A Great Free Course on the Economics of Cities

Ed Glaeser, the Harvard economist who has dazzled Freakonomics listeners and readers with his insights on cities (and a zillion other things) is offering a free, online HarvardX course called “Cities X: The Past, Present and Future of Urban Life.” Here’s the blurb:

For the first time in human history, more than fifty percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Cities allow for the exchange of ideas, and generate remarkable innovations in business, art, and ideas. Cities are also home to millions living in poverty. Urban living can provide a pathway to a better life, but that’s not always the case for many people around the world.

CitiesX will give you a far-ranging look at the past, present and future of cities, with the aim of teaching you how to better understand, appreciate and improve urban areas. The course will explore key concepts of urban development by examining cities around the world, including London, Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Shanghai, Mumbai, Kigali, and many more.

The course includes a historical exploration of cities: how urban centers like ancient Rome resulted from consolidation of imperial power, how cities like Sao Paulo grew as important hotbeds of industry, and how cities like Seattle became hubs of technology and human capital.

CitiesX also dives into pressing social and urban planning issues like public health, transportation, zoning, gentrification, cost of living, crime, and congestion. The course includes interviews and insights from academics, policy makers, urban leaders, and city residents.

The analytical framework of the course comes from economics, but is enhanced by conversations with experts from other disciplines (including Sociology, Urban Planning, Journalism, Anthropology, History, Art & Music) to provide learners with a greater understanding of all aspects of urbanism.

Enrollment here. Have fun.