An Introduction to Urban Ecological Heritage: Theories and Applications

By Prof. Jenia Mukherjee   |   IIT Kharagpur
Learners enrolled: 1163   |  Exam registration: 217

For a long period of time, cities were considered antithetical to nature. While cities implied buildings, bridges, and urban infrastructures, and urban heritage signified preservation of historical architecture, ecology consisted of forests, pasture lands, wetlands, waterbodies, etc. It is only recently that there is a greater awareness that cities and nature are inherently interconnected to each other and the protection of the latter ensures urban sustainability and resilience. This provokes us to think about ‘urban ecological heritage’ – enabling us to expand our perceptions about cities, nature, and heritage – and their inevitable intersections. This idea is also rooted in SDG 11.4 that calls for safeguarding the world’s natural-cultural heritage – awaiting investigations and analyses within particular cities of the world – especially the global South, dotted with multiple challenges including ecological degradation due to unhindered urban sprawl.

Within this contemporary context, this course will familiarize participants to theories and applications of urban ecological heritage by discussing global conventions on urban heritage and the recent advancements to include natural-cultural components. Using first-hand case studies from urban ecologies of two Indian metropolitan cities, the course will lay out why and how transdisciplinary involvements and actions can facilitate sustainable development goals geared to revive and rejuvenate the urban by addressing core issues of ecological resilience in recent times.

This is a unique NPTEL MOOC sponsored by the Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability, where along with classroom studio lectures, live interviews and videocasts from the case study sites will expose participants to real life scenarios, motivating them to engage in long-term research and practical actions in this emerging domain.

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Students, researchers, practitioners, government agencies, heritage activists, environmentalists, right-based think tanks, etc. across global scales

INDUSTRY SUPPORT: With the SWAYAM NPTEL as the launching platform and SMUS TU-Berlin actively disseminating this course, it has good potentials to attract attention of transdisciplinary sectors, working on critical heritage issues and at the environment-development interface.
Course Status : Ongoing
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 4 weeks
Category :
  • Multidisciplinary
Credit Points : 1
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 19 Feb 2024
End Date : 15 Mar 2024
Enrollment Ends : 19 Feb 2024
Exam Registration Ends : 15 Mar 2024
Exam Date : 20 Apr 2024 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1:
Urban Heritage – Global Conventions and Declarations
Historical Urban Landscape (HUL) – Approach, Toolkit, and Actions
Urban Heritage – The Indian Context
SDG(s) 11(.4) – Transdisciplinary Possibilities, Pathways, and Actions

Week 2: 
1. Historicizing lakes of Bangalore – social-ecological perspectives
2. Urban environmentalisms – lake-based and rights-based  
3. Example 1: The Jakkur Lake 
4. Example 2: The Puttenahalli Lake
Week 3: 
1. Example 3: The Kaikondrahalli Lake
2. Kolkata’s heritage – Applying the urban ecological heritage lens
3. Kolkata and EKW - conveying the co-evolutionary narrative
4. Living Systems infrastructure of Kolkata
Case study 1: The Nalban and Goltala Fisheries

Week 4: 
1. Case study 2: Baro Chaynavi Cooperative
2. Case study 3: Jhagrashisha
3. EKW as heritage – Lessons from a Practical Empirical Implementation Project

Books and references

1. Harrison, R. (2012). Heritage: Critical Approaches. London: Routledge.
2. Harrison, R. (2015). Beyond “natural” and “cultural” heritage: Toward an ontological politics of heritage in the age of Anthropocene.
3. Heritage & Society 8(1): 24-42.
4. Harrison, R., De Silvey, C., Holtorf, C., Macdonald, S., et al. (2020). Heritage Futures: Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices. London: UCL press.
5. Mukherjee, J. (2020). Blue Infrastructures: Natural History, Political Ecology and Urban Development in Kolkata. Singapore: Springer Nature.
6. The Adi Ganga: A forgotten river in Bengal. Economic and Political Weekly 51(8).
7. Nagendra, H. (2016). Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present, and Future. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
8. Issar, T.P. 1988. The City Beautiful: A Celebration of the Architectural Heritage and City-aesthetics of Bangalore. Bangalore: Bangalore Urban Art Commission

Instructor bio

Prof. Jenia Mukherjee

IIT Kharagpur
Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Kharagpur, Prof .Jenia Mukherjee’s research spans across urban environmental history, urban political ecology and transdisciplinary waters. She received the prestigious Carson Writing Fellowship (2018-19) from the Rachel Carson Center, Munich for completing her book Blue Infrastructures: Natural History, Political Ecology and Urban Development in India. She was awarded the Salzburg Global and Nippon Foundation Fellowship (2020), Japan-India Transformative Technology Network to advance her urban ecological research in collaboration with urban practitioners and global think tanks. She is currently investigating seven international projects funded by EU-ICSSR, AHRC-ICHR, SSHRC (Canada), SOR4D and Swissnex, exploring coastal livelihoods dynamics in transboundary Sundarbans and urban deltas and wetlands of the global South. In August 2021, she was also offered the Institute Faculty Excellence Award for her outstanding research and teaching performance

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 20 April 2024 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 3 assignments out of the total 4 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Kharagpur .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

MHRD logo Swayam logo


Goto google play store