Introduction to Sustainability

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Beschrijving

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About this course: 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…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: 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).

Created by:  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Taught by:  Dr. Jonathan Tomkin, Associate Director

    School of Earth, Society and Environment
Commitment 8-10 hours/week Language English, Subtitles: Vietnamese, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Chinese (Simplified) How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.7 stars Average User Rating 4.7See what learners said Coursework

Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes and projects.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a world leader in research, teaching and public engagement, distinguished by the breadth of its programs, broad academic excellence, and internationally renowned faculty and alumni. Illinois serves the world by creating knowledge, preparing students for lives of impact, and finding solutions to critical societal needs.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Orientation and Introduction



In this module, you will become familiar with the course, your classmates, and the learning environment. The orientation also helps you obtain the technical skills required for the course. In the introduction, we will examine some of the central ideas that underpin the Earth as a system, and their consequences for environmental sustainability.


5 videos, 5 readings, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Introduction to Sustainability Course Welcome
  2. Reading: Syllabus
  3. Reading: About the Discussion Forums
  4. Reading: Social Media
  5. Reading: Getting to Know Your Classmates
  6. Practice Quiz: Orientation Quiz
  7. Reading: Module 1 Overview and Readings
  8. Video: Introduction to Sustainability
  9. Video: Sustainability and Population Growth
  10. Video: Growth Curves
  11. Video: Malthus
  12. Practice Quiz: Big Ideas Practice Quiz

Graded: Module 1 Quiz

WEEK 2


Population
In this module, we will see how human populations have evolved over time and get a sense of where the next century of change will take us.


5 videos, 1 reading, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Reading: Module 2 Overview and Readings
  2. Video: Population Introduction
  3. Video: Transitions
  4. Video: Demographic Transition
  5. Practice Quiz: Population, Past and Present Practice Quiz
  6. Video: Future Populations, Part 1
  7. Video: Future Populations, Part 2
  8. Practice Quiz: Global Population in the Future Practice Quiz

Graded: Population Interactive Homework
Graded: Module 2 Quiz

WEEK 3


Ecosystems and Climate Change
In this module, we will see that the Earth faces many environmental pressures that result from human exploitation of natural resources. We will also look at the issue of climate change.


8 videos, 1 reading, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Reading: Module 3 Overview and Readings
  2. Video: Ecosystems and Climate Change Introduction
  3. Video: Tragedy of the Commons
  4. Video: Tragedy of the Commons: Solutions
  5. Video: Ecosystems and Extinctions
  6. Practice Quiz: Ecosystems, Extinction, and Tragedy of the Commons Practice Quiz
  7. Video: Weather vs. Climate
  8. Video: Climate Changes in the Past
  9. Video: Modern Climate Change
  10. Video: [OPTIONAL] Climate Processes
  11. Practice Quiz: Climate Change Practice Quiz

Graded: Tragedy of the Commons Response
Graded: Climate Change Interactive Homework
Graded: Module 3 Quiz

WEEK 4


Energy
In this module, we will look at energy use. We will also consider what the trend of energy use means for the planet, and how we might transition to a more sustainable pattern of use.


8 videos, 1 reading, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Reading: Module 4 Overview and Readings
  2. Video: Energy Introduction
  3. Video: Energy Overview
  4. Video: Oil
  5. Video: EROEI
  6. Practice Quiz: Oil Practice Quiz
  7. Video: Coal & Gas
  8. Video: Nuclear Power
  9. Video: Renewable Energy
  10. Video: Energy Conservation
  11. Practice Quiz: Alternatives Practice Quiz

Graded: Energy and Society Homework
Graded: Module 4 Quiz

WEEK 5


Water and Agriculture
In this module, we will explore the connection between water and food, and see what will be required to feed the planet over the course of the century.


6 videos, 1 reading, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Reading: Module 5 Overview and Readings
  2. Video: Water and Agriculture Introduction
  3. Video: Limits to Water
  4. Video: Water Trends
  5. Practice Quiz: Water Practice Quiz
  6. Video: Agricultural Consumption
  7. Video: Agricultural Limits
  8. Video: Genetically Modified Organisms
  9. Practice Quiz: Agriculture and Food Practice Quiz

Graded: Module 5 Quiz

WEEK 6


Environmental Policy
In this module, we will examine some of the common tools used by policy-makers, and some of the forces that shape (or misshape) policy.


9 videos, 1 reading, 1 practice quiz expand


  1. Reading: Module 6 Overview and Readings
  2. Video: Environmental Economics and Policy Introduction
  3. Video: Negative Externalities
  4. Video: Environmental Policy
  5. Video: Environmental Policy Assessment
  6. Practice Quiz: Environmental Policy Practice Quiz
  7. Video: [OPTIONAL] Environmental Economics
  8. Video: [OPTIONAL] Application of Environmental Economics and Policy, Part 1
  9. Video: [OPTIONAL] Application of Environmental Economics and Policy, Part 2
  10. Video: [OPTIONAL] Application of Environmental Economics and Policy, Part 3
  11. Video: Environmental Policy Examples: "Biofuels"

Graded: Environmental Policy Response
Graded: Environmental Policy Examples Homework
Graded: Module 6 Quiz

WEEK 7


Measuring Sustainability



In this module, we will examine what tools are available to measure sustainability. Finally, I will make some predictions on global sustainability for the 21st century, based on the models we have spoken about in this course and the trends that have been observed in the early part of this century.


7 videos, 1 reading, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Reading: Module 7 Overview and Readings
  2. Video: Measuring Sustainability Introduction
  3. Video: Biodiversity and Ecosystems
  4. Video: Sustainability Metrics, Part 1
  5. Video: Sustainability Metrics, Part 2
  6. Video: Food Miles
  7. Practice Quiz: Measuring Sustainability Practice Quiz
  8. Video: Measuring Sustainability: The Future, Part 1
  9. Video: Measuring Sustainability: The Future, Part 2
  10. Practice Quiz: Sustainable Future Practice Quiz

Graded: Sustainable Future Response
Graded: Module 7 Quiz

WEEK 8


Conclusion



Welcome to the end of the course! This module has a final, comprehensive quiz that covers all of the topics that we’ve seen in the previous seven modules. You’ll want to be familiar with the goals and objectives, key phrases, concepts, and guiding questions from the earlier modules to do well on this final quiz.


1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Conclusion and Final Quiz Instructions

Graded: Introduction to Sustainability Final Quiz

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