Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

5 Environmental Justice Courses You Can Audit for Free

Environmental justice, like social justice, is bound to beliefs about fairness, equality, and equity. It’s founded on the right to a safe environment where everyone can access essentials like clean water and clean air, but it expands into areas like the right to health, the right to decent housing, and the right to a safe working environment. Economic justice, gender equality, and racial justice are all part of the discussion. To learn more, here are five environmental courses you can audit for free:

Human Health Risks, Health Equity, and Environmental Justice

From: The University of Michigan
Time to complete: 4 weeks (17 hours total)

Part 4 of the “Environment on Global Public Health” specialization, this course covers environmental justice, risk assessment, and risk management. Over 4 weeks, students will learn what environmental justice is, what groups of people are most vulnerable, and how to employ a four-step risk assessment process. The last week explores how to employ risk management to address and mitigate environmental injustice. Taught in English, the class takes 17 hours to complete. It’s associated with the Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan. Deadlines are flexible.

Environmental Justice

From: The University of East Anglia
Time to complete: 5 weeks (20 hours total)

This free course teaches students about the link between environmental problems and injustice. An interdisciplinary team of scholars and films shot in Latin America, Asia, and Africa lead the course. Students will also hear from environmental activists and share with fellow students through discussions, quizzes, and other assignments. Themes tackled include biodiversity, deforestation, and climate change. After the course, students will know how to discuss environmental justice and the reasons why effective, sustainable environmental management needs to include justice.

This course is designed for anyone familiar with environmental issues or with experience working on environmental problems. A background in international development isn’t required, but it’s helpful. When you join for free, you have access to the course for 7 weeks. With a weekly pace of 4 hours per week, you should complete the course in 5 weeks. The course is available in English and Spanish.

Environmental Challenges: Justice In Natural Resource Management

From: The University of Leeds
Time to complete: 2 weeks (10 hours total)

A fairly short course, “Environmental Challenges” examines three aspects of justice and applies them to natural resource management. Students are also introduced to the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Terms of Reference. Week 1 breaks down the three principles: the justice principle, transaction costs (which looks at how we transact in society), and the arrow impossibility, which demonstrates the impossibility of equal representation. Week 2 applies those three principles through a case study, a discussion, and a written assignment.

This course is designed for beginners interested in justice and environmental decision-making. No previous courses or experience are necessary. If you take the free audit track, you’ll have access to the course for 4 weeks. With 5 hours of study per week, you should complete the course in 2 weeks.

Housing Justice: A View From Indian Cities

From: Indian Institute for Human Settlements
Time to complete: 7 weeks (17 hours total)

In this course, students learn about housing justice using ecological, social, material, and spatial approaches. Framed around Indian cities, the course also applies to housing justice on a global scale. Students learn what housing justice looks like, as well as the practices that fuel justice, like activism, public policy, and participatory governance. Topics include adequate housing, rental housing, collective action, and modes of action. There are no other courses or past experiences needed for this course. The weekly commitment ranges from 1-4 hours.

International Climate Change Law and Policy

From: The University of Newcastle Australia
Time to complete: 4 weeks (2-3 hours a week)

International climate change law is a complicated and controversial subject. In this course, students analyze climate change causes and how climate change has impacted different generations and countries. They’ll also learn about legal principles, rules, and institutions, as well as the Theory of Externalities and how prices (like the Standard-Price-Approach and Taxes vs. Cap-And Trade) play a role. By the end, students will have a firm grasp of international climate change law and policy.

This class is at an intermediate level, but there are no prerequisites required. It’s a good choice for professionals working in governments, public policy, and the NGO and private sector. With a weekly commitment of 2-3 hours, you should complete the course in 4 weeks. The free audit track may offer limited access to all the course materials.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.