Dec. 20, 2017 – A new online course from the University of Leicester, available on the FutureLearn social learning platform, will unpick the complex global challenge that is sustainability and provide a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

The University has launched a new online short course entitled ‘Concepts in Sustainable Development: An Introduction to the Key Issues’ that will explore some of the key issues in sustainability, tackling the big questions with examples from around the world.The free six-week course, which is open to all, begins on 15 January and is open now for registration.

For most of human history, the world has experienced sustainability without development. But since humans moved from foraging to farming, we’ve seen development without sustainability. Growth and increasing world population have come as a result of advances in science and technology. Societies have adapted to these changes, but now population growth threatens to outrun technology. And the material resources required to support unrestrained development are no longer available.

Professor Derek Raine MBE, Emeritus Professor of Interdisciplinary Science at the University of Leicester, said: “To any scientist, the first step in finding a solution is to clearly understand the problem. We’re not going to present any simple solutions – there are none – but in this course, as a first step, we’re going to try to understand just why there are no simple solutions to the complex problem of sustainable development.”

The course will study the conceptual foundations of sustainable development, and discuss the issues around sustainability as a complex problem, from 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, it will examine our resilience and prospects in the face of climate change and other global issues in sustainability and ask: are we doomed?

Learners can join the course for free, or can upgrade for £42 to receive additional benefits.