The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) launches its first professional certificate program in Environmental Management for Sustainability on the edX online education platform on February 15.

UMCES has been at the forefront of environmental stewardship for more than 90 years and is committed to developing the next generation of scientists, business leaders, policy-makers, natural resource managers, and educators to meet the unprecedented environmental and allied social challenges of the 21st century.

“Building on our renowned graduate environmental educational program and our long history in applying science to decision-making, we are proud to offer this immensely accessible online program to help others make an impact around the world,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Peter Goodwin. “UMCES is a leader in understanding how to use science for management and policy, and we’ve done it at this iconic location on the Chesapeake Bay for nearly 100 years.”

edX is an American massive open online course (MOOC) provider created by Harvard and MIT that offers high-quality online courses to learners around the world. It hosts online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide student body, including some courses at no charge.

“We want to magnify our impact globally with expertise we’ve developed for years in the Chesapeake using science to manage the Bay,” said lead instructor Bill Dennison, UMCES Vice President for Science Application. “Our goal is to help people all over the world affect positive change by communicating and using data more effectively. People from 50 countries have already signed up, and we anticipate reaching thousands of people around the world.”

The Professional Certificate focuses on Environmental Management for Sustainability, including advising policy-makers, business leaders, and other environmental stakeholders on issues related to environmental management and sustainability; how to use case-study analyses to develop effective recommendations for best-practice environmental policy; how to communicate scientific findings that are accessible and compelling to all target audiences; and how to develop comprehensive socio-environmental report cards that explain complicated systems in a format geared toward action.

The self-paced course is offered in five languages (English, Spanish, Filipino, Japanese and Hindi) and features seven-minute videos, knowledge checks readings, and activities. A professional certificate is available for verified learners, and all content is available for free.

The course is taught by science communication expert Bill Dennison, STEM education leader Ricky Arnold, and Vanessa Vargas-Nguyen and science integrators from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Integration and Application Network.

Bill Dennison, UMCES’ Vice President for Science Application, is a biologist with 40 years of experience in environmental research and science communication. In 2002, he founded the Integration and Application Network, a collection of Science Integrators and Science Communicators who partner with groups around the world to engage with diverse stakeholders to co-produce effective science communication products and environmental report cards.

Richard Arnold is UMCES’ Director of STEM Engagement. He received his BS from Frostburg State University and MS from the University of Maryland in Marine and Estuarine Environmental Science. A global educator, he has taught Science and Mathematics in five countries. In 2004, he was selected as a NASA Astronaut in 2004 and has completed two missions to the International Space Station.

Vanessa Vargas-Nguyen is a Science Integrator with UMCES’ Integration and Application Network of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Originally a molecular microbiologist and marine scientist from the Philippines, she is an emerging transdisciplinary scientist and practitioner, specializing in science communication, socio-environmental assessments and synthesis, and stakeholder analysis and engagement through co-production

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, our scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.