REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Get schooled on architecture, sustainability and development.

Each August, I remember the linoleum floors of my hometown Staples store, where they played “Drift Away” by the Doobie Brothers three times every hour, and glossy plastic pencil boxes and Lisa Frank notebooks called from the aisles.

Back-to-school season can still induce a thrill, even if you’re not heading to the classroom armed with fresh supplies. If you want to know more about global architecture, civic ecology, or the American prison system, you can start with free online classes.

For aspiring theorists, designers, and grassroots urbanists, here are a few picks for a back-to-school courseload. Some are self-paced, some are archived, and some are starting this fall.

A Global History of Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Quality of Life: Livability in Future Cities from ETH Zurich

Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology from Cornell University

Vernacular Architecture of Asia: Tradition, Modernity and Cultural Sustainability from University of Hong Kong

Urban Water: Innovations for Sustainability from University of British Columbia

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change from University of Michigan

Incarceration’s Witnesses from Hamilton College

Sustainable Urban Development from Delft University of Technology & Wageningen University

If none of these quite fit the bill, you can always read some classics, or check out CityLab’s urban design syllabus with a focus on race and justice.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  2. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.

  3. Life

    The Town Where Retirees Can’t Retire

    In fast-aging pockets of rural America, older residents are going back to work. But not always because they need the money.

  4. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?

  5. Amazon HQ2

    Amazon’s HQ2 Fiasco Will Cost the Company More Than It Costs New York

    The mega-company has bucked dealing reasonably with New York City, Seattle, and any community that asks them to pay for its freight.