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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Ecosystem Services: a Method for Sustainable Development by University of Geneva

599 ratings

About the Course

Ecosystem services are a way of thinking about – and evaluating – the goods and services provided by nature that contribute to the well-being of humans. This MOOC will cover scientific (technical), economic, and socio-political dimensions of the concept through a mix of theory, case-studies, interviews with specialists and a serious-game. By the end of this course, our aim is to enable you to: • define the concept of ecosystem services, its principles and limitations • understand the key services associated with any ressource (e.g., fresh water) through readings and case-studies • appreciate the advantages and potential risks of monetising ecosystem services • appreciate the social dimensions (power issues, cultural biases) embedded within any method • integrate tactical advice on mainstreaming this approach into policy and standard government practices • Optional: learn how to map ecosystem services with GIS tools The session that runs May 29th- July 10th will be actively monitored by the instructors, and learners will have the opportunity to ask questions. This course was developed by instructors from the University of Geneva with the help of numerous researchers and input from the Geneva Water Hub and the Natural Capital Project. The course was financed by the University of Geneva, the Global Programme Water Initiatives of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Luc Hoffmann Institute. This MOOC is supported by the Geneva Water Hub and the University of Geneva along with the MOOC in « Water Resources Management and Policy » ( and the one in « International Water Law » ( We look forward to you joining us!...

Top reviews


Sep 6, 2017

Great course. Awesome introduction to Ecosystem Services. Well-balanced portrayal of the many tensions and difficulties in the field. Also a great exposure to MANY experts and many diverse opinions.


Feb 28, 2021

That's a great course. Not only introducing the approach, but providing us with different pro and cons of the method. And it gives a lot to critical thinking on the topic. I found it really helpful

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1 - 25 of 205 Reviews for Ecosystem Services: a Method for Sustainable Development

By Christopher M I

Jun 5, 2017

I found this course very exciting and informative!! I learned a great deal about valuing ecosystem services and its complex challenges. I will highly suggest this course to fellow learners!

By Peter S

Apr 25, 2020

Interesting course which gives a good overview of Ecosystem Services as a method and concept. The course does a great job of incorporating both supportive and critical voices on the topic.

By Humberto B

Jul 6, 2017

Great, great course.

If you do not have geography knowledge will be difficult the last case and modelling with the softwares, but you'll do it.

Very important stuff to know:

1, It requires you to do a previous Standfort course (free), so that's a 2x1.

2, This course it is highly mind blowing for economist, policy makers, activist, financial and statistician people.

3, Instructors are great and some of them are la creme dela creme, so enjoy them!

By Christian T

Oct 25, 2018

An interesting course on understanding several ecosystem services more in-depth, as well as the ways these are quantified. I personally enjoyed also the critical perspectives at the concept

By April H

Dec 15, 2017

I already had some educational background in ecosystem services prior to this course. The lecturers did thoroughly discuss the ethical implications of monetization over other, more implicit methods of ecosystem services valuation (although they were not as clear as they could have been with those terms, for example referring to "ecosystem services" as a method rather than a term to describe environmental impacts on humans that implies a specific mindset towards the environment). However, the class was poorly organized in that it consisted of a basket of case studies and interviews rather than building from a theoretical foundation. My hope was that this course would provide more technical detail, especially with regard to valuation methods and GIS. I was most interested in the optional module 6 and ended up learning only basic skills with QGIS from it. I'm glad I did not pay for this course, because it was not worth $49.

By Megan D

Sep 29, 2017

Good overview of what is involved in ES work. Would have been more helpful to learn some of the data gathering techniques or have more solid practice with methods for assessing ES. Also would have liked required reading that paired along with the sections. Each section was way too short and watching intro and outro was frustrating. Did not like the interviews mostly because of the way they were shot and the Professor asking questions seemed under prepared and just looked down at his papers...

By José M R

Feb 28, 2018

Excellent course. Very informative, motivating, eye-opening and thought-provoking. Highly interesting subjects addressed. Well-lectured (clear, understandable voices) which is seldom enough to be mentioned. Technically sound also (audio-graphisms-photography) which is important. Most of all, highly respectful of students learning needs, making it enjoyable to/for all learning levels.

Interesting contradictory debates among teachers/lecturers; definitely an innovative approach for a MOOC!

