Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Free Online Sustainability [MOOC] Course

Starting August 27th 2012 and running for 8 weeks

Sustainability: a global introduction" examines the global forces that will determine our sustainable future. We'll look at such questions as:

  • What are the biggest threats - is it loss of biodiversity, climate change, or population growth?
  • Is "peak oil" real, and can renewable sources bridge the energy gap?
  • Where are we headed - do demographics, economics, science and policy point towards a prosperous future?

The course is completely free, and delivered online. There will be a mixture of readings, short lectures, quizzes, collaborative projects and discussions. All participants who successfully complete the required activities (and tests!) will earn a completion badge.


Week 1: Introduction & Population pessimism vs. optimism: Demographics, neo-malthusians and the disappearance of the third world

Week 2: Ecosystems, Extinction & Tragedy of the Commons A theory that threatens to doom us all?

Week 3: Climate Change The climate of the near future: hot, hotter, or hottest?

Week 4: Energy What happens when we reach “Peak Oil” Renewable energy: is there enough to make the switch?

Week 5: Agriculture and Water Can we continue to increase food production - or have we reached the limit of what the land can support?

Week 6: Environmental Economics and Policy Can economists lead the way to sustainability?

Week 7: Measuring sustainability How do we know we're making a difference?

Week 8: Ethics and Culture the long view

Meet your Professor:  Dr. Jonathan Tomkin is the Associate Director of the School of Earth, Society and Environment at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Tomkin leads the undergraduate program in sustainability and 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.

The course is the first ever "MOOC" (Massive Open Online Course) on sustainability, and is being supported by the School of Earth, Society and Environment, the Office of Online and Continuing Education, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and by the University of Illinois.

Source and Links To Registration and Free Downloadable Textbook Available At 


Monday, July 2, 2012

NPR > Online Classes Cut Costs, But Do They Dilute Brands?

"There's the old saying that for any organization when the outside world is changing faster than the inside world, you're moving backwards," Duncan says.
Add in the financial pressure on universities and their need to find new ways of doing business, and it's not hard to see how anxiousness could turn into panic. Especially with each new venture launched, such as Coursera — with Stanford, Princeton and others — and edX, a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
"Certainly it got everyone's attention, and I think schools that don't try and find their place in that will be left behind," Duncan says.
While it used to be just a relative few who paid MIT tens of thousands in tuition to take Electronics 6002, today anyone in the world can take Electronics 6002X online — free.
Last semester, about 160,000 people took the course and about 7,000 of them passed.
Recently reinstated University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan came under fire for failing to move fast enough into online education.
"I like to call it flipping the funnel," says edX President Anant Agarwal.
Source and Fulltext and Audio Available At