Skip main navigation

The story so far

How we perceive the future influences how we act. Identify and discuss actions you will take to create sustainable futures.
Half-filled glass of water on table.
© Deakin University

Is the glass half empty or half full?

In this short course we have:

  • explored global challenges including the key concept of boundaries within which the planet can still operate safely
  • investigated the combination of the human impact on the environment and the ever increasing human population.

Climate change is probably our greatest challenge because human-induced climate change is already manifesting in everything from extreme weather events to rising sea levels. Mitigating actions now can, however, reduce the magnitude of the changes.

Views of the future

Although it would be possible to take the ‘glass half empty’ view of our future, an emerging awareness of the scale and extent of the problem is one cause for optimism.

The linking of human development and environmental sustainability for the whole planet in the Sustainable Development Goals is another.

Action is essential, however, given the nature of our economic systems that have promoted a growth paradigm over sustainable human development; the benefits of which are only realised by about 20% of the humans on the planet (and a lot fewer benefits to the plants, animals and non-human planetary occupants).

Perhaps now is the time to abandon the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty thinking on the future of humanity and look for a different size glass – one that is designed to achieve a sustainable future.

What action can you take?

Thinking about the ideas that you have just shared about work or technological innovations, identify one thing that you will do as a result of this course that will contribute to a sustainable future in your country.

Your task

What are you going to do today? Share in comments.

© Deakin University
This article is from the free online

Introduction to Sustainability and Development

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education