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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Introduction to Sustainability by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2,440 ratings

About the Course

This course introduces the academic approach of Sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations. The course focuses on key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history. This subject is of vital importance, seeking as it does to uncover the principles of the long-term welfare of all the peoples of the planet. As sustainability is a cross-disciplinary field of study, this foundation requires intellectual breadth: as I describe it in the class text, understanding our motivations requires the humanities, measuring the challenges of sustainability requires knowledge of the sciences (both natural and social), and building solutions requires technical insight into systems (such as provided by engineering, planning, and management)....

Top reviews


Dec 18, 2016

It is a well prepared course. Contents are carefully organized and plenty of concepts and examples are included and analyzed. Overall, it is a excellent course to get an overview of sustainability.


Sep 23, 2020

This course helps me to learn many things about sustainability. By this course, I am more interested in sustainable developments. I expect to learn more about this provided by Dr Johnathan Tomkin.

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By Stefanie S

Jan 22, 2021

A terrific course for someone brand new to the topic of Sustainability. It give me broad strokes understanding and a very good foundation as I move forward in my learning. I have already heard terms and policies mentioned in the news or magazines. I would not have recognized them previously. Now they jumped out at me!

For a recommendation to Coursera, I recommend an updated edition. The course is nearly 10 years old and therefore some of the material is outdated. When it comes to population study it really needs to be accurate to ensure the facts/projections are still accurate. For example one of the quiz questions ask what the current population is rounded off to a round billion. In 2013 it was 7B (correct response) but now it is 8B so on my first take I got it wrong and then had to retake and update my answer to the past.

Thank you Coursera! I am already off and running on two additional courses. I am creating my very own home university curriculum.

By Rohan M

Jul 14, 2020

I actually wanted to give 4.5 stars but sadly Coursera's review system doesn't allow that. The course content is pretty comprehensive and gives you more than a fair idea about all the concepts related to sustainability. It is by no means a cakewalk to complete this course. I'd like to deliver my thanks to Dr. Jonathan Tomkin who explained all the topics in a succinct way and has obviously put in a lot of hard work into designing the course content and structure. However, I'd like to see the data being updated in this course as most of it dates back to 2010 and also include the COVID-19 pandemic to better explain the concept of sustainability in the modern world. 10/10 recommended.

By Daniel G

Mar 27, 2017

Really great introduction to the principles of sustainability. A lot of reading was required, more than I expected out of an online course being taken for pleasure, but that being said I enjoyed the content and learning about this topic. Videos combined with the reading made everything very straightforward and easy to understand. My only critique was that some of the test questions were worded in a confusing way and/or didn't provide an explanation as to why one answer was correct vs another, however I understand the challenges of not simply providing the answers to questions given the course format.

By Simon

May 17, 2020

I found this a very interesting course and it covered a lot more than I expected. On the other hand week 4 about alternative energy is showing its age. Renewables have improved a lot more than the predictions in this course, and have in some cases proven to be viable at this point. I would recommend updating the course, or at least writing clearly that this is dated information. As in these difficult time we need thorough and up to date information to make the right decisions.

If it was updated it would get 5 out of 5 now i would give it 3.5 if i could.

By Amitava D

Sep 26, 2020

The course is made in such a manner by observing the videos everything got clear to me.

The graphics are also very nice.

I completed the course but I found some questions are very confusing like 1. Whether Malthusian catastrophe never happened or related questions though I understood the chapter but questions were so confusing? 2. What is the Tragedy in Tragedy of Commons? 3. Peak that

Thanks for organizing this course . Please let me know any next level course on this subject like advance Sustainability etc.

By Sophie D

Aug 27, 2020

This course was excellent at opening my eyes to sustainability. I learned a lot and I am inspired to continue my passion for sustainability in college because of this course. My main drawback is that the material is largely from 2012, which is pretty outdated. Many of the key concepts hold true but some aspects like oil extraction rates are not consistent with what the course would indicate. Overall I am very happy I enrolled and I highly recommend the course!

By Ruy Q

May 26, 2020

The course presents a holistic overview of the pressing environmental conditions the entire planet experiences and utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach in addressing these concerns. This is ideal for learners of all nationalities as examples are not grounded in one particular country or culture. My only suggestion is to present more relevant data and to improve the engaging qualities of the video lectures.

By Parshva J

Jun 5, 2020

Overall a brilliant learning opportunity for people passionate to udnerstand where the world is currently and where it will be when it comes to sustainability. Not your average easy course, the course is really hard to pass. Moreover, it is 8 weeks long and involves the use of complicated terms and languages. Make sure you are ready to invest atleast 15 hours a week into the course to see fruitful results.

By Rachel F

Jun 3, 2020

An interesting course with engaging lectures and quiz questions. A broad overview of many aspects of sustainability which have given me a good basis from which to discuss issues and learn from. Peer review assignments can be hit or miss depending on who reviews your work - some put in much more effort than others. Overall, a manageable workload, low-pressure and interesting course.

By Danielle R

Jun 20, 2020

Comprehensive background on population growth, resource usage, energy consumption, climate, environmental policy. This was a much more comprehensive overview than I had expected so I learned a lot. Definitely a good place to start if you're interested in sustainability. Though the population growth chapter wasn't as interesting to me, it is an important aspect of sustainability.

By Hope S

Nov 6, 2021

This course introduces some basic concepts to understanding human sustainability and touches briefly on ecosystem and non-human population or biodiversity sustainability. The course was recorded in 2012 and, now that it's nearly 2022, needs to be updated with the latest scientific research, discoveries and conclusions. I would urge U IL to update this valuable course!

By Maneksha D

Jul 13, 2020

This course was interesting and useful. I wish we could have seen more examples of sustainability programs and policies that are working in various parts of the world. I love the notion of completing the assessments until you have mastery. The rubric for written work was very basic and allowed for some students with subpar assignments to get full 4 out of 4 points.

By Yohara R

Nov 25, 2020

Wonderful course. The one thing I wished was different is the course name. The quizzes are pretty hard and the assignments are pretty focused on the application of knowledge as well. So I personally think the word "Introduction" in the course name undermines its contents and therefore knowledge gained by the person doing it. Otherwise, it is a great course.

By luisa v

Jul 3, 2020

This course is really good. You can learn a lot with the informations and etc. However, the activities are kinda hard for me... I have to do the same one a lot of times to finally be approved. But my first language is not english and I am "young", so it can be just for me. As I said before, I think its a great course and you´ll probably like it!