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Online course

Introduction to Sustainability and Development

Explore the impact of human activity on our planet, and what we can do to ensure a sustainable future for everybody.

Introduction to Sustainability and Development

This course is part of the program Sustainability and Development, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Development and Humanitarian Action. Find out more.

How can we create a more sustainable future?

As extreme weather events continue to hit the headlines, it is clear that environmental issues are on the rise across the globe.

Get an introduction to sustainable development, and find out what we can do to help our environment, with this online course from Deakin University.

You’ll explore the different ways in which sustainable development can be understood, and examine the true impact of human activity on our planet.

You’ll find out about recent actions that have been taken to achieve sustainable development, and the solutions that we may need to implement in the future.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsHave you ever felt bombarded by bad news? Climate change stories hit the headlines daily, from extreme weather events causing floods, fire, and drought, to the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef here in Australia. Other significant environmental issues range from the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the health issues associated with air pollution in places such as Lagos, Karachi, Beijing, and of course, even in Los Angeles. It's clear that human impact on the planet is immense, and in some cases, it is irreversible. However, it's only half the story. Sustainable development is about what we have done, but it's also about what we can do as individuals, as communities, and as nations to change the path of human development.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsIn this course, you'll learn about sustainable development in terms of decisions we can make today to positively affect the future. We will learn about development. We'll learn about sustainability and sustainable development. We'll look at the different ways in which sustainable development can be understood. We'll investigate the impact that we as humans have had on our environment. We'll explore the ways in which the future may be different if we act now in the present. We're expecting people from all over the world with very diverse perspectives. This should make for a fascinating two weeks of study I'm looking forward to working with you on this FutureLearn course.

What topics will you cover?

  • diverse understandings of sustainability and development
  • changing planetary conditions and the growing human population
  • what the future might look like, and the potential for technology to save us

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced
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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Critically review diverse perspectives of sustainable development
  • Investigate how interactions between human development and environmental life support systems are/have been managed in real world cases
  • Identify the characteristics and be able to differentiate between development, sustainability and sustainable development

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at anyone interested in social and environmental issues, but may be of particular interest to those looking to enter, or currently working in the field of international and community development.

Who will you learn with?

Max Kelly

Max Kelly has over 15 year’s experience teaching and researching issues in sustainability and development. Max has experience across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Who developed the course?

Deakin University is one of Australia’s largest universities with more than 58,000 students studying online and on-campus.

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Join this course


  • Access to this course for 4 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes


  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

Advance your career with a degree

What's different about this course?

Since 2017 you have been able to take a degree on FutureLearn. This free course is a bit like a starter course for a degree — it should give you a flavour of the degree subject but can also be your first step towards a degree qualification.

If you enjoy this course you can apply to join the program it’s part of to start working towards a degree on FutureLearn.

Don’t worry, you can still take the course without doing a full degree!

How do degrees work on FutureLearn?

Do the free course
Join and complete the program
Get academic credit for an online degree from Deakin University

Which program and degree is this course part of?

This course is part of the program Sustainability and Development, which is one of the building blocks that leads to a degree in Development and Humanitarian Action.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

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