To support our site, Class Central may be compensated by some course providers.

Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities

SDG Academy

students interested

Taken this course? Share your experience with other students. Write review


Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities: The Quest for Safe and Just Development on a Resilient Planet helps students to explore and apply a range of emerging concepts within sustainability science. These concepts include: the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries, the social-ecological systems approach and resilience thinking. Such concepts are at the core of contemporary research and debates in the arena of global sustainability.

They are key to frame and understand rapidly changing trends in global environmental change caused by humans, and to assess responses that aim at addressing the consequences and impacts of these changes. They are also helpful in exploring pathways for ensuring safe and just human development for present and future generations.

A thriving global society, now and in the future, depends on the stable functioning of all interacting components of the Earth System – including; the atmosphere, oceans, forests, waterways, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles. Unfortunately, scientific evidence indicates that human influence has altered Earth System processes to a point that we have begun transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years.

Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, potentially propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. In this new situation, unsustainable patterns of production, consumption, and population growth are challenging the resilience of the planet to support human activity. The fundamental question is how our societies can develop in a just and safe way within the planet’s boundaries. 

This course aims at expanding and updating participant’s ‘conceptual toolbox’ in matters of global sustainability. Upon successful completion, a participant will be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of key concepts on global environmental change and their theoretical underpinning, as well as an up-to-date understanding of current debates in the global sustainability arena and emerging examples of approaches and solutions currently being developed.

Throughout the course, Professor Rockström and along with colleagues from the Stockholm Resilience Centre will hold live hangouts to answer your questions about the course and sustainable development issues, in addition to discussion forums where you can engage with fellow students and course staff. The course is also rich in activities that will illustrate the application of these concepts, connecting global and local contexts. 

The success of the course depends on an active student base representing a diversity of experiences, cultures, and perspectives, so add your voice to the global discussion by registering today.


Week 1 - Introduction and the Big Picture

The big picture


Week 2 - Welcome to the Anthropocene

The Holocene and the Anthropocene
Visions of the Anthropocene


Week 3 - Social-ecological systems and Resilience thinking

Social-ecological resilience
Understanding complexity in a turbulent world


Week 4 - Planetary Boundaries Framework – Part 1

A new framework for human development
The big three boundaries: processes with global scale tipping points


Week 5 - Planetary Boundaries Framework – Part 2

The four slow boundaries
Human-made planetary boundaries processes


Week 6 - Planetary Boundaries and Global Equity

Natural resources and interactions between boundaries
A safe and just operating space for humanity


Week 7 - Moving towards Global Sustainability within Biophysical and Social Boundaries

Global governance
Promising pathways to success


Week 8 - Conclusion

Science in the Anthropocene and the Sustainable Development Goals


Taught by

Lisa Deutsch and Johan Rockström

Class Central Charts

Reviews for Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities
5.0 Based on 5 reviews

  • 5 stars 100%
  • 4 star 0%
  • 3 star 0%
  • 2 star 0%
  • 1 star 0%

Did you take this course? Share your experience with other students.

Write a review
  • 1
Kier P
5.0 3 years ago
by Kier completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
The course has simply made a difference in my perspective about the world. It taught a lot of learning I haven't learned in school. If one really is apathetic about what is happening around, then this course will really help! It truly opened my mind to see what humans must see and it puts me in a position where I feel responsible of my own actions. Great course! Everyone should try it.
3 people found
this review helpful
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Martin F
5.0 6 months ago
by Martin completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
A real gem! This should be a required course for any human being! It explains the state of the earth in a comprehensive and understandable manner and presents a real holistic view of what it means to live in this planet!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Gy N
5.0 6 months ago
by Gy completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
A very good course for those who want to know the problems in Anthropocene. The lectures provide a new aspect to look into the problems. The concept of planetary boundary is clearly illustrated in the course.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 3 years ago
by D completed this course.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Tim T
5.0 a year ago
Tim completed this course.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

Class Central

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Sign up for free

Never stop learning Never Stop Learning!

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.