Turning the spotlight on water


The impact of rapid urbanisation and climate change mean cities all around the world are at risk of becoming dramatically less liveable, unless fundamental changes are made to the way we plan and design our cities.

The next Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) by Monash, provided through the Future Learn platform, will explore these issues further with a central focus on water.

Water for Liveable and Resilient Cities commencing 2 March will students the opportunity to explore the concept of water sensitive cities with some of the world’s leading experts and researchers, both from Monash and international institutions.

The course will be lead by Professor Rob Skinner, Director of the Water for Liveability Centre, who said the course will explore the complex and multidisciplinary nature of designing cities that are resilient to the impacts that prolonged periods of drought – such as the millennium drought in Australia – can have on the liveability of urban areas.

But climate change is not just about hot and dry weather – cities also need to be resilient to the impacts of more frequent and intense flooding events. Water sensitive cities provide for more effective management of all aspects of the water cycle.

“The MOOC will have a widespread international audience and enable Monash to showcase interdisciplinary research and practice in areas that we have become a world leader in,” Professor Skinner said.

“The MOOC is another way that our work can be brought to a broad audience and hopefully establish a new cohort of enthusiasts - people who want to leave this world with more liveable and resilient cities for their grandchildren,” he said.

The course will address issues such as: how can cities be designed to better protect themselves from climate extremes and flooding; how we can better harvest and recycle stormwater; and how can we use water to plan more liveable cities in the face of climate change and population growth.

Drawing on case studies from around the world, students will apply principles of water sensitive urban design in the context of the towns and cities where they are living. The course will also address the ultimate question – what are the institutional, regulatory and cultural preconditions required to ensure successful transitions to water sensitive cities? To answers questions such as this, the MOOC will look at leadership at all levels of government and society.

Water for Liveable and Resilient Cities asks students to network, share ideas, debate issues and challenge the status quo. No previous experience or knowledge is required, with only a commitment of a few hours a week required.

Water for Liveable and Resilient Cities is a free online course, commencing on 2 March and running for seven weeks. For further information, please visit the Future Learn website.