Online course on Introduction to Sustainability:University of Illinois

Introduction to Sustainability


Introduction to Sustainability, 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.

About the course

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.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction. Pessimism vs. optimism.

Week 2: Population. Demographics and the disappearance of the third world

Week 3: Tragedy of the Commons.

Week 4: Climate Change. The climate of the near future: hot, hotter, or hottest?

Week 5: Energy. What happens when we reach "Peak Oil" Renewable energy: is there enough to make the switch?

Week 6: Agriculture and Water. Is there enough water and food for the 21st Century?

Week 7: Environmental Economics and Policy. Can economists lead the way to sustainability?

Week 8: Ethics and Culture and Measurement. The long view.

Course Format

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.

Course Sessions

August 25, 2014 - October 19, 2014

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