A free online course featuring global leaders in marine and animal research is being offered internationally to people wanting to explore the ecology and conservation of underwater life.
The four-week short course, ‘Life Below Water: Conservation, Current Issues and Possible Solutions’, has been developed by the University of the Sunshine Coast through FutureLearn, a global social learning platform that delivers online study from the world’s leading universities.
USC is currently ranked 3rd of about 400 institutions worldwide for its global impact for research, stewardship, outreach and teaching in the ‘Life Below Water’ category of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings of universities.
Throughout the course, USC experts will guide participants as they take a deep dive into learning about earth’s underwater ecosystems.
Presenters include Associate Professor Kathy Townsend, who leads global research into sea turtles, manta rays and the impacts of plastic ingestion in marine life, and Dr Christofer Clemente, who specialises in the relationship between form, function and ecology of living and extinct animals.
“Across just three hours each week of interactive, self-directed study, anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection can learn about the form, function and evolution of aquatic animals, with a focus on how they have adapted to survive,” Dr Townsend said.
“Participants can develop knowledge and research skills in marine conservation and new understanding of the threats to underwater flora and fauna, such as climate change, plastic pollution and shrinking biodiversity.
“They are introduced to the impacts that humans are having on our precious marine ecosystems and the creatures that depend on them, which can provide greater insights into ways to ensure their protection.”
In the final week of the course, the focus will turn to new developments and solutions to human impacts, including research by USC academics who are at the forefront of global research and international collaborations into aquatic and terrestrial systems.
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Bartlett said the online course was an exciting opportunity to share USC’s outstanding work in promoting sustainable development on a global level.
“This course is designed to provide an international audience with new knowledge and greater understanding of how the world’s exceptional biodiversity within underwater ecosystems and habitats has been negatively affected by human interaction,” she said.
“Importantly, they can also gain insights into how to measure and minimise human impact on marine life.”
To join the course, go to www.futurelearn.com/courses/life-below-water-biodiversity-ecology-human-impacts-and-solutions
A second short course covering ‘Life On Land’ will be offered later this year, drawing on USC’s expertise in this field. USC currently ranks 5th in the world for its research and teaching impact in the ‘Life On Land’ category of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.
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