This course is offered through Coursera — you can add it to your Accredible profile to organize your learning, find others learning the same thing and to showcase evidence of your learning on your CV with Accredible's export features.
Course Date: 25 August 2014 to 20 October 2014 (8 weeks)
This course introduces the academic discipline of sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations.
Dr. Jonathan Tomkin is the Associate Director of the School of Earth, Society and Environment and a research Associate Professor in the department of Geology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Tomkin directs the undergraduate program in environmental sustainability at the University.
His research aims to uncover the processes of how changing climates, glaciers, and landscapes interact. This study has involved fieldwork all over the world - including the Olympic Mountains, the Swiss Alps, Patagonia and Antarctica. He is the co-editor and contributing author of the college textbook Sustainability: a comprehensive introduction.
This course introduces the academic approach of Sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations. The course focuses on key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history.
This subject is of vital importance, seeking as it does to uncover the principles of the long-term welfare of all the peoples of the planet. As sustainability is a cross-disciplinary field of study, this foundation requires intellectual breadth: as I describe it in the class text, understanding our motivations requires the humanities, measuring the challenges of sustainability requires knowledge of the sciences (both natural and social), and building solutions requires technical insight into systems (such as provided by engineering, planning, and management).
Will I get a certificate for this course?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.
What resources will I need for this class?
Got an up-to-date browser and a decent internet connection? You’re good to go!
How can I pass this class?
We want to give you multiple ways to pass, tailored to your educational needs. You can score well on the quizzes, participate substantially in the forums, or compile a project that encompasses the topics of the course. The choice is up to you!
What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?
We’ve just passed 7 billion people on the planet – but population growth isn’t the biggest threat to a prosperous global future.
What do other people say about the course?
Check out comments from folk of the independently
organized Facebook page:
We are on
the home stretch and it will be sad to see our final week now finish . . . . I have
really enjoyed my learning experience and yes, altered some of my previously held
ideas have evolved . . . for the better! :) This was my first Cousera and I
know am inspired to go further - thanx soo much to you and the tech team!!
for your time, encouragement and devotion! It was a pleasure to participate in
your class and meet the people from all around the globe.
materials and the topics helped me rethinking many issues. I hope that such
efforts supported by millions of individuals around the world will lead to the
sustainable future where traditional values and modern technologies will go hand
in hand to create a better world.
wishes from Tajikistan,
like to thank you and whole your technical staff for this amazing course. It was
an incredible opportunity for widening my knowledge in some emerging issues and
a great starting point for some deeper consideration to the ones that I have never
thought of before.
I hope you
will continue this great work in the future Coursera courses. I wish you lot of
patience and persistance in changing people's minds and behaviours.
Barbara Piotrowska/ Gdańsk, Poland
Week 1: Introduction. Pessimism vs. optimism.
Neo-malthusians, J-curves, S-curves and the IPAT equation
Week 2: Population. Demographics and the disappearance of the third world
Demographics, population trends.
Week 3: Tragedy of the Commons.
Fisheries, pastures, public vs private solutions
Week 4: Climate Change. The climate of the near future: hot, hotter, or hottest?
Weather vs. Climate, Proxy and data climate evidence, Climate projections
Week 5 : Energy. What happens when we reach “Peak Oil” Renewable energy: is there enough to make the switch?
Peak Oil/Fossil Fuel, Energy survey, availability, and density, EROI
Week 6: Agriculture and Water. Is there enough water and food for the 21st Century?
GMOs and the Green Revolution, water stocks and flows - physical and social constraints
Week 7: Environmental Economics and Policy. Can economists lead the way to sustainability?
Environmental Evaluation, project and policy evaluation, Incentive policies
Week 8: Ethics and Culture and Measurement. The long view.
NeCarbon Footprints, Energy and water efficiency metrics, Sustainability Ethics, Environmental ideology and conservation movements
Each week of class consists of multiple 8-15 minute long lecture videos, integrated weekly quizzes, readings, an optional assignment and a discussion. Most weeks will also have a peer reviewed assignment, and there will be the opportunity to participate in a community wiki-project. There will be a comprehensive exam at the end of the course.