MOOC on Marine Litter

Important message: A new run of the succesful MOOC on Marine Litter will start on the 29th of April 2019. It will be available in more languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish), and consists of a Leadership Track and an Expert Track (available in English and Spanish). Please find here the relevant information on the MOOC on Marine Litter 2019.

In the past ten years, the concept of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has become a popular learning approach. It is a way of organizing online courses with unlimited and open access participation (free of charge). MOOCs have been organized on many subjects, including a variety of sustainability issues. A study published in the open access journal Sustainability pointed out that the majority of sustainability-related MOOCs originated in the USA and Europe. MOOCs encourage learner interaction, in the form of discussion forums and threads (Zhan et al., 2015).


In 2017, United Nations Environment (UNEP), in cooperation with the Open University of the Netherlands, will launch the 2nd MOOC on Marine Litter. This MOOC has been created in order to stimulate leadership and offers opportunities for actionable and change oriented learning related to marine litter within the framework of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter. The MOOC will be disseminated through the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES).

Marine litter is a global problem that affects every ocean of the world. Litter is an environmental, human health and socio-economic problem that is a symptom of a highly disposable society. With worldwide growth in the amount of solid litter thrown away every day and slow rates of degradation, the amount of litter present in the marine environment is increasing.

The MOOC on marine litter strives to teach students through action oriented learning how they can apply successful and inspiring activities to their own local context, regardless of their profession or location. The course will provide examples and case studies that will inspire leadership at all levels, thereby increasing awareness of and stimulating creative solutions to marine litter problems.

UNEP and the Open University of the Netherlands have created this MOOC in order to address public interest in capacity building and actionable learning on marine litter, as well as to make opportunities available to a wider audience, regardless of academic or professional background, or location.


Tracks & timing

The MOOC on Marine Litter offers two tracks:

  • Leadership Track: 10 hours of learning introducing the student to the basic characteristics and concepts of the marine litter issue and various strategies to prevent and reduce marine litter. This track consists of 2 blocks geared towards policymakers, managers and professionals who require an overview of the topic in order to integrate the concepts of the MOOC into their professions. Students are encouraged to complete this track whether or not they are an official leader.
  • Expert Track: 30 additional hours consisting of 6 blocks (of which the student will follow at least 4) and a final assignment for professionals and students who want to acquire more in-depth knowledge, insights and skills relating to prevention of marine litter. Students undertaking the Expert Track must also complete the Leadership Track for a total of 40 hours of instruction.

The MOOC will start May 22, 2017 with the Leadership Track taking place over a course of 2 weeks. Those students who wish to remain in the course will continue to the Expert Track, which will be completed by August (total of 8 weeks).


Course topics & certificate

Within the course there will be a series of lectures, case studies and videos, along with additional study materials. Lectures will be available through videos as well as online documents within an online interactive platform. This course will cover the following topics:

  • The environmental impact and societal relevance of marine litter problems;
  • Technical solutions, including alternatives and recycling;
  • The governance of marine litter;
  • Sources, processes, modelling and monitoring of marine litter;
  • Designing and selecting effective strategies for marine litter;
  • Awareness raising, education and outreach, and capacity building;
  • Implementation of policies, laws, and market-based instruments;
  • Skills to develop an action plan to reduce marine litter pollution.

A certificate of participation can be obtained by students after their completion of both the Leadership Track and the Expert Track. Students will also receive free access to all course materials on the 24 hour online Edcast platform.


Enroll for the MOOC on marine litter at

Download the leaflet: MOOC Marine Litter 2017_leaflet


Article referred to in this post:

Zhan, Z., Fong, P. S., Mei, H., Chang, X., Liang, T., & Ma, Z. (2015). Sustainability education in massive open online courses: A content analysis approach. Sustainability, 7(3), 2274-2300.


One response to “MOOC on Marine Litter

  1. Pingback: MOOC on Marine Litter 2019 | sustainable higher education·

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