The European University alliance CIVIS is ready to launch its first massive online open course (MOOC), and the subject is highly topical; today’s climate and energy crisis.
Alasdair Skelton, professor at Stockholm University and one of the teachers behind the MOOC, explains the importance of increasing the awareness of the current crisis:
"The most important challenge in climate and environmental work right now is human perception of climate change. The difference between future scenarios put forward by the IPCC for different human responses is far larger than the range of error within these scenarios, meaning that we understand the physical basis for climate change more than we understand how humans will respond to climate change. Human-induced climate change is sometimes referred to as a “creeping crisis”. Humans can perceive climate change as “far away” either in time or space, but it is not. Climate change is here and now. We have pressed the “fast forward” button on a geological process. Higher education will play a vital role in conveying this immediacy."
Every disciple in higher education has a role to play
An important aspect of this MOOC on climate and energy is the interdisciplinarity of the approach. CIVIS is a European University alliance, and as such involves teachers that come from ten different universities around Europe and who are experts in different fields, making this MOOC unique.
Ria Dunkley, senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Glasgow, is an interdisciplinary scholar with a foundation in cultural geography and education. She is also involved in the MOOC as a teacher for the course. "Arguably, the artificial division between nature and culture lies at the heart of the climate crisis" she says, "The challenge, therefore, facing educators and, indeed, all people alive at this moment is to find ways to reveal the interconnections between people and nature. Every disciple in higher education has a role to play in this, given that every discipline has the opportunity to redesign its curriculum in light of this reality. If disciplines realign and take up this challenge, then higher education has a chance to contribute to driving the social changes necessary for addressing the climate crisis."
The course takes the participants on a digital tour of the Swedish island Utö – located in the Stockholm archipelago. Exploring the Swedish island, while learning about the climate of the past, the current state of the climate, global cycles (carbon, water), human impacts on climate and biodiversity, and climate change solutions from energy to policy.
“The challenge of climate change calls for interdisciplinarity. Which means that as scholars, we need to be able to speak one another’s languages so that we can build solutions together,” says Alasdair Skelton. “Education has a vital role in making this happen. The challenge we are facing is global and the solutions need to be global. Working together with universities across Europe is a first step towards a more global perspective.”
MOOC with four weekly modules
The MOOC consists of four weekly modules, each of which takes approximately 3 hours. The first course cycle of the MOOC will be running from 30 January to 24 February, and the advantage of joining the first course cycle is that instructors will be online engaging in the discussions. After this period of time, the MOOC will remain available for “on-demand” access but without direct interaction with professors.
This course is for students from any background who want to approach the climate and ecological crisis from an interdisciplinary perspective. It is both a self-standing introduction to climate and energy and a “taster” for an entirely new transdisciplinary master’s program in climate and energy which CIVIS hope to launch in 2024.
Who can register?
Like many MOOCs, this course is open to anyone who is interested in the topic, and there are no requirements in terms of prior learning, and participants don’t need to be attached to a CIVIS member university. However, the course is especially relevant for undergraduates in any discipline who want to broaden their perspective on climate and energy beyond their own field of study. The course provides students with an interdisciplinary perspective concerning the challenge of meeting the energy needs of societies while mitigating climate change and avoiding biodiversity loss.
Read more and register: Climate and Energy - An interdisciplinary perspective
This article was first published on 26 January by Stockholm University.