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Start date: September 17, 2018

Duration: Foundations  – 6 weeks (40-hour course), Advanced Certificate – 7 weeks (1 week: additional 10-hour course compared to the foundations)

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Wicked Problems, Dynamic Solutions: The Ecosystem Approach and Systems Thinking” is offered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with Concordia University. This MOOC is disseminated through the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUSEP), currently comprised of over 790 universities globally.

Environmental problems are often described as “wicked problems” to highlight their complexity and the difficulties they entail. Finding answers to current crises such as fisheries collapse, climate change, biodiversity loss, infectious diseases, and inequitable access to resources will be amongst the greatest challenges of our time.

While conventional solutions have very often led to unintended consequences, the systems thinking approach tries to prevent it by focussing on systems as a whole, in which components are interrelated. The ecosystem approach applies systems thinking to gain a better understanding of how ecosystems function.

What will you gain from this course?

  • A well-developed knowledge of the basic features of ecosystems, the ecosystem approach and systems thinking from an interdisciplinary perspective
  • An understanding of the distinction between reductionist and holistic thinking
  • The ability to apply critical systems thinking
  • Enhanced knowledge of the inter-relationships between ecosystems and human systems
  • Specific awareness of case studies selected from representative ecosystems and related global issues, demonstrating the benefits and challenges of integrated approaches for ecosystem management and beyond
  • The necessary basis for designing creative solutions to ecosystem management and governance problems


  • The first MOOC focussing on the ecosystem approach and systems thinking
  • Case studies from around the world
  • Expert faculty and distinguished visiting lecturers
  • Open to all without restrictions
  • Develop an extensive global network with other students and professionals from around the world
  • FREE of charge, including access to all course material on a 24-hour online platform

For more information: Environment Academy