Concepts in Sustainable Development: an Introduction to the Key Issues

Concepts in Sustainable Development: an Introduction to the Key Issues

MOOC, 6 weeks

This is for you if... you want to explore some of the key issues in sustainability, tackling the big questions with examples from around the world.

Course Description

  • Next start date: 15 January 2018

In this course you will study the conceptual foundations of sustainable development, and discuss the issues around sustainability as a complex problem.

We’ll look at the flow of energy and materials worldwide; social and political issues; wealth inequality; the impact of geography, history and culture on sustainability today; and the problems of collective action. Finally, we’ll conduct a SWOT analysis, looking at our resilience and prospects in the face of climate change and other global issues in sustainability. We’ll ask: are we doomed?

The course address as different theme each week:

  • Sustainable development and complexity
  • The economy and ecology as a metabolic system
  • Economic growth and inequality
  • The importance of geography, history and culture and the impact of human activity on the environment
  • The problem of collective action
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Key Facts
Department
Interdisciplinary Science
Contact

+44 (0)116 252 2100
natsci@le.ac.uk

Centre for Interdisciplinary Science website

Why Leicester?

The University of Leicester is one of the UK's leading research and teaching universities with over 25 years' experience of offering high quality distance learning courses.

The University of Leicester aims to enhance social, economic and physical environments by embedding sustainability into its core business.

Course Structure

Week 1

Week 1

In the first week we will discuss what we mean by complexity and how this relates to sustainability. We will provide an overview of the background to sustainable development, and look at the difficulty we have in attributing meanings to the concepts of sustainable development.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 2

Week 2

This week we look at the economy and ecology from the point of view of a metabolic system. We will discover how the temperature difference between the sun and the Earth creates ‘order’, both living and built. We will look for solutions of how we can minimise the flow of matter (and waste) through the economic system.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 3

Week 3

In week 3 we see how economists measure economic growth, looking at scale, capital and technology. We see how historical transitions such as the agricultural and industrial revolutions led to significant world economic growth. We also look at inequality and the social issues that arise from this.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 4

Week 4

Here we introduce the concept of path dependency, where events and decisions made in the past affect our circumstances today. To tackle the problems of sustainability as a result of the impact of human activity on the environment, we need to understand the importance of geography, history and culture. Human’s impact on the natural environment has given the era a proposed new name: the Anthropocene.  

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 5

Week 5

This week we look at the problems of collective action. The exhaustion of fish stocks, global warming and ocean acidification are three examples of collective action problems. The way we view these problems may depend on our values and how we frame our attitude towards globalisation.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 6

Week 6

In the final week of the course we look at the threats to the social order from various global problems, at technological and development approaches and the role of higher education in fostering global citizenship.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Teaching and Assessment

At the end of each week of the course there is normally a set of multiple choice questions to test your understanding of what you have learned, and this will count towards your overall course score. Please note that this is a FutureLearn score, and is not valid as credit for other courses at the University of Leicester - although a MOOC is a great 'taster' for university learning.

Entry Requirements

There are no entry requirements for the current range of MOOCs available from the University of Leicester. You simply need an internet connection and a computer or tablet device. This course is aimed at learners who wish to engage with the challenges and potential solutions to sustainability at a conceptual level.

English Language Requirements

There are no specific English language requirements for our MOOCs. However, to get the most out of this course you should have a reasonable command of written English.

Fees and Funding

  • Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.

  • Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.

Career Opportunities

Careers
Course Qualification Duration Availability
Sustainability MOOC 6 weeks Apply Now
Course
Sustainability
Qualification
MOOC
Duration
6 weeks
Availability

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