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Syllabus for The Health Effects of Climate Change

Welcome to our course! Please read the syllabus carefully so that you can understand our policies before starting. There will be a quiz.

Course Overview

This course shows how greenhouse gas emissions can result in a wide range of health effects, and provides you with a framework to trace pathways from emissions to health outcomes that emphasizes populations at risk. The course finishes with a consideration of how different sectors of society are working to meet the health challenges of climate change. The course is organized as follows:

Health: The Human Face of Climate Change
Our introductory section. Learn why we're offering this course, find out how to complete edX assignments, and take the introductory survey.
Climate Science Mini-course
Those who are newly learning about climate change should go through this short section to
Heat & Air Quality
The most direct effects of climate change are in the temperature of our environment and the air we breathe. Learn what those effects are, how severe they can be, and strategies for mitigating the effects.
Infectious diseases have a complex relationship with temperature. Learn more from an in-depth examination of malaria.
More CO2 may mean larger plants, but it also means less nutrition. Find out why in this section.
Worsening conditions drive people from their homes. We'll tell you what the triggers are, as well as what the effects are.
Research Methods
How do we know all this? What are the data sources, and how can we evaluate them? This section is intended for budding researchers who want a place to start and an overview of the field.
Responses to climate change
Our wrap-up section. Learn what people are doing to improve our world, find out where you can learn more, and take the post-course survey.

Grading & Certification

This course has two types of assignments: graded and ungraded. Ungraded assignments are clearly marked and are worth 0 points. Graded assignments are worth a number of points as marked, typically 1 or 5. Most sections have a mix of graded and ungraded content.

Some of the ungraded questions in this course are polls or surveys, asking about your opinions and/or facts about your life. If you ever run into an ungraded question that you feel is too personal, or which you would rather not answer for any reason, you can always skip it with no penalty.

You will be able to see the answers to all questions after you have used up your attempts, or when you get the answer correct.

Passing the course, and certification

The passing grade for this course is 60%.

If you register for a Verified Certificate, and your score is 60% or above, you will receive a certificate in electronic form. They are not mailed to you. Instead, you can see them on your Progress page or in your user dashboard. The final day to sign up for a verified certificate is ten days before the end of the course. See the edX Certificate FAQ if you have more questions.

Guidelines For Collaboration

We encourage class participants to collaborate on assignments! But be sure you learn how to do the assignments yourself, and please do not post solutions to discussion forums until after the due date. Staff will proactively remove solutions posted before due dates.

  • It is OK to discuss or work jointly to develop a general approach to an assignment.
  • It is OK to get a hint from peers or course staff if you get stuck on an assignment.
  • You should work out the details of assignments yourself.
  • It is not OK to copy someone else's solution.
  • It is not OK to take someone else's formula and plug in your own numbers to get the answer.
  • It is not OK to post answers to a problem.
  • It is not OK to look at a full step-by-step solution for the purpose of submitting an answer.

Discussion Forums

We encourage you to use the course Discussion Forum! It has many uses, and we'll prompt you to participate throughout the course.

Some good uses of the Discussion Forum:

  • Asking questions about course content and assignments.
  • Collaborating appropriately on assignments.
  • Contacting course staff.
  • Starting discussions related to course content.
  • Commenting on course content, including giving the instructors feedback, disagreeing with us, or suggesting improvements.

Our discussion forum guidelines

  • Be polite and encouraging.
  • Work together and work independently.
  • Post hints rather than answers. If you're not sure where to draw the line, follow the collaboration guidelines.
  • You can and should discuss questions, consider possibilities, and ask for hints.
  • You should not request or give out answers, even answers that you know are wrong.
  • Use your vote. If you agree with what someone says, don't write a post. Just click the plus button!
  • Tag your posts. If there is an issue that absolutely needs staff attention, put the word [STAFF] in brackets in your subject line. Course staff will be in the forums every day, but it may take up to two days to get a response sometimes, especially around holidays.

Honor code statement

HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.

Nondiscrimination/anti-harassment statement

Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.

Research Statement

HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement to learn more.