Climate Change Leadership – MOOC

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

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The almost 500 year old sephia colored map Carta Marina, made by Magnus Olaus 1539 in Venice, Italy

Carta Marina made by Magnus Olaus 1539 in Venice, Italy © Uppsala University.

What will you learn in this course?

In this course we will explore the emerging field of climate change leadership and you’ll get the chance to develop your own map of the changing landscape before us. The course will also investigate the leadership challenges associated with climate change in order to open up new arenas for action. In the words of the first visiting professor in climate change leadership, Doreen Stabinsky, this is very much: “a space to think and dream differently.”

In the course we seek to understand what makes climate change special as a leadership problem, and how we can overcome practical, political and personal barriers to change.

Over the next five weeks, we will explore the subject through lectures, articles and discussions. You will also get the chance to identify and discuss the climate change leadership challenges that you are facing in your own contexts – the communities, organisations, or businesses that you are involved with and care about.

The first two weeks of the course will explore climate change trends, assess the Paris Agreement, and discuss ways to bend the curves to a sustainable future. The following two weeks, we will explore how climate change is interconnected with a number of related challenges, discuss leadership, communication and different skills. In the final week, we will look at change processes at different levels, finish the leadership plan and wrap up the course.

We hope that this course will allow you start to build your own capacity as a climate change leader, and open up ways of dealing with climate change.


The structure of the course

Week 1: Putting climate change leadership into context: past and present
In the first week, we will take stock of the Paris Agreement, learn the basics about climate change impacts and explore the relationship between society and nature from a historical perspective.

Week 2: The road ahead: bending the curves to a sustainable future
In week 2, we will explore how we might bend the curves to a sustainable future. We will learn about climate justice, carbon budgets and the deliberate transformations that may allow us to avoid catastrophic climate change. You will also identify and discuss different climate change leadership challenges you’re facing in your own context.

Week 3: Complex challenges and possibilities for change
Week 3 discusses and investigates the question of whether climate change should be dealt with as a new type of challenge that in itself is more complex than previous societal and environmental problems or if it should be understood as a possibility to change relationships, communities and society.

Week 4: Leadership and communication in a climate change context
This week focus on leadership and communication. We will look at some starting points for leadership, learn about psychological barriers to change and ways to communicate. The week finishes with laying the ground work for your leadership plan.

Week 5: Strategies for change: where your work begins
In the final week of the course we will look at different strategies for change and change processes at different societal levels. Finally we will wrap up the course and share what we have done during our five weeks together, including finishing the leadership plan.


Learning outcomes and syllabus

Below you can read about the key themes that the course covers and what you will learn.

What topics will you cover? – Syllabus and content

  • The outcomes of the Paris Agreement and different climate targets; a historical view on humanity, nature and climate; climate change leadership in your own context.
  • Climate justice, carbon budgets, mitigation strategies, adaptation and the deliberate transformations; local climate change leadership.
  • Climate change as a set of complex challenges or possibilities for change; setting goals for a world we want to live in; transboundary water management, migration; what technology can and cannot do; and who’s responsible for climate change; systems thinking.
  • Perspectives on leadership, communication, narratives, skills and psychological barriers to change.
  • Strategies for change, action on climate change on a local, regional, national and international level and your own climate change leadership plan.

What will you achieve? – Learning outcomes
By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the nature of the complex problems resulting from interconnected social, political, and climate change issues, and the leadership challenges associated with these problems.
  • Identify your own role as a climate change leader, and ways to overcome personal or organizational barriers to change.
  • Apply climate change leadership tools in your own organizations or contexts.


Applying climate change leadership in your own context

Climate change leadership does not only happen in negotiation rooms at international conferences or at high stakes business meetings. In this course, we hope to uncover how we can all be climate change leaders in our own communities and organisations. A central component of the course is therefore to identify, discuss and work with our own climate change leadership challenges. We will start by identifying and sharing challenges in week 2, and then move on to create a plan in weeks 4 and 5.


The importance of active participation and discussion

Climate change and leadership are issues where there often is not only one single answer to the many questions asked. We firmly believe that we cannot understand the challenges related to climate change leadership by only learning facts about climate change and going through different theories about leadership. Rather, this course will be a better course if we all take part in creating a new understanding of climate change leadership together, where different experiences and ideas meet. We have therefore structured this course so that there is plenty of room for discussion and reflection.

Take part in the discussions throughout the course in the comment and discussion areas on Uppsala University’s studium page Climate Change Leadership (opens January 15, 2024), on Twitter @cclmooc, use the hashtag #cemuscclmooc and in the open Facebook group, and contribute with your thoughts, ideas, reflections and experiences.


© CEMUS and Uppsala University