Tackle global water issues with Concordia and the UN
This fall, Concordia and the United Nations Environment Programme teamed up to create a new course that wrestles with urgent issues related to the world's water supply.
From Source to Sea to Sustainability (ENV002) is the second MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to be offered by the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment. It addresses wastewater, nutrient pollution and the innovative and holistic ways we might address these problems. It also explores the collateral damage caused by water pollution and mismanagement.
The next session of the MOOC begins in January 2018. Registration is now open.
The course is also being offered as a blended learning course via the Department of Geography, Planning & Environment. Concordia students wishing to sign up for the 13-week, 3-credit course (GEOG 298) may do so via the MyConcordia portal.
The MOOC version is taught by Leonard Sklar, a new addition to the department. He holds a PhD in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
‘This is about the basic building blocks of life’
Tell us about your academic background prior to coming to Concordia.
Leonard Sklar: My undergraduate degrees are in civil engineering and applied science, from Cooper Union and NYU. During those years, I got interested in water quality while spending my summers volunteering in rural Central America.
Later, I worked as a consulting engineer, designing artificial wetlands to treat contaminated water, and as an environmental campaigner, helping people around the world protect their rivers.
Eventually I returned to school and earned a PhD in fluvial geomorphology at the University of California, Berkeley. I became a professor at San Francisco State University in 2003.
What made you choose Concordia?
LS: Concordia is a very exciting community, with tremendous diversity and energy. I particularly like the focus on bringing researchers together across disciplines and addressing big problems that matter to society.
Tell us more about the MOOC.
LS: This course is about the basic building blocks of life — nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, how they cycle naturally through the earth’s ecosystems and how humans have transformed those natural cycles and created a host of problems.
Land-based sources of nutrient pollution have a major impact on planetary health and particularly on the oceans.
We offer a holistic conceptual and practical approach, covering the scientific basics of nutrient cycling and pollution impacts, methodologies and assessment tools, financial mechanisms to protect our waters, policy and governance issues, as well as technologies for turning waste into resources.
Why is this course so timely?
LS: This course addresses an urgent need to train students who can contribute to solving the sustainability crisis, here in Canada and around the world.