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A Sustainable Earth


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Full course description




14 Hours






What you'll learn:

A Sustainable Earth begins with a study of global climate change: its impacts, the reasons behind the rapid warming of Earth, and the scientific tools that are used to study this phenomenon. Students will also learn about energy production and consumption, on a local and global scale. Why are some forms of energy more harmful to the natural environment than others? What are the pros and cons of each? Students will dive into the world of solid waste (not literally) and discover the impacts of solid waste on water and air quality, ocean systems and economic systems. Finally, students will examine urban systems in developed and developing nations to discover the benefits of smart growth and common issues that face both types of nations.

What you'll do:

A Sustainable Earth has 4 modules. The first module introduces the scientific basis for global climate change - the primary driving issue in sustainability. This module begins with a discussion of the current and projected impacts of global climate change on people and natural ecosystems ("why do we care?").Students will discover that climate science dates back to the 1800s. They will learn about early advances in climate science and the scientific tools that scientists use to determine climates of the past and how this helps to determine whether current climate changes are caused by human activities. Students will examine temperature and precipitation plots from the past century at different locations to determine how the climate is changing in different regions. Finally, students will gain an understanding of climate models and how they predict impact of future greenhouse gas emissions. The second module in this course will focus on energy production and consumption. Students will calculate their carbon footprint, look up the fuel sources for electricity in their zip code, and compare fuel efficiencies of vehicles to determine which are best for the environment. Students will become educated energy consumers who understand the impact of their consumption on Earth. Module 3 addresses an issue that poses problems across the world. How do we safely dispose of solid waste? They will learn how recycling helps to decrease energy consumption, water and air pollution, and to protect our oceans. Students will examine and reflect on the amount of waste that they produce, and ways that they can further reduce, reuse and recycle. In the fourth and final module, students will examine Smart Growth strategies and analyze results from an urban sprawl study to examine which cities in the U.S. have more sprawl and why. They will learn the benefits of smart growth strategies. Further, they will compare urban issues in developing and developed nation contexts to determine which issues are similar from one context to the other.

Who this course is designed for:

General audience. Anyone who wants to learn more about sustainability issues.

What you'll receive:

A digital badge from ASU


Meet the instructor

Susannah Sandrin, Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Sandrin has an interdisciplinary background in environmental science, hydrology and engineering. She currently teaches a large, popular introductory environmental science course at ASU. Her research interests are related to STEM education and strategies for engaging a more diverse group of future scientists and engineers to help us solve our challenges of the future. She is eternally optimistic due to her experiences working with the fabulous students at ASU as she recognizes their immense potential and passion for making the world a better place.