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Introduction to the University of British Columbia's climate change basics course

Module 1: Climate Change – Challenges and Solutions


Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.

Note: The courses listed below have been selected from a large and growing list of free online courses, aimed at learners of all levels, and available in various formats. We urge the reader to explore the various options on offer online before selecting one that suits you. 

CONVERGING CRISES 101
Free online courses to understand the key challenges of our times

Module 1: Climate Change –  Challenges and Solutions 

Climate Change
Created and hosted by: The Open University, UK

Climate change is a key issue on today’s social and political agenda. This free course explores the basic science that underpins climate change and global warming.

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lntroductory e-Course on Climate Change
Created and hosted by: UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn)

This course provides “everything you need to know” about the basics of climate change, from climate change science to governance. It contains 6 modules with each module taking about 2 hours to complete. You need to pass a quiz after each module to receive your certificate from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research ( UNITAR ).

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Climate Change (ClimChng)
Hosted by: Open2Study.com
Created by: Macquarie University, Australia

Taught by: Prof. Lesley Hughes and Interviews with Tim Flannery

Climate change is the biggest global challenge the human race has ever faced. Our insatiable demand for energy from fossil fuels is changing the atmosphere, and in turn changing our climate. Climate change is already affecting the physical surface of the earth, the environment that provides our life support, our food supply, economy and society. These changes will accelerate over the next few decades. In this course you will explore the impacts of climate change; why we should care about them, the science that underpins our understanding and how we can fix the problem before it’s too late.

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Causes of Climate Change 
Created by: The University of Bergen
Hosted by: Future Learn

This free online course provides the basis for understanding the underlying physical processes governing climate variations in the past, present and future. In the course, we focus on explaining the main external forcing mechanisms such as the sun, volcanoes, and changes in greenhouse gasses and aerosols, which can contribute to changing the global energy budget and initiate climate variations. We also describe the important role of internal feedback mechanisms and the energy transport in the atmosphere and ocean, in order to understand regional variations in climate. Through this course, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of the climate system, and be able to put the recently observed, man-made changes in climate in the context of past natural changes.

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Climate Change: The Science
Hosted by: edX.org
Created by: The University of British Columbia, Canada

Taught by: Sara E. Harris, 3M National Teaching Fellow

Master the basics of climate science so you can better understand the news, evaluate scientific evidence, and explain global warming to anyone. Climate Change: The Science is an introduction to climate science basics. We’ll discuss flows of energy and carbon in Earth’s climate system, how climate models work, climate history, and future forecasts. This course will give you the knowledge you need, and practice communicating about climate change. You’ll meet people from around the world with a huge range of local and regional climate change issues.

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Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change
Hosted by: Coursera.com
Created by: The University of Chicago, USA

Taught by: David Archer, Professor, Geophysical Sciences

This class describes the science of global warming and the forecast for humans’ impact on Earth’s climate. Intended for an audience without much scientific background but a healthy sense of curiosity, the class brings together insights and perspectives from physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, and even some economics—all based on a foundation of simple mathematics (algebra).

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Climate Change: Challenges and Solutions 
Created by: University of Exeter
Taught by: Professor Tim Lenton and Dr Damien Mansell
Hosted by: Future Learn

The course will set contemporary human-caused climate change within the context of past nature climate variability. Then it will take a risk communication approach, balancing the ‘bad news’ about climate change impacts on natural and human systems with the ‘good news’ about potential solutions. These solutions can help avoid the most dangerous climate changes and increase the resilience of societies and ecosystems to those climate changes that cannot be avoided.

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