Measuring Progress towards Sustainable Development

Instructor: Scott Walker & Azadeh Ardakani

Are we measuring the right things to assess progress? The traditional measure for assessing economic development has been Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but a broader set of indicators that take into account the environmental and social aspects of progress are increasingly being replied upon to understand development. 21st century enlightenment involves a rational society in which all human beings can flourish and indicators can be powerful tools that support the measurement of social progress, and these are integral to the development of sound sustainable development goals and policies. They can help assess the extent to which communities, cities, and countries are respectively making progress on a comparable basis, and whether specific policy objectives are been fulfilled. Appropriate indicators establish baseline conditions and trends and which help provide a basis for identifying strengths and weaknesses to evaluate the longer-term implications of current decisions and behaviors. This course provides an overview of the different indicators across a range of disciplines and explores the local, national, and multi-lateral frameworks currently in place and in development.

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  1. Identify existing indicators and understand the evolutionary history of how indicators have evolved overtime into more sustainable development measures, the different disciplinary approaches utilized by experts, and how these indicators continue to progress;
  2. Assess how different criteria indicators and frameworks relate or not to one another within a global context;
  3. Evaluate how indicators are able to support sustainable development goals, and where there are limitations and challenges;
  4. Make linkages between sustainable development metrics and the public policy environment and explain where measurements have been effective in influencing Government strategy.
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