Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Greening the global classroom: experiences using MOOCs to advance sustainability education

  • Jessika Luth Richter
  • Charlotte Leire
  • Peter Arnfalk
  • Kes McCormick
  • Håkan Rodhe
  • Donald Huisingh
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Publication/Series: Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference Proceedings
Document type: Conference paper

Abstract english

The proliferation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been a phenomenon in higher education but only recently the subject of academic literature. MOOCs combine the traditional ideas of cohort and guided learning with open access and a truly global classroom. With over twenty thousand learners attracted to such courses, we argue that they can be a powerful tool in advancing sustainability education in terms of global reach. Like traditional education, the quality of the education delivered by MOOCs is influenced by their design and this is also integral to their success in promoting deeper learning of sustainability topics.

However, designing a quality course and ensuring genuine learning experiences in this open and massive context is not without challenges. We describe our practical experience with curriculum design, production and delivery of a MOOC with a wide sustainability focus of "Greening the Economy: Lessons from Scandinavia". The background of students taking the MOOC, motivations and reasons for seeking this type of sustainability education and perceived benefits from this MOOC and other MOOCs with topics related to sustainability are discussed. Combining pedagogical approaches in the form of teacher-led lectures and quizzes for basic understanding with more constructivist forum discussions and peer assessment created the opportunity for the MOOC to not only disseminate knowledge about sustainability issues, but also encourage discussion, peer interaction, and deeper engagement with these issues. An interesting aspect of this reciprocal learning was the collected insights from learners in the form of case studies and survey responses. The promise, as well as potential issues, of MOOCs in contributing to the goals of sustainability education and lifelong learning are discussed and reflected upon.


  • Pedagogy
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Sustainability education
  • massive open online courses
  • pedagogy
  • online education
  • lifelong learning


Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption
Sitges, Spain
Kes McCormick
E-mail: kes [dot] mccormick [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE)

Lund University P.O. Box 196, 22100 Lund, Sweden
Visiting Address: Tegnérsplatsen 4,Lund

Telephone: + 46 46 222 00 00 Fax: + 46 46 222 02 10