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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 17: Partnerships for the Goals are shared in our latest Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report. They are shared below to illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit

Sustainable Development Goals Logo


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, outreach, and research. From 2019-2021, Auburn University offered at least 93 courses oriented toward Goal 11, making teaching activities are the most dominant way the University engaged with SDG 11.
Auburn University’s sustainability-oriented minors and graduate programs also have a high correlation with SDG 11 at 3 minors and 5 graduate programs. As Auburn University continues to build on its capacity as an innovative institution with a global perspective, Auburn University will continue to contribute to creating more sustainable cities and communities.

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

Actions at Auburn

In the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, the Environmental Design Program in Copenhagen, Denmark is a summer immersion program open to Environmental Design majors. The program has notable emphasis on themes of sustainability, urban livability, transportation systems, design, and environmental design. A global leader in design innovation, Copenhagen is known for being one of the most livable cities in the world and is highly regarded for its bicycle urbanism. Students study interconnected systems in order to apply resiliency within design. Copenhagen allows students to witness contemporary sustainable projects that will be useful and valuable for the entirety of their careers.

Students in Copenhagen
Master of Community Planning students sdg Photo courtesy of Community Planning

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.

Electric bus

In 2021, Auburn University introduced a fleet of hybrid-electric buses to the central campus area. The buses are designed with geofencing technology, allowing the buses to run on a battery charge when they detect the proximity of central campus. When not running an a battery, buses utilize a fuel-efficient, low-emissions diesel, fitted with a new exhaust design that reduces noise pollution. The Tiger Transit buses also feature increased capacity and an accessibility ramp for the elderly and physically disabled. To encourage more use of alternative transportation, the buses come equipped with bike racks. The Office of Sustainability also features a Sustainability Transportation Guide to highlight the most sustainable transportation options available.

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.

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

Professor Gorham Bird of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, researches architectural conservation, viewing architecture as an artifact of culture, linking political, socioeconomic, and historical connections. Through his research as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture, Professor Bird confronts obstacles in architectural preservation and renovation, as well as adaptive reuse projects, especially within historical settings. Particularly, Professor Bird focuses on the historical Julius Rosenwald Schools and the intersections of historic preservation, architectural conservation, adaptive reuse, and reimagining viable, sustainable futures for cities afflicted by economic neglect.

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

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.

People & Stories

Waste Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG11, SDG12, SDG14, SDG3, SDG6, STARS | No Comments
By Hannah Schwartz  Reducing waste is a cornerstone of sustainable practice for universities worldwide. By minimizing their ecological footprint, institutions not only contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment but also demonstrate a commitment to responsible stewardship. From conserving natural resources to saving costs and inspiring future generations, waste reduction in…

Coordination & Planning Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG11, SDG13, SDG16, SDG17, SDG5, STARS | No Comments
By Randy Martin & Bella Wright  A quick look at the top public colleges reveals that in each of their strategic plans, sustainability is taken seriously and given a prominent seat in the future of their institutions. This isn’t for show. Beyond the “good citizen” reasons, it's a smart business…

Buildings Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG11, SDG12, SDG3, SDG6, SDG7, SDG9, STARS | No Comments
By Bella Wright Building and innovation are pivotal to advancing society. However, how we build can have significant impacts on our planet and our future. To ensure the health and well-being of our planet, it is important to practice sustainable building of infrastructure and sustainable operations management.  The STARS* assessment…

Water Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG11, SDG14, SDG6, STARS | No Comments
By Hannah Schwartz  Conserving water is crucial for the health of our planet and future generations. With water scarcity continuing to be a pressing global issue, every drop saved makes a difference. By reducing water usage, we protect ecosystems, wildlife, and agricultural lands that rely on this precious resource.  With…

Campus Changemaker: Blake Butcher

| SDG11, SDG3, SDG8, SDG9, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Bella Wright “Find where there’s a need, and go meet that need” ~ EL Spencer  This philosophy is what led Blake Butcher to where he is today: Auburn University. Blake began his work in the Auburn community as a personal trainer. Over the span of fifteen years, Blake and his wife…

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