Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

11/22/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/22/2019 08:59

Four new MOOCs focus on sustainable development

KU Leuven has launched four new MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses. The United Nations sustainable development goals are central to each of the courses. Through these MOOCs, the university emphasizes its commitment to university development cooperation.

Education at KU Leuven no longer only takes place between the four walls of the university auditoriums. The university is expanding its online education offering, with a special focus on MOOCs, offered free of charge via the edX platform to a global audience. With the four new courses, KU Leuven now offers a total of sixteen MOOCs. This number will continue to grow steadily in the coming months.

The new MOOCs each deal with global challenges. Central are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): seventeen objectives, defined by the United Nations, that serve as the global framework for sustainable development. The four courses aim to provide new insights to tackle development challenges in dialogue with partners in the Global South.

'With the launch of these MOOCs, KU Leuven is reinforcing its commitment to sustainable development,' says Vice Rector Chris Van Geet. 'This course is the latest addition to our university development cooperation offering. It is important for us that the courses were developed in close collaboration with partners in the South. This is not a story of us versus them: we need to work together to find sustainable solutions for global issues.'

'MOOCs help us to position ourselves internationally in the areas in which we excel,' says Vice Rector Piet Desmet, responsible for educational technology. 'At the same time, there is also an important social dimension to shaping knowledge and science with international partners and disseminating it globally. The first registration figures for the new MOOCs show that we reach a diverse audience: not only in Western countries, but also in Central and South America, Asia and Africa.'

(article continues below the photograph)

Sustainable thread

The four MOOCs on Sustainable Development have been developed with the support of Global Minds, a programme of VLIR-UOS (the Flemish Interuniversity Council - University Development Cooperation).

This MOOC discusses how soil literally forms the basis for sustainable development. Soil management is crucial in the provision of food and water, the conservation of biodiversity and the fight against global warming. The course takes participants on a virtual journey through different tropical areas and discusses typical soil characteristics of forests, mountains, grasslands, deserts and wetlands.

  • Clinical Nutrition: the North-South Experience (registration will start in the first months of 2020)

Nutrition is an indispensable source of quality of life. More specifically, it plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of various chronic conditions. This course discusses relevant health issues, such as obesity, diabetes and infectious diseases, and nutritional medical treatments. The emphasis is also on areas with limited resources.

It is estimated that irrigation consumes 70 per cent of the world's water resources and is responsible for 40 per cent of food production. Water supply is under pressure due to population growth, changes in land use and climate changes. Therefore, we have to grow food using less water. This MOOC unites different aspects: the need for better irrigation systems, insight into crop needs and the sociological context.

The Sustainable Development Goals, developed by the United Nations in 2015, shape the global socio-economic agenda until 2030. The 17 objectives aim to achieve a more sustainable society, economy and planet. This MOOC offers an in-depth look at the importance of the SDGs and how the objectives relate to each other. Each SDG is discussed individually, by different experts, with a critical eye on the current state of affairs and feasibility.