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A Beginner's Guide to Environmental Science: Wicked Problems and Possible Solutions

CQUniversity Australia via FutureLearn


Learn how environmental management can help address issues that impact us all

Environmental issues affect every human being, and are a truly global concern. This four-week course, presented by CQUniversity, gives a comprehensive introduction not only to the current problems and threats to the environment but also to possible solutions and effective environmental management.

Understand the science underpinning environmental issues

You’ll start by learning about the nature of environmental science, resources, the basis of the world’s ecosystem, and the concept of the triple bottom line for sustainability.

With this strong foundational knowledge, you’ll be able to look at the other issues raised over the course. Not only will you understand them, but you’ll also see how to manage them and what solutions are possible.

Explore the wicked problems facing environmental management

The term ‘wicked problems’ comes from the field of planning and policy. It refers to issues that are difficult or seemingly impossible to solve. For the rest of this course, you’ll be taking a close look at the wicked problems that sustainability and environmentalism are currently facing.

You’ll unpack global climate change, generation of waste, fossil fuel consumption, and, perhaps most challenging of all, the impact of the human population explosion. You’ll also get to explore potential solutions, such as renewable energy sources, and how environmental impacts can be lessened with effective management.

Learn from environmental science experts

CQUniversity is a hub of scientific research and meaningful projects that better the lives of all Australians. This ethos and the University’s strong academic history (as well as the world-renowned lead educator) make it the ideal place to learn about environmental issues and ways to deal with them.

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning the basics of environmental science, including the issues facing the environment and what the human race can do to help.


  • The Fundamental Concepts
    • Course introduction
    • The Nature of Environmental Science
    • What are resources, ecosystem services and the environment?
    • Basis of our natural system
    • Triple bottom line
    • Cause, effect, solution
    • Week 1 Quiz
  • The Wicked Problem of Human Demography
    • Introduction to Week 2
    • Global Population
    • Calculating annual growth rates and doubling time
    • What is Demography?
    • Biocapacity & Ecological footprint
    • Week 2 Quiz
  • Atmosphere and Global Climate Change
    • Week 3 Introduction
    • What is the atmosphere?
    • Understanding your emissions: an example
    • Global Climate Change
    • Week 3 Quiz
  • Waste Generation
    • Week 4 Introduction
    • Categories of Waste
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Hazardous Waste Disposal
    • Recycling, reuse and refurbishment
    • Week 4 Quiz
    • Beginner's Guide to Environmental Science Test

Taught by

Deb Friel


4.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 35 ratings

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