By Erik S

May 5, 2017

An interesting course to learn about the emergence, context, beliefs, methods, experiences and risks of the economic approach to ecological functions. It is well done, with a lot of engagement by the teaching staff, especially Dr. Schlaepfer. Sometimes a little bit to talkative, sometimes a little bit to partial or ideological, sometimes missing of forgetting that there exist other proved integrative approaches to the (e)valuation of ecologic functions – like the verbal argumentative approach in Germany’s landscape planning and EIA - and that most of the nature conservation we can observe today – from the 19th Century on - was achieved by other than economic or monetary reasoning. I would like to suggest: (first) including a better substantiation of the ecological foundations of the approach considering that the implicit assumption of nature as “capital” offering “services” has a really weak conceptual base; (second) to profound on the issue of our limited capacity to discount the future where I see an interesting option to apply economic thinking to nature conservation; and (third) to include a more modern approach to decision making in political institutions. Since the 1970’s we know in policy analysis pretty well that decision making is conditioned by consensus-conflict-processes and that information processing - even sophisticated one as proposed in the course - is considered in decision making only if it fits to the results of consensus-conflict processes. Kind regards and thanks very much.

By Isak W

Aug 16, 2018

Very disappointed with this one! From the sleepy experts talking with monotonous voices about things that much of the time felt out of place. It seems that every single lecture was more or less an improvisation. I think I'd rather see something a bit less haphazard. Also, much of the focus of the course lay on NATCAP. Often it feels like a very boring advertisement for NATCAP. I would not recommend it.

By Leopold K

Jun 18, 2020

Excellent! I would really like to thank all the teachers, for their excellent pedagogy, who participated in the development of this wonderful MOOC. I loved this combination of theory and the practical examples offered. Indeed, I have been more than enriched by the different modules and I am delighted to see that the environmental problem is not left behind in the sustainable development objectives. I know today what ecosystem services are and what are its scientific (technical) aspects, its economic and socio-political dimensions. However, the economic approach does not seem to me to be a solution, either short, medium or long term, when we look at the history of neoliberalism.

Again "Thank you" for the opportunity of this training which changed my mentality. Now, I will focus on reading the documents I have been able to download on ecosystem services and supplement the knowledge acquired in this MOOC.

To all those involved in this MOOC, I renew my thanks, my respect and my gratitude.

By Manish R

Apr 21, 2022

I thank all the Instructors at the University of Geneva for sharing their valuable expertise in the ecosystem services field in this very interesting, informative, and well-organized course. Learning about the ecosystem services method and its applications, mainstreaming, valuation of ecosystem services and biodiversity, incorporating ecosystem services in decision-making, remote sensing, and future scope of the field provided me a new perspective. I also thank all the Experts from various organizations for sharing their expertise and valuable insights from their experience of working on various aspects of the ecosystem services field, including valuation and implementation.

By leila s

Mar 10, 2018

Found the course to be very educational and interesting. The concept of ecosystem services itself appears to be the most obvious development strategy once you hear about it., which makes it very surprising that it does not crop up more often. The course is well structured and gives a good insight into the idea of how ES operates and the challenges that it faces. Plenty of support material to help for additional reading. One issue I faces was with respect to the peer graded reviews. I feel that the information that the assignment asks for is worded in a different way from what is expected (as can be seen from the rubric system that is revealed later)

By Stefan B

May 3, 2020

A strong course, may be not for absolute beginners, but for interested generalists with some understanding about conservation, ecosystem services climate change or related fields, or medium advanced specialists a comprehensive immersion in the ES world. Lots of accompanying material which is made available allows for deepening of course subjects and makes definitely appetite for more .

A great thank you to the instructors, they are passionate specialists in their field, who managed to achieve the most difficult for specialists - to explain their subject matter attractively, clearly, and relatively simple, without lowering academic standards.

By Paddy H

Jul 15, 2020

This is the best course I have completed so far on Coursera. The course is pitched at a level which is challenging and engaging, unlike some others which can be very basic. It has a range of engaging speakers, and the diversity of the case studies used to illustrate the teachings of the course is superb. The part of the course that I enjoyed most was that it is not simply an introduction to a topic, but a critical, academic discussion on the progress, merits and potential future of a divisive and intriguing concept. Well done to all involved in creating this MOOC and I will certainly use courses from this provider again!

