Ecosystem Services: a Method for Sustainable Development - University of Geneva | Coursera

About this course: Ecosystem services are a way of thinking about – and evaluating – the goods and services provided by nature that contribute to the well-being of humans. 

This MOOC will cover scientific (technical), economic, and socio-political dimensions of the concept through a mix of theory, case-studies, interviews with specialists and a serious-game. By the end of this course, our aim is to enable you to:

  • define the concept of ecosystem services, its principles and limitations
  • understand the key services associated with any ressource (e.g., fresh water) through readings and case-studies
  • appreciate the advantages and potential risks of monetising ecosystem services
  • appreciate the social dimensions (power issues, cultural biases) embedded within any method
  • integrate tactical advice on mainstreaming this approach into policy and standard government practices
  • Optional: learn how to map ecosystem services with GIS tools

This MOOC is for anybody interested in mastering the strengths and weaknesses of the Ecosystem Services concept as a tool for promoting sustainable development. Subjects covered are both technical (methods for valuation, data acquisition, etc.) and socio-political (how to mainstream the process, ethics, criticism of the method, etc.). Watch an introductory video (3min) to get a feel for the course content and philosophy.

Learners will hear from many of the field’s leading minds. The course is taught by three primary instructors and by 29 guest instructors and interviewees coming from many of the key institutions (the Natural Capital Project, WWF, IUCN, IPBES, TEEB, Luc Hoffmann Institute) and Universities.  Learners can expect to hear multiple contrasting opinions. See the full syllabus and list of instructors on the course page.

This course is offered “on-demand”. In practice, class cohorts are formed on a regular basis and you can take as much time as necessary to complete the course (2-5 hours for 5 weeks is a rough estimate). The first cohort begins February 2nd 2017 and once per month thereafter.
Access to all course materials and exams is free. To obtain a certificate of completion costs 49 USD.

This course was developed by instructors from the University of Geneva with the help of numerous researchers and input from the Geneva Water Hub and the Natural Capital Project. The course was financed by the University of Geneva, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) via the Geneva Water Hub, and the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

Davnah Payne, GMBA IPO

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