Originally launched on 14 November 2016, the Ethical Cities Massive Open Online Course is now open for registration in its second round, which commences 4 April.

This five-week interactive course attracted a massive 1,200 participants in its first run, ending on 16 December. Produced by the Cities Programme and RMIT University, and hosted by FutureLearn platform, the MOOC engaged students from across the globe in original content and activities that required around two hours of their time per week.

The course asked questions such as, is it possible to tackle some of the regressive trends that are impacting cities around the world? Could the adoption of a more ethical approach change how we view our cities, how we make decisions and how we engage with other stakeholders?

It included examples of ethical practices in cities around the world including participatory budgeting from Porto Alegre, ethical procurement from Oslo, strategic planning from Rotorua and ethical urban development from Melbourne.

Course participants came from 90 countries. Around 22 per cent of the learners indicated that they were city planners, 4.4 per cent were civic leaders and 2.8 per cent were business leaders.

The level of engagement from the course participants was outstanding with 5,600 comments made throughout the modules.

“The team of educators behind the development of the Ethical Cities MOOC were overwhelmed by the positive feedback we have been receiving from the course participants” said Dr. Brendan Barrett, Lead Educator. “Each participant shared insights on and examples of the challenges facing their cities. They also focused on potential solutions.”

In commenting on the course, one participant who works in local government stated:

“Absolutely loved this course and have been able to use principles and terminology in my many political posts debates and council presentations… I see the goals of this course as having been met and cannot describe in how many ways it lends to what I have been doing and hope to do in my civil commitment to improving the city I live in.

Another participant involved with community development commented as follows:

“This is an awesome and amazing course. Anyone involved in community development has to take this course. It makes you confront uncomfortable positions and issues. The exercises are relevant and meaningful for problem solving.”

A general interest learner stated:

“Lots of engagement by tutors added to the information provided in the course content and made me feel part of a group. On other MOOCs I have done, this was not the case. I think the content was good for people like me, who just wanted to learn more out of general interest, but it also gives a lot to think about – both for future study as well as questions about how to do things in a better way.”

Finally, we received the following comment from Helia Shahmiri, interning with the City of Melbourne 100 Resilient Cities:

“A very interesting thing was people from different cities around the world talking about the issues their cities had gone through. Learning about people’s experiences in different contexts and in societies with different levels of development showed me that there are as many solutions in the world as there are problems, and that we are all in this together!”


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