I am a huge learning addict. Case in point – this blog, which gives me a good reason to go and do hours (sometimes) of research on things such as flood prevention or in vitro meat. Another favorite tool of mine to add to my knowledge and understanding of the world around me are MOOCs. The acronym stands for Massive Open Online Courses, and revolves around a simple concept: free online courses that you take with thousands of other students, exchanging your views in online forums, and getting inspired by readings and links to get further involved. Sounds like even more school? Yup. But the best kind of school.
I have taken a couple of courses on Coursera already and really like their community and the way their website is set up. Yesterday I got a reminder e-mail that a new course has just started that I registered for months ago, called “Sustainability of Food Systems – A Life Cycle Analysis“. It’s taught by a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment called Jason Hill, whose research interests include “the technological, environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainable bioenergy production from current and next-generation feedstocks”, and “the effects the global biofuels industry will have on climate change, land use, biodiversity and human health.”
The course is set up around 15 questions which will be covered over eight weeks:
Week 1 (June 14 – June 20)
2. What foods do we eat?
Week 2 (June 21 – June 27)
4. How and where do we grow our food?
Week 3 (June 28 – July 4)
6. How do we process and distribute our food?
Week 4 (July 5 – July 11)
7. How do we prepare our food?
Week 5 (July 12 – July 18)
9. How do we assess the sustainability of the global food system?
Week 6 (July 19 – July 25)
11. How does what we eat affect our environment?
Week 7 (July 26 – August 1)
13. What challenges do we face in reforming the global food system?
Week 8 (August 2 – August 8)
15. How can we each contribute to a more sustainable global food system?
The thing with classes like this is that you never know at what level they are – they could be basic or quite advanced. However, this class seems to have a good mix of readings and forum activities so that you will learn from your peers even if you already have a good understanding of how our food system works. At least that is what I hope, since I am really excited to participate! If you are diligent and do all the work, you can even get a statement of accomplishment, but sometimes life just gets in the way – no worries. That is the beauty of MOOCs – no participation fee, no required attendance, just people around the world passionate about a topic and willing to learn more about it. Meet you over at Coursera?
You can join the course at any time before August 8 by creating a free profile on Coursera and enrolling. Or check out their other courses such as Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention or The Science of Gastronomy!