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Multi-School Online Certificate Program in Sustainability

A four- university group of schools is offering a course in climate change and what changes can be made by business and government institutions to limit their contribution to global warming. The consortium is made up of the University of Washington, Northwestern University, the University of British Columbia and the University of California at Irvine. Each school is offering one of the four courses in the certificate program through their university extension divisions.

The educational design is targeted at government officials from all levels; business operations managers, utility managers, along with sustainability consultants. The concept of the program is to provide professionals in these fields with an in-depth understanding of climate change and its causes, followed by methods of improving the operations of facilities and factories that contribute to greenhouse gases and other environmental problems. This whole issue is being matched in the academic world with public administration degrees that have local government management for sustainable communities as a focus.

The first course, delivered by the University of Washington, addresses methods of incorporating sustainability goals into strategic planning. Review of mapping climate changes, is followed by the specifics for project planning including cost analysis, risk assessment, and lifecycle planning for projects that provides a long term strategic perspective. Along with distance learning certificates in sustainability, the University of Washington has developed a civil engineering degree program with concentration in environmental studies which provides a fresh look at the perspectives and priorities in the civil engineering profession.

The second course is provided by the University of British Columbia. This is the segment that addresses the science underlying climate change. It includes an explanation of greenhouse cases and their impact; and then moves into the cycle of carbon in general and the contribution to the problem made by every institution's carbon footprint. This section also addresses the social impact of climate change.

The third course, titled The Business of Effecting Climate Change is directed at the business sector and their planning issues. The course material attempts to explain how sustainability goals can provide a positive effect to the bottom line as well as to the environment. This portion of the course work is presented by the University of California at Irvine.

The final segment delves into global and national policy issues as they relate to climate change. Issues include the climate change effects caused by emerging industrial powers such as China and India; the current policies of mitigation-swapping practiced in the U.S. and under guidelines set by the European Union. This segment also addresses positive alternatives such as renewable energy resources and forestry practices that can contribute to the reduction of carbon monoxide.

This program is notable for its focus on current decision makers who are under public scrutiny with regard to implementing sustainability programs. It is also an impressive collaboration of four strong research schools on an issue that needs to be addressed by this generation of business and government officials as well as the next one. Further information on the certificate program is available at the ASG University Partners website.

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