Sustainable Development Goals


Virtual teaching programme gives students chance to address challenges facing Mumbai

Undergraduates from across UCL joined forces with postgraduates in India to learn about sustainable development through the lens of the city of Mumbai and propose solutions to the challenges it faces.

an image of a group of people on a zoom call

16 August 2021

Like all the world’s major cities, Mumbai, India, faces numerous and complex environmental, social and economic challenges as it develops to meet the needs of its growing population.

An innovative virtual teaching programme, co-created by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, India, and UCL, gave students a unique insight into the challenges facing the vast Indian city – population 20 million, and growing.

Throughout the week-long programme, they took part in online sessions delivered by TISS academics and organisations working with local communities in Mumbai. They explored themes including displacement, climate change, water and marginalised communities.

In addition, two UCL academics led virtual sessions: Professor David Osrin (UCL Institute for Global Health) on sustainable development and inequalities in urban informal settlements; and Dr Priti Parikh (UCL Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction) on the role of infrastructure in addressing the SDGs.

Three UCL alumni also offered their own perspectives, drawing on their experiences of sustainability, urban design and corporate social responsibility.

Students also worked in interdisciplinary teams facilitated by TISS postgraduate coordinators to discuss the topics covered each day and to explore the themes more deeply.

“The coordinators provided further knowledge of the subject area, as well as local insight and perspective, which was particularly useful for students learning about Mumbai from afar,” explains Professor Monica Lakhanpaul, UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (South Asia), who helped to organise the programme.

It was truly an exemplar of how to learn together on global issues and hear the perspective from the local community.”

The teams concluded by presenting the challenges facing Mumbai associated with a particular SDG and proposing how they might be tackled locally. The topics for their presentations included plastic pollution in the city and educational campaigns and policies for girls in Mumbai.

“I was delighted to see how the students came together in their interdisciplinary teams, working with colleagues and students from TISS,” added Professor Lakhanpaul. “It was truly an exemplar of how to learn together on global issues and hear the perspective from the local community.”

Professor Madhushree Sekher, TISS Office for International Affairs and Dean of the School of Vocational Education, added: “The outstanding student presentations at the end of the week was testimony of a highly productive interaction between the students, coordinators and faculties over the week. Overall, the outcome of the program was very encouraging for future collaboration between UCL and TISS and we look forward to conducting more innovative programs such as this in future.”

The programme was funded by the UK India Education Research Initiative and organised at UCL by the UCL Study Abroad team and UCL Global Engagement Office.