Sustainability practitioners: Do you continue to learn?

  • Published: 25 July 2018
  • Author: Karen Pong

Sustainability encompasses climate change, circular economy, human rights, disaster preparedness, green financing, employee engagement, transparency, and impact assessment of community projects – the list can go on and on. As a sustainability practitioner, an internal champion for sustainable and responsible practices in your organization, or even just as an individual interested in sustainable development, you may want to know how to stay on top of a sea of complex sustainability issues. Read on to see what continued learning opportunities and resources are made available for different types of learners.

1. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

Forget about the classrooms and take a deep dive into the new mode of learning – you will be pleasantly surprised how many resources are at your fingertip, and often for free. Ranging from industry leaders Coursera and Udemy to organizations that focus on development such as +Acumen and postgraduate schools, MOOC platforms offer numerous and diverse sustainability-related short and certificate courses in collaboration with education institutions. As many courses are self-paced, a good amount of self-discipline or some diligent study buddies would be the way to go. Another advantage of these online platforms is that they also offer courses from more than a hundred disciplines and topics beyond sustainability. I took the infographic design certificate course from Coursera, for instance, and found it very useful for gaining insights into presentation of data in sustainability reporting.

If you wanted to learn about specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this list of available MOOC for each SDG developed by Human Rights Careers would be a fantastic reference.

Some interesting MOOC courses include:

edX with University of Queensland

edX with ETH Zurich

  • Smart Cities – Learn how data and information impact the design, sustainability and resilience of future cities.


  • Systems Practice – Learn to use a system thinking approach to move from “impossible” to impact.

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Harvard Extension School

2. Masters Program in Sustainability (on-campus and online)

Pursuing a master degree is a big commitment. It is wise to compare different options and look for reviews on platforms such as the Study Portal. Some foundations, universities and Ministries of Foreign Affairs or equivalent offer scholarships to postgraduate students for courses on sustainable development, environmental resources management and development studies. Check out this impressive list of scholarships and courses with scholarships developed by the Scholarships 4 Development for details.

Masters programs related to sustainable development in Hong Kong (non-exhaustive):

Chinese University of Hong Kong

City University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong Baptist University

The Education University of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  • Master of Science in Sustainable Urban Development

The University of Hong Kong

Some overseas universities have started to offer full or partly online masters programs for working professionals. For instance, the University of Edinburgh now offers both online and on-campus options for their Master of Science in Carbon Management programme.

Disclaimer: CSR Asia is not associated with any of the external online learning platforms or education institutions mentioned. We do not guarantee the quality of these courses.

3. TED Talks and Podcasts

Continued learning does not always have to be resource-intensive. Recent years see an upsurge in high-quality sustainability related YouTube videos and Podcasts.

If you do not have time for the videos, tune in to these informative podcasts on your mobile device when you commute or enjoy your coffee in the morning. Simply search a sustainability keyword on where you get your podcast and you may see.

Below are a couple of sustainability podcasts that Team CSR Asia likes. Both are available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast (newly launched in June 2018) or Spotify apart from the official website, which provides subscribers with the transcripts.

Eight Million

“Learn how eight million metric tonnes of plastic are entering our ocean every year and the potential solutions coming out of China. A five-part audio documentary that takes you through the ins and outs of plastic waste treatment globally and in China. It’s an illuminating look at how the Middle Kingdom is closing its doors on imported plastic waste, and turning its back on industrial pollution in favor of building an ‘ecological civilization.’”

Social entrepreneur

Hosted by Tony Loyd, a former Fortune 500 executive, weekly series is tailored to early-stage and aspiring social entrepreneurs. Interviews with founders, investors and thought leaders always end with a call to action.

4. CSR Asia Summit and the Pre-Summit training sessions

Lastly, our annual flagship conference CSR Asia Summit also proves to be an effective knowledge exchange platform for practitioners across different sectors. For the 12th year running, the CSR Asia Summit will bring together key stakeholders to share knowledge and best practice at Asia’s signature sustainability conference. Known for being one of the largest and most thought-provoking conferences focusing on sustainability issues in Asia, this year’s event will be based around the theme of transparency, integrity and impact – the foundations of high performing, responsible organizations.

Prior to the Summit, six sessions of half-day Pre-Summit Training sessions will be organized on 17 September 2018:

  • 09:00 – 12:00: Training 1: Building and Implementing a Sustainability Strategy
  • 09:00 – 12:00: Training 2: Introduction into Responsible Sourcing and Risk Assessment/Segmentation
  • 09:00 – 12:00: Training 3: : Crisis Preparedness for CSR & Communications Professionals in the Age of Social Media
  • 13:30 – 16:30: Training 4: Aligning Business Strategy with the SDGs
  • 13:30 – 16:30: Training 5: The Role of Worker Engagement and Grievance Mechanisms
  • 13:30 – 16:30: Training 6: Community Investment and Impact Measurement

Click here to register or contact [email protected] for more details.

We wish everyone a fruitful learning journey and look forward to welcoming you at our Summit on 18-19 September 2018 in Hong Kong.