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7 Online Courses On Environmental Justice You Can Audit For Free

Learn more about environmental justice, environmental law, and environmental threats in these courses from leading institutions

Environmental justice is the principle that all people – regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status – have the right to a healthy environment. Unfortunately, many people face severe environmental threats like pollution, improper waste disposal, toxic emissions, and more. As the effects of climate change grow worse, environmental justice has become a more widely-known concept. If you’re new to environmental justice, you may have questions like what communities are affected the most and what does environmental justice look like in practice? In this article, we’ve compiled seven online courses covering topics like environmental justice and health equity, environmental law, organizing for solutions, and more. Courses can be audited for free, though you can also get a verified certificate for a fee.

#1. Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy (The University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill)
#2. Human Health Risks, Health Equity, and Environmental Justice (University of Michigan)
#3. International Climate Change Law and Policy (NewcastleX)
#4. Environmental Challenges: Justice in Natural Resource Management (University of Leeds)
#5. Creating Sustainable Solutions to Complex Environmental Threats (University of Maryland)
#6. Thawing Permafrost: Environmental Justice in the Arctic (Woodwell Climate Research Center)
#7. Housing Justice: A View From Indian Cities (Indian Institute for Human Settlements)

#1. Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy (The University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill)

Length: 6 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 2-3 hours Level: Beginner

Not sure what environmental law and policy entail? In this course, you’ll get a thorough introduction to the basics, including how to read cases, how to apply legal principles, what the strengths and weaknesses of using the court system to address environmental problems are, and more. Topics covered include the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act; the role of risk in environmental law and policy; and whether current systems of environmental law are good enough. By the end of the course, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the legal structures surrounding pollution, water law, endangered species, toxic substances, environmental impact analyses, and environmental risk.

Donald Hornstein (Aubrey L. Brooks Professor of Law) teaches the course. He’s been featured as one of the United States’ best law teachers and has represented environmental organizations before the U.S. Supreme Court. “Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy” takes about 14 hours to complete over 6 weeks. There are no prerequisites, so it’s a good course even if you have no background in law.

REGISTER HERE

#2. Human Health Risks, Health Equity, and Environmental Justice (University of Michigan)

Length: 4 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 3-5 hours Level: Beginner

This course is the last part of the Impacts of the Environment on Global Public Health Specialization, which explores how human contact with the environment influences public health outcomes. The four courses introduce the field of environmental health sciences. “Human Health Risks” covers environmental justice and risk assessment and management. By the end, you’ll be ready to explain environmental health threats, understand who is most at risk, and use the risk assessment and management framework to examine human health risks.

Dr. Richard Neitzel teaches the course. He’s an exposure scientist, a Certified Industrial Hygienist, and an associate professor in environmental health sciences. While this course is the last part of a specialization, no prerequisites are required. On its own, the course takes about 4 weeks or 17 hours total.

REGISTER HERE

#3. International Climate Change Law and Policy (Newcastle University)

Length: 4 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 2-3 hours Level: Intermediate

This law course explores the international laws and policies targeted at climate change, including the 2015 Paris Agreement. You’ll cover topics like the evidence for climate change, the international frameworks and policies, and the Standard-Price-Approach. By the end of the course, you’ll be ready to analyze and apply Environmental Economics theory, analyze the causes of climate change, and show intercultural awareness and sensitivity to other nation’s social and economic perspectives. It’s a great course for people working in the environmental and resources sectors, public policy, sustainability consulting, and government sectors.

Elena Aydos (Senior Lecturer), Sven Rudolph (Associate Professor at Kyoto University), and Christopher Kellett (Professor) teach the course. With 2-3 hours of work per week, the course takes about 4 weeks to finish. While there are no prerequisites, this course is intermediate, so you’ll benefit from some background knowledge or experience in law and/or economics.

