick the right place for you.

The course will also help you develop critical thinking skills. We’ll accomplish this by providing evidence of the importance of cities, and why and how they matter to you. Then we’ll ask you to apply what you’ve learned in an exercise which will help you assess your own community and find your best place.

This course is accessible and open to anyone who is interested in learning more about cities and the ways they affect our lives. It is organized around five key modules: (1) Why Cities Matter, (2) A World of Cities, (3) The Creative City, (4) The Divided City and the New Urban Crisis, and (5) How to Find the Best Place for You.

After completing the course, you will be able to:

(1) Identify why cities are the drivers of economic prosperity;

(2) Explain the drivers and implications of fast-growing urbanization worldwide;

(3) Outline the key characteristics of a creative and innovative city;

(4) Describe the social divides and challenges facing cities and the solutions cities are using to address them; and

(5) Recognize the trade-offs of staying in your current city versus moving, and identify the best place for you and your family to live.

Who is this class for: This is class is for anyone who wants to better appreciate the trends shaping our cities and communities today and how the places we live shape our lives.



Why Cities Matter

This session will help you to understand the importance of cities to both the economy and society, and to you and your family. Today, more than three and a half billion people live in cities, more than half of the world’s population. That figure is projected to rise to as many as 10 billion people, 85 percent of the world’s population, over the next century. Cities are our premier platforms for generating new innovations, higher levels of economic growth, and new and better jobs. We will discuss why and how cities are important overall, and why picking the right city and right place to live is important to your career, well-being, and life.

Graded: Pause and Reflect: Should You Stay or Move?

Graded: Why Cities Matter


A World of Cities

Here are some key questions to think about and share your thoughts on based on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization in global cities. Global urbanization has the power to lift living standards, create economic opportunity and jobs, reduce pollution, improve energy efficiency, and make the world safer. But, many cities in the developing world remain poor, with millions of people crowded into global slums. This session will help you understand the opportunities and challenges of urbanization around the world.

Graded: Pause and Reflect: Tell Us about Your Global City

Graded: A World of Cities


The Creative City

Here are some key questions about creative cities, both historically and in our contemporary time. Cities have been the fonts of creativity since the dawn of civilization. The clustering of creative people in them and the diversity they bring is what drives key advances in arts, culture, and technology. These wellsprings of human progress have always occurred in our great cities from Athens and Rome to London, New York, and the emerging economies in Asia. This session will help you better understand how the clustering of diverse groups of creative people in cities spurs artistic achievement, scientific and technological advance, and human progress.

Graded: Pause and Reflect: Your Creative City

Graded: On the Creative City


The Divided City and the New Urban Crisis

Here are some key questions about the challenges of gentrification, inequality, and housing affordability facing cities today. This session will help you better understand the New Urban Crisis and the growing economic divides that challenge cities today. In the second half of the 20th century, society was divided between poorer cities and richer suburbs. But, over the past decade or so, affluent and educated people have flocked back to urban centers pushing poverty out to the suburbs. Today, middle-class neighborhoods are in decline and our societies are defined by small areas of concentrated advantaged surrounded by much larger areas of concentrated disadvantage spanning the city and its suburb alike.

Graded: Pause and Reflect: The Divides and Challenges of Your City

Graded: The Divided City


How to Find the Place That Is Best for You

In this forum, we want you to think about, discuss, and share ideas on how to find the best place (city and neighborhood) for you and for your family. This session will help you understand the importance of where you live to your life and career. We each make three big decisions in our lives: our career, our choice of life-partner, and the place (city and neighborhood) where we live. We get lots of advice on the first two, but little on the third. Yet, choosing where to live is the most important decision of all. It shapes and influences the kinds of careers that we pursue and the kinds of people we will meet. This session provides you with the tools and a framework for choosing the place that is best for you and your family.

Graded: Find the Best Place for You – Capstone Activity