On November 9, University of Wisconsin-Madison will launch its sixth and final Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) of 2015. The series ends on a high note with Climate Change Policy and Public Health.
The course will be taught by Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He also serves as director of the Global Health Institute at UW-Madison. For 15 years, Dr. Patz was a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. He also served as co-chair of the Health Report of the first U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change and has published more than 90 scientific papers and three books on the subject of climate change and public health.
Climate Change Policy and Public Health will explore the ways in which climate change threatens public health, from natural disasters and heat waves to crop losses and social disruption. However, with great challenges come great opportunities.
“While climate change poses major risks to our health, policy actions to prevent climate change offer enormous and immediate health benefits,” says Patz. “Most benefits will stem from cleaner air and more physical fitness by burning less fossil fuel, as well as from diets with reduced red meat.”
Climate Change Policy and Public Health will explore a number of co-benefits, or near-term opportunities, of policies that both address climate change and offer enormous health and social benefits—from renewable energy and sustainable food systems to urban design that allows for more “active” transport. Participants in the MOOC will also hear from prominent guest experts and scholars who are thinking about these issues.
A media-rich experience
Massive Open Online Courses are noncredit learning experiences that allow an unlimited number of people from around the globe to participate. Less like a formal university class and more like a media-rich, informal learning experience, they allow people to sign up for free online and watch educational videos, participate in discussion forums, read articles, and often take quizzes or complete educational activities. People can participate in a UW-Madison MOOC on their own schedule and at their own pace.
According to Jason Vargo, postdoctoral fellow with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the open format of Climate Change Policy and Public Health is ideal for a topic like climate change.
“The delivery of information has to be as impactful and far-reaching as the topic being covered,” Vargo says. “Climate change affects all of us and, at the same time, there are many ways to be involved in the solutions. Everyone should have the chance to learn about the benefits of—and their role in—positive actions toward solving this global problem.”
The MOOC will provide participants hands-on opportunities to develop skills in communicating the science and policy connections between climate change and public health. In addition to online content, UW-Madison will encourage participants to meet face-to-face and engage around these important topics. Community members around the state will regularly gather at their local public libraries for discussions.
More information about library discussions is available here.
In November, thought leaders and experts associated with Climate Change Policy and Public Health will convene in Chicago at the largest public health meeting in the world, the American Public Health Association annual meeting, to lead an interdisciplinary discussion for practitioners in the public health community.
Climate Change Policy and Public Health is open to all participants, regardless of prior experience. Policy and decision-makers may also find the MOOC useful, as it provides a strong foundation in the core linkages between climate change and public policy.
Officially live from the November 9 to December 7, 2015, the MOOC will remain open, though unmoderated, until the end of the year as a free educational resource.