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Today, 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities; by 2050, that proportion is expected to rise to 75 per cent, bringing opportunity and economic growth but straining infrastructure and the environment.

A innovative new course at Sauder, scheduled for the first half of 2016, seeks to address the challenges of urbanization.

In “Urban Resilience: Complexity, Collaborative Structures, and Leadership Challenges,” a small network online course offered by the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), students will work together in virtual teams to explore a variety of issues affecting cities, including aging infrastructure, growth strategies and climate change.

The course is the first to use resources from multiple schools throughout GNAM, a network of 28 of the world's top business schools. Professors from five GNAM schools across three continents—Sauder, EGADE Business School, University of Ghana Business School, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore and the Yale School of Management—will collaborate to provide a variety of perspectives; additional views will come from practitioners in business, government and civil society. The students will also be joined by representatives of the Rockefeller Foundation and its 100 Resilient Cities project.

Solutions to the challenges of urbanization will come from all sectors, which makes it an ideal topic for MBA students, said Murali Chandrashekaran, senior associate dean for strategic partnerships and global initiatives at Sauder and the lead faculty member who will be teaching the course.

“It is increasingly about leveraging the power of business to help address problems of our time,” said Chandrashekaran. “Future leaders of business and society, such as MBA students, need to be exposed to the opportunities and challenges offered by urbanization, and how solution approaches are going to require multiple stakeholders coming together.”

Many of the students in the course may also be traveling to other network schools for Global Network Week in March, which will give them the opportunity to meet and work together on their projects in person, Chandrashekaran noted. Having a variety of student perspectives from around the world, an important part of all Global Network Courses, is particularly key to grappling with urbanization.

“Local, national, and regional context matters,” he said. “Leaders will also need to be able to call on expertise and resources from all parts of the globe and all sectors of society, and not assume that any one organization or perspective has the final answer.”

Originally published on the Global Network for Advanced Management.