8 of the Best Free Online Courses for Learning about Sustainability

I don't know about you, but growing up, learning about the environment and recycling was not the most interesting unit in school. In fact, I think there was almost a bit of a stigma attached to it. People who were really active in promoting eco-friendly lifestyles were seen as boring, eccentric, or clueless to the real issues of society. It was as if our educators forgot that the treatment of the very land we walked on may have contributed to said "real issues". 20 years later, this is no longer the case - we now rely on these people, who are certainly now experts, to help us reduce the damage we have done to this planet.

As part of my journey in increasing my awareness of how much human activity impacts the environment, I have tried to educate myself in several topics and work on becoming more interested in sustainability. I can no longer go on living a wasteful life; I now feel it is important to advocate for, and educate others in being mindful of the land they are growing up in. I'd like to recommend 8 free courses that I feel are valuable in breaking the barrier preventing people from getting educated about environmental issues.

  1. An Introduction to Sustainable Energy (OpenLearn): I think this course should be the first one someone follows when beginning their eco-friendly lifestyle. It answers the question of why sustainability matters now, and how our future will look.

  2. Can Renewable Energy Sources Power the World? (Open Learn): At 8 weeks long, this course explains measures that are currently being taken to combat human-caused climate changes, how renewable energy is becoming popular, and what upcoming products could have an effect on environmental concerns.

  3. Electric Vehicles and Mobility (Coursera - through Ecole des Ponts) This course highlights an anticipation in the switch to electric vehicles - if their use is limited to a specific demographic or if it's accessible to everyone; as well as if the use of these products is worth the overhaul of society.

  4. Foundations of Mindfulness (Coursera - through RICE) This course is a great starting point for someone seeking to learn about the concept of Mindfulness - increasing awareness in your impact on the world, and how to get in touch with your emotions as you learn how your own mind works. Self-reflection is healthy and and important step in changing your lifestyle. This can certainly be applied to becoming an eco-friendly consumer.

  5. Unravelling Solutions for Future Food Programs (Coursera- through Utrecht University) This course addresses the uneven distribution of food across the world; specifically, how some countries are going hungry while others are wasting their food. It also examines potential solutions worldwide on how to combat food waste, world hunger, and how to keep up with demand.

  6. Introduction to Growing Organic Food Sustainably (Alison) - This 3 hour course is a great option for the aspiring activist who is up to their ears in projects; but would like to tone down their fast-paced lifestyle in favour of growing their own meals. It explores several topics such as soil maintenance, compost and planting techniques.

  7. An Introduction to Sustainable Architecture (Alison) - A level 3 Alison course that explains how the natural environment can coexist with the manmade environment.

  8. Our Earth's Future (Coursera) : The Earth as we know it now, and the Earth it will become as we age. It features professors from several disciplines which gives you a unique perspective from multiple viewpoints.

It is my hope that I can encourage at least one person to shed the "stigma" of caring for our Earth; if not for ourselves, but for our descendants. Education must continue in a relatable and enjoyable manner to attract peoples' attention; which I believe each of these courses have done.

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