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SOURCE The Sustainable Development Solutions Network
Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs delivers inaugural course; blending for-credit and open course learning via new 'Knowledge Cloud' technology from Silicon Valley-based EdCast, Inc.
NEW YORK, Sept. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) will offer free online courses on sustainable development starting this Fall to all of its 200 plus member institutions as part of its flagship education program, SDSN.edu. This unprecedented, multiple institution higher education effort stems from the work of Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The SDSN was set up at the request of UN Secretary-General to promote sustainable development and comprises a network of over 200 universities and policy think-tanks around the world.
The first of several offerings from the new global education portal [http://SDSNedu.org] will probe deeply into the global challenges of sustainable development. The inaugural course, The Age of Sustainable Development, taught by Sachs will be delivered with an advanced cloud-based technology from EdCast that is rich with social interaction and collaboration across multiple universities for both internal and external learners. Thirty-eight universities from around the world that form a Global Association of Masters in Development Practice will simultaneously offer this course as part of their core curricula through Fall 2014. The list of participating member institutions can be found on http://globalmdp.org. In addition, the course will be open to interested students worldwide. In its first instance, the course, which ran in January 2014, attracted nearly 50,000 students.
"Solving the world's greatest challenges in climate change, poverty, hunger, disease begins with a solid analytical foundation," said Sachs. "The launch of SDSN.edu, a free online education platform, will help advance the field of sustainable development in all regions of the world. Through connectivity and information technology we are making breakthroughs in higher education by connecting leading academics with students and the general public worldwide, in order to expand access to cutting-edge information, new research findings, and best practices. Free online education will tremendously democratize higher education and accelerate problem solving for sustainable development."
EdCast is a unique combination of the best of breed education platform technology and Silicon Valley expertise in the areas of social, mobile, e-commerce, and data-mining. EdCast CEO Karl Mehta, a serial entrepreneur who served in the first cadre of White House Innovation Fellows, saw the opportunity and need for technology that would allow institutions and learners to work collaboratively with affordable solutions built around the open source course platform of the OpenEdX consortium. Working closely with the OpenEdX consortium of Harvard, MIT and Stanford, Mehta's seasoned technology team created EdCast's Knowledge Cloud™ solution.
"We saw that institutions were constrained by legacy on-campus technologies and destination MOOC sites on the Web. The institutions, or multiple collaborations like SDSNedu.org, needed to have the power and flexibility of the Cloud and mobile-first development to personalize the experience to each individual to make online education effective," said Mehta, also a venture partner at Menlo Ventures in California.
In October, SDSNedu.org will offer the next course in Sustainability called "Climate Change Science and Negotiations" which will look at how countries can transition to a low carbon economy. In November, "Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities" will look at the human-induced environmental changes. In the lead up to 2015, as the international community led by the United Nations designs new Sustainable Development Goals, SDSN.edu will provide other massive open online courses covering topics as diverse as global public health, education, human rights, urbanization and others.
Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. The network promotes integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. The SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society.
EdCast is a personal learning network to enhance human ability to collaborate and learn across educational materials, instructors, students and employers. EdCast Knowledge Cloud™ powers online learning portals built on OpenEdX for world class institutions, enterprises, governments and non-profits to enable millions of students to collaborate with each other and learn. The team has track-record of building large-scale transformational technology and are passionate about the global impact of mobile and online education. EdCast is a Stanford StartX company backed by tier one venture capital firms. The company is based in Mountain View, CA with offices worldwide.
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