Coastal urbanization and environmental change: Opportunities for collaborative education across a global network university

John A. Burt, Mary E. Killilea, Suzanne Ciprut

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Human populations are heavily concentrated on shorelines and growing urbanization is putting increasing pressure on coastal ecosystems around the globe. Many of the environmental challenges facing individual cities are shared by cities elsewhere, and there is increasing recognition that localized solutions being developed for a particular urban setting have the capacity to be scaled up to help resolve environmental issues in other parts of the world. In the past decade there has been rapid growth of the internationalization of higher education, and this provides an opportunity to explore environmental issues that have both local relevance and global importance for the next generation of decision makers. New York University has established itself as a ‘global network university’ with 3 major portal campuses and 11 academic sites spanning 13 nations on five continents. A novel undergraduate course, ‘Where the City Meets the Sea’ makes use of the opportunity presented by this global presence to study issues surrounding coastal urbanization and environmental change. Using a combination of interactive video conference lectures, asynchronous fieldwork and computer-based labs for data collection and analyses, and cross-campus collaborative assignments and projects, students from multiple NYU campuses are able to collaboratively explore issues around coastal urbanization by collecting and analyzing data from their local environment, and comparing these results with those of students at sites elsewhere in the globe. This approach allows students to deeply contextualize their understanding of global issues by fostering an understanding of the environmental challenges – and their solutions – that span local to global scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100501
JournalRegional Studies in Marine Science
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Academic technology
  • Distance learning
  • Environmental education
  • Interactive video conference
  • Internationalization
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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