MOOCs for Sustainable Development: SDSN and SDG Academy announce 2019 Awards of Excellence


In 2015, the 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious and universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that people everywhere enjoy peace and prosperity. The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which operates under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, was founded with this goal in mind, to mobilize the global academic community to develop practical solutions and put the best scientific knowledge in the hands of the decision-makers leading the way to a sustainable future.

The SDSN manages several projects aligned with its mission, among them the coordination of a vast array of networks supporting the SDGs at the local, national, and regional levels. The Networks Program works with the members of the SDSN, organizing them to collectively advance progress towards achieving our global goals. These networks pursue sustainable development innovation locally through research, degree programs, executive training, public education, demonstration projects, convening of social stakeholders and incubation of new companies.

The SDG Academy is the flagship online education initiative of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It aims to create and curate the best educational content on sustainable development, available free of cost for everyone, everywhere. The SDG Academy works with global experts from around the world on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to build courses and establish a widely accessible library of sustainable development knowledge. Courses are currently hosted on the premier online learning platform, edX, which hosts nearly 18 million learners.

2019 Awards: MOOCs for Sustainable Development

In 2019, the SDG Academy will award two institutions ‘Awards of Excellence’ in developing MOOCs for Sustainable Development. The courses will be selected among applicants from the wider SDSN’s academic community, with the first place institution provided the chance to host their course on the SDG Academy edX platform. Hosting of the course on SDGAcademyX will provide the winning institution exposure to a wide array of learners, spanning geographic boundaries, to convey knowledge to a truly global cohort of students. The SDG Academy will assist in the building, promotion, and facilitation of the course. Although hosted by the SDG Academy, the course may remain branded by the partner institution.

MOOC Requirements

To apply to have your course recognized with the SDSN Award of Excellence, please be mindful of the following requirements:

  • Courses must be lead by an academic lead faculty member (non-academic faculty can be in a supporting role)
  • Courses must have a strong link to sustainable development topics
  • Courses can be anywhere from 3-12 weeks in length
  • Courses should consist of 3-5 videos per module/week
  • An annotated outline must accompany the content
  • Learning objectives for each module must be provided
  • Assessments (ideally will include comprehension questions for each chapter, a mid-term, and final exam)
  • MOOC can run self-paced or instructor-paced in 2019
  • Course must be in one of the following languages: English, French, Spanish (English transcripts must be provided)*
  • If course is hosted on SDGAcademyX, it must be made available free of cost (any certificate fees goes towards hosting costs)
  • MOOC must be produced by a member institution of SDSN (if not a member, join here)

*Other languages may be considered in future years


  • Call for Proposals: April 25- June 15
  • Review of Applications: June 15-August 1
  • Announcement of winner: August 5
  • Launch of course: September or October 2019

Criteria for selection

  • MOOC tells a compelling story (introduces topic, discusses challenges/solutions, etc.)
  • MOOC provides both theoretical and practical perspectives
  • Faculty is clear and engaging for learners
  • Learning objectives are defined and achievable through online content
  • MOOC is visually-appealing and content-rich

How to submit and application

  • Please submit the follow materials to [email protected]
    • A one-page overview of the course
    • Syllabus for the course
    • Annotated outline of course chapters
    • Faculty descriptions
    • Learning objectives (by chapter or module)
    • Sample assessment
    • Links to course videos and materials (this can be through a hyperlinked syllabus, or a link provided directly to an institutions platform if all materials are accessible)

For questions, contact: [email protected]

The PDF version of this call can be downloaded for sharing.

Source: Sustainable Development Solutions Network


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