A few hours’ learning will help you tackle the biggest issue of our time – our changing planet

September is synonymous with heading back to school, but education isn’t just for kids. Learning is a lifelong endeavour, and thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever before to get clued up on things you’re passionate about. We’re talking about quality, certified short courses from reputable universities and organisations – all online, and all for free!

In the run-up to COP26, climate change has never been a more pressing topic, so now is the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge and expand your understanding of climate and sustainability issues. These online courses only require a couple of hours’ commitment, can be done at your own pace, and some even come with an official certificate upon completion. And you don’t need an academic background to get started.

Climate Change: The Science
4 weeks / 3 hours per week 

Run by the University of Exeter, this four-week course looks back across four billion years of Earth’s history to help you learn the difference between ‘natural’ and ‘human’ induced climate change, before looking to the present to see how the impacts of climate change are already being felt and finally looking to the future to see what it might hold for our planet.

Learn more and enrol for free

Turning Climate Anxiety into Positive Action
2 weeks / 2 hours per week

The climate conversation can feel overwhelming at times, with more people than ever before reporting feelings of anxiety around the future of the planet. But this course, led by Samsung, aims to demonstrate how digital tools can help build resistance and resilience for the leaders of tomorrow, and how you can take control by making positive social changes.

Learn more and enrol for free

Tackling Environmental Challenges for a Sustainable Future
4 weeks / 4 hours a week

This course from the University of York will help you understand how the environment is studied, and how research is helping to develop sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Split into four sections – changing glaciers, protecting our oceans, development and energy – the course encourages everyone to reflect on building a more sustainable future for our planet.

Learn more and enrol for free

Can Renewable Energy Power the World?
8 weeks / 3 hours per week

This Open University course aims to give all participants a grounded understanding of the phenomenal role renewable energy can play in mitigating climate change. You’ll start by examining the environmental concerns that have caused a rise in interest in renewable energy, before exploring each of the principal technologies, including solar power, wind and bioenergy. Finally, you’ll look at how these technologies could help to meet the planet’s growing energy demands.

Learn more and enrol for free

Living without Oil
8 hours

Crude oil is currently our main global source of energy, but its supply is finite and our reliance on it has tremendously damaging environmental consequences. This Open University course explores why developing alternatives to oil is an essential and urgent task for humanity, and covers everything from oil’s role in climate change and the problem of its depleting supply, to non-conventional oils and potential future sources.

Learn more and enrol for free

Water in the UK
7 hours

Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. However, water shortages and drought in the UK due to global warming are often misunderstood because of our typically wet climate. This Open University course sets the record straight.

Learn more and enrol for free

Introduction to Ecology
1.5-3 hours

Ecology allows us to understand the vital connections between plants, animals, humans and the world around us. When these connections are disrupted, through climate change or human interference, the environmental consequences can be significant. This course from OpenStax College will give you a solid understanding of biodiversity, population growth and species extinction risks across environments including forests, deserts, grasslands and the Arctic tundra.

Learn more and enrol for free

The bottom line

The climate conversation can seem overwhelming at times – there’s a lot to understand. But these short courses will help boost your knowledge of the subject and give you the insight you need to make a real and impactful difference to the changing climate. And while you’re learning, check out our top 10 tips for fighting climate change to start making a difference right away!

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