Putting Sustainability into Healthy Cities: Reflections from a University Short Course

By Michael Bentley.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper reflects on the practice of developing a 5-day University short course which aims to provide participants with knowledge and skills and national and international insights for developing Healthy and Sustainable Cities and Communities approaches, programs and projects. Since the 1990s, Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia has conducted short courses on Healthy Cities and Communities, based on the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities approach, which ‘seeks to put health high on the political and social agenda of cities and to build a strong movement for public health at the local level’ (WHO 2006). With the increasing significance given to sustainability, the course has been revamped to focus on the role of collective action across sectors (community, local government, education, environment, health) in promoting health and wellbeing within the broader context of social, environmental, economic and cultural sustainability.
The short course also aims to assess the factors and influences that help or hinder in creating holistic approaches to healthy and sustainable cities and communities and consider how the philosophy and practice of Healthy and Sustainable Cities initiatives could be applied by participants in their own organisations/communities.
The revamped short course was conducted in 2007 and 2008 and drew on local and global perspectives to introduce themes such as social sustainability, climate change, water, energy and equity, ecological economics, and sustainable futures. Following successful evaluations, the learning from both short courses will be used to further develop the course.

Keywords: Healthy Cities, Teaching Sustainability, Collective Action, University Short Course

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.99-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.185MB).

Dr. Michael Bentley

Senior Research Officer, South Australian Community Health Research Unit, Department of Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

As a Senior Research Officer with the South Australian Community Health Research Unit in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Flinders University in Australia, Michael has a focus on research and evaluation in public and community health that is grounded in a broader social, economic and environmental context. He holds MA with a focus on social complexity as it applies to health, ecology, and organizations and is currently studying towards a Doctor of Public Health. His area of interest is in ecological approaches to healthy and sustainable cities and communities that explore a range of issues, (for example: politics and citizenship, social determinants of health and equity), and how they might contribute to a just sustainability – one that incorporates social (and environmental) justice (and sustainability).

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