By Emma B

Jun 8, 2020

very thorough. Good definitions of ecosystem services (ES) and related concepts. Looked at Case Studies also. Critical review of the strengths and weaknesses throughout by a variety of experts - from environmental scientists to economists to philosophers to policy-makers. Also explains how to model ES and the final week, week 6, even talks you through how to create your own ES using state-of-the-art software!!! Could not recommend enough. Only non-positive thing is conversion of existence->value->monetary value actual mechanisms could have been explored a little more (although the concepts are extensively discussed).

By Keshav a K B

Dec 7, 2020

finally the right time for me to take the course 4 years post-production... as some say this COVID pandemic is one of Nature's way of rebalancing itself in relation to us humans

thank you for a very good offering, with very refreshing, very relevant, very resonating honesties* that are familiar in the academic world... as i search for a job/career in environmental protection

*including challenges in bridging honesty/academia/objective science in non-isolated, real world

my course notes on my google drive link: (

By Ambra B S

Jul 23, 2020

I found this course very interesting and well structured. Professors were clear, quizzes were coherent . It helped me in understanding the framework which I work in. It looks like ESS approach is mainstreaming within myself! Anyway, I have experienced reviewing issues from colleagues who clearly did not read the small papers and rate lowest point (I don't understand the kind of competition). What I do understand is that the Professors and the Admin cannot do anything about that, so I just hope other colleagues will be more serious and fair players.

By Cecilia R

Oct 26, 2017

Outstanding MOOC. I gain a lot of new idea, concepts, learned approaches and practical discssions takig place nowadays. I have a mch cleared ideas of how I can contribute to mainstreaming natural capital, ecosystem services making justice to nature, human beeing and keeping in consideration diverse stakeholders needs and ways of thinking. I would do it again and again.

Loved the settings of each smal modules. And I had fun as well! Lerning has been fun and engaging. Well done team!

By Siti N

Feb 8, 2021

The ES approach should be developed with well planned scenario, sophisticated data, yet simple presentation to gain easy understanding from important stakeholders in decision making process anywhere in this world. I have gained best critical thinking experience through this course and confidently going forward on this effort of mainstreaming ES. Thank you very much for all lecturers, panelists and practitioners in this course for sharing knowledge, experience and enlighting thoughts.

By Willow S

Apr 15, 2018

Excellent course, very interesting but also in depth and thorough

Introduces not only the methods of Ecosystem Services but also the debate around the use of ecosystem services and how valuable they are and can be to improving the relationship between people and the environment.

The professors are also excellent and engaging; it is a very well-thought out course and I can only recommend it to anyone who is interested in environmental protection or in environmental policy.

By Eduardo S

Jun 22, 2020

Es un curso muy importante para la correcta toma de decisiones que afectarán a las generaciones futuras. Brinda un enfoque muy novedoso para evaluar todos los beneficios y los efectos negativos que puede generar un proyecto particular. Lo recomiendo ampliamente para profesionales de las políticas públicas, economistas y personal dedicado a las ciencias sociales ya que estos juegan un papel muy importante en los cambios de paradigma que se tienen que dar en el siglo XXI

By Brice M

Nov 6, 2019

Great course to dive into this new concept at the cross border of Economics, Conservation and Policy Making. The course is well balanced, starting with more theoretical concepts, then addressing the criticism heard from professionals of the sector, and then reflecting upon the next steps.

Only regret is the impossibility to download all slides (presentations material from all courses) in one package so that you can follow the course by annotating those slides.

By Bousquet

Feb 23, 2021

Really interesting topic well covered with multiple videos and interviews. What is interesting apart from the concept of ecosystem service itself is that the course does not avoid complicated questions on benefits and risks of using such a valuation method for nature. Many point of view are offered and it is finally very difficult to position ourselves. The logic and the sequence of modules is clear and easy to follow. Thanks to the authors !

By Francy Z G B

Jan 2, 2019

Es un curso que recomiendo, se tiene el privilegio de aprender junto a expertos de cada área. Está diseñado de tal manera que cada aprendiz pueda decidir el enfoque que quiere tomar, con base en el debate y diferentes puntos de vista. Es un MOOC completo y muy interesante. Personalmente cumplió con mis expectativas y sembró en mi las ganas de continuar profundizando en el tema. Muchas gracias por ofrecer este curso.

By Ksenia R

Sep 5, 2022

It's a great course to understand the basics of ecosystem services! Well structured, mostly very clear explanations and lots of examples. My favourite aspect is the ethical/ philosophical discussions that add depth to the course. However, due to the ever-changig nature of the course content, some materials are already outdated, including the case studies, considering new political and social development.