REGISTER HERE

#4. Environmental Challenges: Justice in Natural Resource Management (University of Leeds)

Length: 2 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 5 hours Level: Open level

Every culture in the world values justice, but equality is still very difficult to achieve. In this course, you’ll explore three aspects of justice and apply them to natural resource management around the world. Topics covered include the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Terms of Reference, the difference between economic approaches, and major figures like John Rawls and Douglass North. By the end of the course, you’ll be ready to explain Arrow Impossibility and the problems with collective decision-making; discuss institutional economics and transaction costs; and produce a Terms of Reference for Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Jon Lovett, who is Chair of Global Challenges at the School of Geography, teaches the course. He also works on institutional economics. This course is a great choice for anyone interested in environmental justice. No prerequisites are required. With 5 hours of work per week, the course takes just 2 weeks. It provides 14 hours of CPD time, though you’ll need to pay for a certificate to verify you’ve completed the course.

REGISTER HERE

#5. Creating Sustainable Solutions to Complex Environmental and Societal Threats / Stakeholder Collaboration: Organizing for Environmental Justice and Equitable Solutions (UMD, USMx, UMCES)

Length: 4 months / 5 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 3-5 hours Level: Intermediate

Creating Sustainable Solutions to Complex Environmental and Societal Threats is a program that provides you with a professional certificate in Environmental Project Management: Co-Creating Sustainable Solutions. There are three courses, including “Stakeholder Collaboration: Organizing for Environmental Justice and Equitable Solutions.” In this course, you’ll learn about trans-disciplinary approaches to co-designing complex environmental solutions. By the end of the course, you’ll be ready to identify the different stakeholders involved in environmental management projects; create a shared vision; work with different engagement tools; and manage conflict.

There are four instructors for both the program and specific course: Richard Arnold (Director of STEM Engagement), William Dennison (VP for Science Application), John Johnson (Professional Programs Manager), Bill Brantley (Faculty), and Vanessa Vargas-Nguyen (Science Integrator with the Integration and Application Network). If you take all three courses, the program takes 4 months with 3-5 hours of work per week. The “Stakeholder Collaboration” course, which is intermediate, takes 5 weeks. There are no prerequisites, so you can take the course by itself.

REGISTER HERE and HERE

#6. Thawing Permafrost: Science, Policy, and Environmental Justice in the Arctic (Woodwell Climate Research Center)

Length: 4 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 2 hours Level: Intermediate

Climate change has transformed the Arctic, which is now warming at more than three times the global rate. This has a severe effect on permafrost, which is soil frozen solid for years at a time. What happens when this permanently frozen ground thaws? This course discusses the threats thawing permafrost poses on people, ecosystems, the land, and infrastructure. Topics covered include the policy responses, Indigenous-led adaptation frameworks, and the global permafrost carbon feedback loops. By the course’s end, you’ll be ready to discuss what permafrost is and why it thaws, the impact thaws have, why emissions from thawing permafrost should be part of the world’s climate targets, and how to support Indigenous-led frameworks.

Brendan Rogers and Susan Natali teach the course. Brendan is an Earth System scientist at Woodwell and deputy lead of the Permafrost Pathways project. Susan is the Woodwell Arctic Program director, Senior Scientist, and leader of the Permafrost Pathways project. This course benefits policymakers, environmental justice advocates, and anyone who wants to learn more about permafrost thaw. With 2 hours of work per week, the course takes 4 weeks to complete.

REGISTER HERE

#7. Housing Justice: A View From Indian Cities (Indian Institute for Human Settlements)

Length: 7 weeks Mode: Self-paced Commitment: 1-4 hours Level: Beginner

Environmental justice and housing justice are closely linked. In this course, you’ll learn about the different approaches to housing justice, which include material, ecological, social, and spatial approaches. While it uses Indian cities as its main example, you’ll learn more about housing justice on a global scale, too. Topics covered include adequate housing, rental housing, collective action, and modes of action. By the course’s end, you’ll be ready to meaningfully discuss housing justice frameworks and concepts, analyze housing justice in light of your own experiences, and clearly outline your own ideas and views on housing justice.

Swastik Harish and Gautam Bhan teach the course. Swastik is a consultant whose research focuses on housing for the urban in India, heritage planning and management, data visualization, and urban infrastructure provision. Guatam is the associate dean for the School of Human Development with research experience on displacement and resettlement of the urban poor in Delhi, regimes of urban welfare and social security, and more. With between 1-4 hours of work per week, you can complete the course in 7 weeks. There are no prerequisites.

REGISTER HERE or READ OUR REVIEW

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.