Explore opportunities for collaboration between social entrepreneurs and conservation organizations to promote environmental sustainability and social impact
Discover mindsets and methodologies for tackling environmental challenges, including systems thinking, circular design, behavior change, and natural capital
Understand how to design products and services that contribute to a circular economy, and how to change behavior to conserve biodiversity
Make the case for investing in environmental conservation with lessons from the natural capital movement
This course was designed for social innovators who want to develop entrepreneurial solutions for environmental conservation and poverty reduction. The course will explore challenges like deforestation, overfishing, waste management, and agriculture, where the environment and livelihoods are sometimes at odds.
This is a hands-on, project-based course that consists of weekly readings, videos, and workshops. In the first week of the course, you will select an environmental challenge to research. In each workshop, you will apply the concepts you learned in the reading to propose solutions to the environmental challenge.
The course features insights from Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy; Vien Truong, CEO of Green for All; and Michael Kobori, Vice President of Sustainability for Levi Strauss & Co. It also shares case studies from social entrepreneurs and conservation organizations around the world.
Format and Timing:
Team-Based Course: We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you take the course with a team of 2-8 people. We recommend working with friends or colleagues in person.
Platform: NovoEd (+Acumen developed the course. We host the course on the NovoEd platform.)
Timing: This course will be open for 6 weeks. You can work through the materials at your own pace while the course is open. There are suggested weekly deadlines to help you stay on track. The only firm deadline is the final day of the course.
5 reading guides
5 workshop guides to structure your own project
12 videos featuring Mark Tercek of the Nature Conservancy, Michael Kobori of Levi Strauss and Co, Vien Truong of Green for All
Module 1: The Relationship Between Poverty and the Environment
Reading: Understanding the Challenges of Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss
Reading: The Relationship Between Poverty and the Environment
Reading: Collaborating to Tackle Environmental Challenges
Reading: What You Will Learn in This Course
Video: Meet the Experts
Video: How are Poverty and the Environment Connected?
Workshop Activity: Choose a Conservation Challenge to Explore in the Course
Module 2: Systems Thinking
Reading: A Mindset for Solving Complex Problems
Reading: What is Systems Thinking?
Case Study: Transforming a Fishing Community In Mexico through Systems Thinking
Reading: Identify the Enablers and Inhibitors in Your System
Reading: Identify Upstream Causes and Downstream Effects
Reading: Build Feedback Loops
Example: Vicious and Virtuous Circles in Amazonian Ecuador
Reading: Find Leverage Points
Example: Finding a Leverage Point for Endangered Lions
Workshop Activity: Build a Feedback Loop and Find a Leverage Point
Module 3: Circular Economy
Reading: Limitations of the Linear Economy
Reading: What is the Circular Economy?
Reading: A Circular Flow of Resources
Example: Finding New Life for Temple Flowers
Reading: Circular Design Strategies in Social Enterprises
Example: Plastic Waste and Packaging for Recyclability
Example: Managing Electronic Waste in Developing Countries
Example: Circularity in Agriculture
Example: How Cotton Waste is Powering Rural Pakistan
Videos: Life Cycle Assessment at Levi Strauss & Co.
Workshop Activity: Find a Circular Design Opportunity
Module 4: Behavior Change for Environmental Conservation
Reading: Introduction to Behavioral Economics
Reading: The Challenge of Changing Behavior When Tackling Environmental Issues
Reading: Mapping the User Journey and Identifying Points of Friction
Reading: Strategies for Behavior Change
Example: When Incentives Don’t Go as Planned: Fishing in the Republic of Kiribati
Case Study: Facilitating Behavior Change in Complex Waste Management Systems in India
Example: Collecting Data and Building Pride in Mozambique’s Fisheries
Example: The Four As of Adoption: Changing Behavior in Agriculture
Videos: Changing Mindsets About Environmental Conservation
Workshop Activity: Apply a Behavior Change Strategy
Module 5: Natural Capital and Making the Business Case for Environmental Conservation
Reading: Understanding the Value of Nature
Example: The Natural Capital Project and Coastal Development in Belize
Reading: A Greener Economy For All
Reading: Making the Business Case for Environmental Conservation
Example: Accelerating and Investing in Restoration Enterprises
Video: Unexpected Partnerships: The Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace and McDonald's
Video: Making the Business Case at Levi Strauss & Co.
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.
Get Updates About Designing for Environmental Sustainability and Social Impact
MAVA Foundation is a family-led, Swiss-based philanthropic foundation with an exclusive focus on the conservation of biodiversity. Since 1994, MAVA has played a transformational role in driving forward innovative conservation across the Mediterranean, West Africa, the Alps and beyond through its sustainable economy programme. Supporting passionate leaders and entrepreneurs working across sectors to address environmental and social challenges together is a key component of MAVA vision for sustainability.