Penn State, Coursera reprise geodesign MOOC

July 01, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- Penn State and Coursera are again offering the free online course "Geodesign: Change Your World." This massive open online course (MOOC) is now open for registration at and will run for five weeks, starting July 8.

The course, which empowers people to work together to make changes in their neighborhood, community, town, city or region, has had a broad impact. More than 17,000 students and professionals from 166 countries took part in last year’s course.

Designing land-based projects that are sustainable can be challenging with the numerous issues involved, including rising land costs, conservation factors and energy concerns. A key goal of this course – taught by Penn State geodesign and landscape architecture professor Kelleann Foster – is to expose a broad group of participants to the exciting possibilities inherent in geodesign, a process has evolved over nearly 40 years and now combines the core concepts of design thinking with the latest in geo-spatial technologies.

“Geodesign is a collaborative process that brings together design-thinking with science, to help communities move forward with their change initiatives,” said Foster. “The program is rooted in a framework that has been used for decades. That process, coupled with enhanced technologies, provides students with a solid basis for how to help communities address their challenges, including knowing the key questions to ask, how to discover which data are most appropriate and how to put together the right team of collaborators.”

Carlos Hernández, an architect in Guatemala wrote, “this course has helped me to refresh some concepts, methodologies and techniques for design. … In a recent project, I started to use what I’ve learned.”

“This was a great class! I took the course to learn more about a topic I'm passionate about (holistic thinking at the broader systems level) and your class did not disappoint,” wrote Shawn Fetterolf from France. “It presented relevant (and interesting!) information as holistic ideas and models can be (should be!) applied to land development/improvement. Thanks again!”  

Regarding the broad nature of the course’s subject, Terumi Anne Taylor from Saudi Arabia commented, “This course was not at all in my field, but was very enlightening. The concept of geodesign … has certain principles that could be 'repurposed' for many other fields of research.”

The course instructor, Foster, is widely recognized for her research expertise in community design and planning. She is director of the Penn State Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, associate dean of the College of Arts and Architecture, and associate professor of the Department of Landscape Architecture. Foster provides leadership and guidance for Penn State’s geodesign program, which – in addition to the MOOC – offers a master of professional studies (MPS) degree and a graduate certificate in geodesign.

The MPS in Geodesign is offered exclusively online through the World Campus and is intended for professionals who are able to participate principally on a part-time basis and at a distance. Students earn the degree by successfully completing a minimum of 35 credits of course work, including a supervised individual study project. The program’s goal is to provide practicing professionals with an advanced skill set in geodesign.

The Penn State online Graduate Certificate in Geodesign program was created to prepare professionals to help lead complex sustainable design and planning projects. The 14-credit certificate is a partnership with the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in the College of Arts and Architecture and the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and delivered online through the World Campus. The certificate courses comprise the first part of the MPS degree.

With these three opportunities, Penn State is becoming a leading educational institution in the field of geodesign. By preparing individuals for the anticipated growth in design and planning professions, Penn State is providing students with the foundation to help communities and stakeholders respond to design challenges and the opportunity to become leaders in geodesign.

Read more about Penn State geodesign at

Register for the geodesign MOOC on Coursera at

Last Updated July 02, 2015