Making cities & human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, & sustainable is the purpose of Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11). This goal strives to improve living standards & resilience, ensure economic resources & rights, & implement sound policies.

Actions, stories, & resources related to SDG 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities as told in the 2021 Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report, & then expanded on below, illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit


As the world becomes progressively more urbanized, making cities more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable is becoming increasingly critical. Cities and metropolitan areas are powerhouses of economic growth, but they are also contributors to carbon emissions and users of massive amounts of resources. In addition to pollution and resource use, cities and metropolitan areas also present problems of inequality, with slums and inadequate housing plaguing large urban populations.

Auburn University is highly engaged with Goal 11 in many ways through teaching, research, and outreach. From 2016-2018, Auburn University offered at least 36 courses oriented toward Goal 11. As Auburn University continues to build its reputation as an innovative institution with a global perspective, it is important that Auburn University continues to contribute positively to the world’s increasingly urban society.

View the 2021 report titled Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for an overview of Auburn’s contributions to all the SDGs.

Actions at Auburn

Community Planning is concerned with the use of land, protection of the environment, public welfare, the design of public spaces and infrastructure, and the economy. Auburn University’s Master of Community Planning is a professionally oriented master’s degree program in which students work with clients on real-world planning projects in almost every class. Through working on these projects, students learn to help diverse and complex communities create and implement plans that improve and protect their quality-of-life, culture, resource base, built environment, natural environment, and economic vitality. AU’s Master of Community Planning is offered through the College of Liberal Arts.

Master of Community Planning students sdg Photo courtesy of Community Planning
House built by Rural Studio students sdg Photo courtesy of Timothy Hursley

Rural Studio is an off-campus design-build program in the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction. Rural Studio emphasizes place, beauty, economy, and purpose, from education to research to outreach. The Rural Studio philosophy suggests that everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefit of good design. The studio is known for its ethos of recycling, reusing, and remaking. To date, Rural Studio has built more than 200 projects. “We encourage aspiring young architects to address the ethical responsibility for the social, political, and environmental consequences of what they design and build,” says Andrew Freear, Rural Studio director.

Drs. Jeffrey LaMondia of the College of Engineering, Sweta Byahut of the College of Liberal Arts, and Professor Charlene LeBleu of the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction have embarked on a multi-year research project that aims to determine the impact of landscape patterns on stormwater runoff. In order to minimize ecosystem degradation and flood exacerbation, some local governments have adopted “green infrastructure” plans and strategies to conserve and protect their natural resources. This research identifies communities that have engaged in green infrastructure planning in the Mississippi-Alabama coastal region, identifies best practices among those communities, and pinpoints landscape patterns that should be protected.

Map of Mississippi and Alabama SDG 11 Photo courtesy of Dr. Sweta Byahut

People & Stories

Alumni Feature: Alicia Valenti

| SDG11, Sustainability Auburn Alumni Affiliate | No Comments
By Alicia Valenti. In today’s world, dire articles about the speed and effects of climate change seem inescapable, and global warming can feel like such an insurmountable challenge that any effort to mitigate it is futile. Our home communities–whether you’re in Alabama or Alaska, Birmingham or Boston–are a great place…

Campus Changemaker: Max Garcia

| SDG11, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Grace Reilein. “Auburn gave me a plethora of perspectives to build my knowledge on,” stated Max Garcia, Auburn University Alumnus, and former Office of Sustainability Intern. In 2018, Max graduated from Auburn to become a world changemaker, but credits his start down the changemaker pathway to his time at…

Regeneration: Reversing Global Degeneration

| Director's Corner, SDG11, SDG13, SDG7 | No Comments
“If putting the future of life at the heart of everything we do is not central to our purpose and destiny, why are we here?” Paul Hawken In a 1946 New York Times article, the eminently quotable Albert Einstein said, “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is…

Alumni Feature: Travys Harper

| SDG11, SDG13, SDG15, Sustainability Auburn Alumni Affiliate | No Comments
By Travys Harper. I was first exposed to sustainability at Auburn through an Introduction to Sustainability course. At the time, I began to notice that I was already doing some of these things in my life naturally, for example using less water for dishes and brushing my teeth. I was…

Clean Water, Sanitation, & Human Rights: What Do We Owe Our Neighbors?

| Director's Corner, SDG1, SDG11, SDG3, SDG6 | No Comments
Directors Corner, February 2022 “Our collective failure to invest in adequate sanitation, clean drinking water, and effective response to pollution is taking life from the most vulnerable and marginalized among us.”  Bryan Stevenson What do you think?  Is access to clean water and sanitation a basic human right?  One would…

Explore the SDGs & AU