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

Transportation Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG11, SDG12, SDG13, SDG3, SDG9, Updates | No Comments
by Randy Martin, Office of Sustainability If you have seen the dark smoke billow out of the exhaust of a tractor-trailer or have had your windows down behind an older vehicle that coughs its way forward, you’ve seen firsthand the pollution that a single vehicle can produce. Now imagine all of…

Transit-Oriented Development: Moving Southerners Around

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by Max Garcia, Sustainability Auburn Alumni Affiliate  I am a land use planner working and residing in St. Augustine, Florida that graduated from Auburn University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design. I have fond memories of Tiger Transit on Auburn’s campus, especially when a car was not…

Director’s Corner: A Bicycle Friendly University

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“Young adults want to ride more and drive less, and with defined borders and high-density environments, university campuses are ideal settings to cultivate a culture of biking.”  The League of American Bicyclists     Bicycle Friendly University Silver Designation The League of American Bicyclists has certified the Auburn University campus as…

Parkerson Mill Creek Greenway Progress & Updates

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by Ben Burmester, Facilities Management  The Parkerson Mill Creek trail serves as a pleasant amenity for pedestrians and cyclist alike. Trails and shared-use pathways are growing in popularity everywhere thanks to health, environmental, transportation and quality of life benefits they bring to a community. When located away from a roadway…

Walking the Walk and Biking the Bike

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by Rebecca Retzlaff, Director of the Academic Sustainability Program Most of the people at Auburn who are involved in sustainability also have a personal commitment to living a sustainable lifestyle. Many of us try to walk the walk (or bike the bike) of what we advocate. While I wish that…

Explore the SDGs & AU