10 online classes for global development professionals

10 online classes for global development professionals

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on September 11, 2018.

September is back-to-school time in the United States. It feels like a time of new beginnings, a time to break out of your comfort zone. In honor of the season, I’ve put together a list of ten MOOCs (massive open online courses) related to global development. These classes can introduce you to new ideas and new perspectives on issues like public health, human rights, climate change, and more. Some are self-paced and some have start and end dates with deadlines to keep you on track. They are taught by top faculty from well-regarded universities and best of all, they’re completely free! (Certificates are available for purchase if you want to show off your accomplishment on LinkedIn or another online profile.) 

Why should experienced development professionals consider an online course? At every development-related conference I’ve attended, at least one presenter has spoken about the need to break down silos – that is, change how we address cross-cutting development issues and improve cooperation between sectors. Although this is a huge challenge, I believe that individuals can do their part by taking the time to learn about subjects outside their usual portfolio.

Of course, one online class won’t make you an expert, but it’s a good place to start – and it just might help you look at old problems in new ways. So sign up for one today! Happy learning!

  1. Data Analysis for Social Scientists from MIT. Starts today (September 11, 2018) on EdX.

  • According to the report Next Generation Professional from Devex, DAI, and USAID (available here), 38% of survey respondents identified “big data” as one of the most important technology areas for the development professionals of tomorrow. This course promises an introduction to interpreting data in order to make decisions about policy, projects, and more. I’ll actually be taking this one myself, so if you register, we’ll be classmates!

2. Lessons from Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic from Harvard. Self-paced on EdX.

  • What can we learn from the 2014 Ebola outbreak and what can we do to prevent future pandemics?

3. The Challenges of Global Poverty from MIT. Starts today (September 11, 2018) on EdX.

  • Taught by economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, this course addresses the use of randomized controlled trails (RCTs) to question assumptions about development and what really works. The professors’ book “Poor Economics” is the textbook for the course, which is one more excellent reason to sign up.

4. Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster from Harvard. Self-paced on EdX.

  • Use case studies to learn the basic principles and challenges of responding to humanitarian crises. 

5. Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector from the University of Virginia. Starts today (September 11, 2018) on Coursera.

  • Learn the basics of design thinking and how you can use this human-centered problem-solving approach in your own work.

6. Human Rights: The Rights of Refugees from Amnesty International. Self-paced on EdX.

  • According to the International Rescue Committee, there are more refugees today than at any time since World War II. Learn about the rights of refugees and how you can be an advocate for them. This course is also available in Spanish and French - learn something new and practice your foreign language skills at the same time!

7. Global Postharvest Loss Prevention: Fundamentals, Technologies, and Actors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Starts today (September 11, 2018) from Coursera.

  • Did you know that each year, one third of food produced is lost or wasted? In developing countries, this is more likely to take the form of postharvest losses. If you’re interested in food security and wondering how we’re going to feed nine billion people by 2050, this class is for you. 

8. Planetary Boundaries from SDG Academy. Self-paced on EdX.

  • Are we exceeding the limits of Earth’s resources? What can we do to stay within them and grow sustainably?   

9. Childbirth: A Global Perspective from Emory University. Starts October 29, 2018 on Coursera.

  • This course provides an overview of issues in maternal and newborn health in developing countries. 

10. Introduction to Land Management from Technische Universität München (TUM). Self-paced on EdX.

  • Learn how land tenure and land use is connected to economic development and sustainability. 

About the author: Caitlin Jones is a Spanish-to-English translator specializing in global development, humanitarian work, and social change. She lives in Rochester, Minnesota. Learn more at www.englishbycaitlin.com.