Welcome to our open courses. Feel free to browse the list of courses below or search for topics using the search box.

Spatial Database Management

Credit: © Penn State University is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Course Description

A spatial database is the backbone of a successful organization or website that depends upon maintaining and using data pertinent to locations on Earth. In GEOG 868, Spatial Database Management, capabilities specific to Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are combined to teach students to create, maintain, and query spatial databases in both desktop and enterprise environments.

a white sculpture depicting a woman with African features in the shape of a sphinx

Credit: Kara Walker's "A Subtlety" by metacynic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Course Description

This module provides resources for teaching about the artistic practice of Kara E. Walker and its interrogation of whiteness and race. Materials also support teaching an overview of the history of the production, consumption, and meanings of sugar, particularly as that history has contributed to the Transatlantic slave trade and continues to depend upon coercive labor practices in the U.S. and globally.

Sustainability and Non-Market Enterprise

Credit: White Windmill by fxxu is licensed under CC0

Course Description

The primary goal of this course is to provide a toolset for characterizing and strategizing how non-market forces can shape current and future renewable energy markets. The course approaches the exploration and explanation of key concepts in renewable energy and sustainability non-market strategies through evidence-based examples. Main topics for the course include: a sociological approach to markets, renewable energy markets, non-market conditions, complex systems analysis, and renewable energy technology and business environments.

Credit: Light Hands Bulb Bright 911919 by Ruben Rubio licensed under CC0

Course Description

Are you prepared to find strategic opportunities for sustainability-driven innovation within your business or organization? This engaging course will prepare you to do just that. BA 850 will give you the tools and practical experience needed to discern consumer and organizational needs related to sustainability, to create unique offerings to meet sustainability needs, and to develop innovative processes necessary to test and refine sustainable solutions.

Course Description

EME 807 overviews a wide range of contemporary technologies in the context of sustainability and examines metrics for their assessment. The course explores the main principles that guide modern science and technology towards sustainable solutions. It covers such topics as resource management technologies, waste and wastewater treatment, renewable energy technologies, high performance buildings and transportation systems, application of informatics and feedback to sustainable systems, and more.

Course Description

The Nature of Geographic Information is an orientation to the properties of geographic data and the practice of distance learning. The purpose of this course is to promote an understanding of the Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T) enterprise. GIS&T is the intersection of professions, institutions, and technologies that produce geographic data and render information from it. It is a rapidly growing and evolving field. Learning is a way of life for all GIS&T professionals.

Unmanned Aerial Systems

Credit: Photo by JESHOOTS.COM is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Unmanned Aerial Systems, or drones, are developing aggressively, and many government and non-government agencies are considering acquiring such systems. This course will focus on the geo-spatial utilization of a UAS. It will cultivate students' knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the UAS and data post-processing systems. It introduces fundamental concepts surrounding operating a UAS such as strategies for selecting the right UAS, assessing its performance, managing resulting products (i.e.

Course Description

EME 812 explores the main physical principles of core solar energy conversion systems, including direct power conversion photovoltaics, concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), and thermal conversion to electricity via concentrating solar power strategies (CSP). It also covers the fundamentals of enabling technologies such as light concentration, solar tracking, power conversion cycles, power conditioning and distribution.

Utility Solar Thermal and Industrial Solar Processes

Credit: Photovoltaic Panels by U.S. Department of Energy is public domain

Course Description

Solar thermal energy is a vast renewable energy resource that has been harvested by human civilizations for centuries. Now as energy conversion technologies quickly develop, we look at solar thermal energy as a significant contributor to the future world's energy profile. Solar heat, when properly collected and stored, can provide cost-effective benefits to a wide array of industrial and residential applications.

Course Description

We refer to Earth as the "Blue Planet" because of its abundance of liquid water; indeed, NASA's search for life on other planets starts with the search for water. While its importance for sustaining life is perhaps common knowledge, the extent to which we depend on water in every aspect of our everyday lives and activities is less obvious. Looking into the coming decades, the global need to decrease water stress and increase water quality is inescapable.


Course Spotlight

pile of maps

Cartography and Visualization (GEOG 486) covers design principles and techniques for creating maps with contemporary mapping tools. Students will be introduced to future-focused application topics such as augmented and virtual reality, mapping with multivariate glyphs, the visual depiction of uncertainty, interactive geovisualization, and (geo)visual analytics, and decision-making with maps and mapping products. Visit the course.

Faculty Spotlight

Maria Wherley

Maria Scalzi Wherley (she, her) is a Learning Designer and Writer-in-Residence with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience. Learn more about Maria to see what she has to say about online education.