Online Microcredential in Nature & Environment

Tackling the Climate Crisis: Innovation from Cuba

Explore Cuba’s response to crises and how their “thrifty innovation” can help develop solutions to climate change challenges.

Created by

The Open UniversityThe Open University

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Develop resourceful solutions to the climate crisis through Cuban insights

An unexpected source for inspiration, Cuba has had no choice but to find low-cost ways of dealing with decades of crises, disasters, and emergencies, leading to a unique “thrifty innovation” approach that has achieved remarkable results.

This course explores a new take on innovation to tackle the climate crisis, tracing the evolution of Cuban science and unique solutions through resourceful resilience.

Learn new methodologies and develop skills to innovate

Find out how Cubans have developed strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation, including innovations in food production, protection of coastal areas, coping with rising urban temperatures, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Drawing inspiration from distinctive Cuban methodologies, our academic research and holistic view provides an innovation framework to develop your own appropriate, possible, and actionable solutions to tackle climate change.

This unique 10-week microcredential is more than discovering and learning about new innovative ways of tackling the climate crisis. You will be equipped with tools and insights that you can apply to your chosen challenge.

Discover how Cuba’s “thrifty innovation” can help develop solutions to climate change challenges

This course looks at what characterises the Cuban approach to innovation as it is applied to different challenges. You’ll also learn how you might apply some of the principles to tackling climate change.

You’ll discover how Cubans are focusing on natural solutions and community involvement to protect coastal areas and adapt their food system to ensure basic nutritional needs are met. Then, you’ll discuss how, in the face of extreme weather events, the Cuban approach to disaster readiness, responsiveness, and recovery (DRRR) has minimised loss of life.

Although Cuba’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is minuscule, you’ll discover what it can gain from a low-carbon future. You’ll also see how its scientists, engineers, and planners are applying “thrifty innovation” to the challenge.

Throughout the course you’ll take part in weekly activities to support and consolidate your learning. At the end of the course, having explored different perspectives from Cuba, you’ll submit an assessment which is marked and graded by academic experts from The Open University. You’ll be invited to share your thoughts and plans for action, using the “thrifty innovation” framework, alongside your new knowledge and skills, to tackle the climate crisis the Cuban way.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds JAMES WARREN: The climate crisis is the most pressing challenge facing us today. We all know we need to adapt to the rapidly changing climate and get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible. Yet the problem is no one has figured out how to do that. But sometimes, the solutions can be found in unlikely places.

Skip to 0 minutes and 37 seconds EMILY MORRIS: In this course, we’re going to show you how Cuba of all places is using original and effective ideas to tackle the climate crisis. Cuba is a country with limited resources, yet it’s achieving world class standards in education and health care. And now, its citizens are developing original ways to do the same for the environment, ideas that might just work for the rest of the world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds JAMES WARREN: Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll be combining our areas of research to show you how Cuban thrifty innovation has been used to overcome hardship and difficulty. By speaking to Cuban academics and people on the ground, we’ll find out how they’re tackling issues such as rising sea levels, food shortages, and greenhouse gas emissions.

What skills will you learn?

  • Innovative thinking
  • Managing risks
  • Cultural understanding
  • Understanding the importance of institutional development
  • Evaluating and managing resources
  • Critical thinking
  • Essential knowledge of developing climate crisis solutions
  • Applied frameworks thinking

What you will achieve

By the end of the microcredential, you’ll be able to...

  • Explain the impacts of climate change on the world’s small island developing states (SIDS), including Cuba
  • Understand the particular characteristics of a “thrifty innovation” approach among a range of possible responses to various climate crisis challenges
  • Identify current approaches being applied to a climate crisis challenge that you are familiar with
  • Recognise the lessons that can be drawn from “thrifty innovation” and the Cuban experience and apply them to your chosen challenge
  • Understand the broader application and principles of creative innovation
  • Develop an appropriate, possible, and actionable response to your climate crisis challenge

Are you eligible for this microcredential?

The course material does not assume that learners have prior knowledge of Cuba. Some familiarity with global scientific, economic and social consequences of the climate crisis would be beneficial. You do not require any specific experience or qualifications to enrol.

The course draws on practical examples from the Cuban approach to tackle the climate crisis and will help you to develop an appropriate, possible, and actionable response to your climate crisis challenge.

The course has a global focus and delivers transferable skills for diverse sectors and organisations.

Is this microcredential right for you?

This microcredential will appeal to a variety of learners, including:

  • People seeking a new approach to innovation techniques and to develop knowledge of thrifty solutions to the climate crisis
  • Business leaders and entrepreneurs interested in tackling climate crisis issues with limited resources
  • People seeking to add climate crisis solutions knowledge to their skills
  • Anyone currently working or looking to work in sustainability or community-level climate crisis projects
  • Learners working in the international development community, including NGOs, charities, and policymakers


What happens before, during, and after your microcredential

  • Before learning

    You’ll have access to our online welcome area where you’ll be able to read any information relating to your microcredential.

    Before the course starts, you’re encouraged to research the subjects of climate crisis, Cuba’s recent history, politics, society and challenges faced by developing countries.

  • Course


    Tackling the Climate Crisis: Innovation from Cuba

    Explore Cuba’s response to crises and how their “thrifty innovation” can help develop solutions to climate change challenges.

    10 weeks

    10 hours per week

  • After learning

    Your submitted assessment will be marked and graded by academic experts from The Open University. You’ll continue to have ongoing access to the course materials.

What you will receive

10 UK credits at Undergraduate level from The Open University and a certificate

Academic credits are awarded on passing the final assessment. These will be at undergraduate level 6 of the Framework for Higher Education (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) / Level 10 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

Find out how credits work and where you can use them in our FAQs.

What is a microcredential?

Microcredentials are designed to upskill you for work in rapidly-growing industries, without the time and cost commitment of a full degree. Your microcredential can stand alone as an independent credential, and some also offer academic credit to use towards a degree.

Learn online with expert instructors

Complete online courses led by experts over multiple weeks with a dedicated group of professionals.

Complete project-based assessments

Test your understanding with online tutor-marked assessments and exercises.

Earn a professional credential

Finish your learning and pass your assessments to gain an accredited credential.

Advance further in your career

Use your microcredential as evidence of your specialised skills and progress further in your industry.

Career-focused learning by The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Delivered by experts

Dr James Warren is a Senior Lecturer at The Open University and has written many modules on transport studies and the environment. He has a special interest in traffic emissions in Havana, Cuba.

Dr Morris is an economist, specialising in the Caribbean region and based at the UCL Institute of the Americas. Her research collaboration with Caribbean partners focuses on sustainable development.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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You will have 14 days from the day the course starts to apply for a refund. If this Microcredential has any non-refundable costs they will be stated in the ‘Overview’ section above. You can find more information in our cancellation and refund policy.

Microcredentials are designed to fit around your life and timezone.

There may be live events as part of your studies, but these will be recorded and can be watched afterwards if you aren’t online for the live broadcast.

No, microcredentials are designed to be taken anywhere in the world. You won’t need the right to study in the country where the university offering the microcredential is based.

Microcredentials are stand-alone products, designed to meet specific learner and employer needs and offer a credential in their own right. Those awarded by The Open University have a credit value at either undergraduate or postgraduate level, and this may in the future be used towards qualifications (for example, a Bachelor’s Degree, Diploma of Higher Education or Postgraduate Certificate) at The Open University, or potentially at another university (subject to the agreement of the receiving institution).

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