University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sustainability Consulting

Taught in English


Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Dr. Jonathan Tomkin

Instructor: Dr. Jonathan Tomkin

Beginner level
No prior experience required
5 hours to complete
3 weeks at 1 hour a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

What you'll learn

  • How to apply life-cycle thinking to a product or process supply chain.

  • Analyze Life Cycle Analysis reports produced by others.

  • How to critically evaluate sustainability certifications

Details to know

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June 2024


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There are 6 modules in this course

You will become familiar with the course, your classmates, and our learning environment. The orientation will also help you obtain the technical skills required for the course.

What's included

1 reading1 discussion prompt

This week we’ll be introducing the field of sustainability consulting and the key idea of life cycle thinking. A sustainability consultant works with organizations to help them improve their sustainability performance, or to certify that performance. This might mean making sustainability assessments –strategic planning, implementation of sustainability programs, or reporting on sustainability performance. These workers make these judgments using life cycle analysis to make quantitative, replicable determinations of environmental impact. All sustainability consultants either explicitly or implicitly use this technique in their work, and we’ll start the course by learning about this approach.  

What's included

6 videos1 reading1 quiz

This week we will be continuing our discussion of life-cycle assessment. This will enable us to see how consultants interpret LCA results: by identifying the significant inventory and impact results, evaluating the reliability and conditions of those results, and finally by stating their conclusions and recommendations. We’ll also begin to look at case studies - starting with Christmas trees!

What's included

5 videos1 reading1 quiz

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) refers to a set of criteria used to assess the sustainability and ethical impact of investments or business practices. ESG has become an increasingly important concept in recent years as more regulators, investors and customers have become more concerned about measuring the wider impacts of corporations. But the way ESG is rated is not without controversy - and nor are the ways in which companies improve their ESG scores. This week we will apply our life cycle thinking to understand what lots of consultants do, and why it might not always be making the world more sustainable.

What's included

5 videos1 reading1 quiz

For many companies, sustainability certifications are a large part of the value in hiring the services of sustainability consultants. They provide a mark of approval that can help them send the right message to their various stakeholders - be they customers, employees, regulators, or even their peers. These certifications possibly even make the world more sustainable. Good consultants rigorously assess the companies they work with, and as we’ll see this week, their is a wide variety of settings in which these assessments take place. Sometimes sustainability workers even help companies from within.

What's included

4 videos1 reading1 quiz

You will find out where to go next after completing this course and be able to share any thoughts you have on this course experience.

What's included

1 video1 reading


Dr. Jonathan Tomkin
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2 Courses153,528 learners

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Recommended if you're interested in Environmental Science and Sustainability

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