Our everyday lives are filled with many choices. What food and which clothes should I buy, how should I travel and how should I select my electricity provider. It is often difficult to determine which alternatives are best from the perspective of sustainability.
As a means to help people who want to live in a sustainable manner, Chalmers is now launching an open online course called Sustainability in Everyday Life, which is intended for anyone interested in embarking upon a sustainable path in their life. The course is a mooc, which stands for massive open online course. Moocs are offered free of charge and are available to anyone in the world who has access to a computer and an Internet connection.
"The course will offer guidance on how to achieve a more sustainable life on a day-to-day basis," says Maria Lindqvist, who is a teacher by profession but is is taking a PhD in environmental system analysis research.
She is responsible for the course together with her colleagues Anna Nyström Claesson and Matty Janssen. With different experiences under their belts, this interdisciplinary team has expertise in pedagogy and environmental and energy research. The common denominator is that they all want to contribute to a sustainable world, and web-based education can be a powerful tool to get there.
"We give people the chance to make a difference by making responsible choices in their everyday life," says Anna Nyström Claesson.
When she saw the opportunity to educate many people, she was prompted to take on the challenge of setting up a mooc, and the target group is broad as a result. Having attended compulsory-level school, being able to read and write passable English and coping with modern technology and communication are sufficient for participation.
The course is based on five themes: energy, climate change, food, chemicals and globalization. "These themes frequently recur in the news and are often topics of conversation, which is why we chose them specifically," says Anna Nyström Claesson.
Each theme will be introduced with a 15-minute video lecture. The information will then be delved into in more depth in a number of short lectures in combination with different types of exercises. The participants will also conduct some practical surveys in their everyday lives and have the opportunity to take part in a discussion forum.
To obtain a certificate for having completed the course, a final assignment must be completed to show that the participant has learned the course content and can make informed and sustainable choices. The aim is for the assignment to be gratifying to the extent that the participants look forward to doing it.
"We are working on creating inspirational and thought-provoking segments for the course that are based on both pedagogy and environmental research. We hope to develop a situation where the participants become immersed and have fun while using their knowledge from the course," says Maria Lindqvist, who is inspired by the feeling she experiences when playing video games.
The three teachers responsible for the course are passionate about the mooc project. It has awakened their creativity and prompted them to explore new ways of teaching."This is truly a major and gratifying challenge," says Matty Janssen.
During the mooc, participants will be able to observe, see context and gain new understanding for the systemized thinking that forms the basis of the sustainability concept – and naturally, obtain guidance for making sustainable choices in their everyday lives.