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Ethics in Sustainable Development

In partnership with
Program Code: GVOL0761U

Course Information

Student Rating
9/ 10

Next start date

Weekly on Mondays

Enrollment closes


Course frequency

Every week


8 Weeks

Time Commitment

15 Hours



Optional Extra

GVI Program Abroad


$140 scholarships available. Book by 30 April*

Flexible Payment

Options Available


Passionate about making a positive and sustainable impact? Our Ethics in Sustainable Development online course helps you understand ethical theories in action and the role of ethics when addressing global issues.

In this online course, which is offered in partnership with the University of Richmond and UNC Charlotte, you’ll learn to analyze the ethicality of sustainable development and conservation. Discover the frameworks used to drive ethically minded decision making. Develop an understanding of how changes in religious, environmental, political and economical factors affect the evolution of global ethical practices.

You will learn the fundamentals of what the term “ethics” actually means. Then you will explore a framework for applying ethical theories to global issues. You will also join the debate around how to make the biggest impact and learn about different ways to achieve this, from aid to social justice. Finally, you will delve into examples of best practice in sustainable development, and explore impact-focused careers and movements from around the world.

This online course has been designed using over 2-decades of GVI experience operating in the sustainability sector. Over time, best practices and policies are constantly being adapted in line with advances in research and an increased pool of global knowledge. As such, you’ll begin to develop a strong understanding of the reasoning behind ethical standards within international development organizations, and social enterprises, both today and in the future.

Skills you’ll acquire

After completing this course you’ll be able to:

  • understand key components of ethical theory and how normative ethics can be applied
  • identify various movements, organisations and ideas that aim to tackle historic ethical injustices in the aid, development and charity sectors
  • discuss frameworks used to support ethically minded operations
  • analyse positive and negative ethical impacts that arise as a result of decision-making processes
  • recall problematic practices and identify ethical approaches.

Is this course for you?

This online course is for anyone who is looking to develop a mindful career in the ever-evolving space of international development. Whether you are beginning or switching to a career in the for-good industry, this online course will help you consistently develop your understanding of ethical best practice as well as recognise and mitigate the effects of malpractice.

Course Curriculum

On this course, you’ll study a series of ethical dilemmas. One may be the decision to volunteer abroad. The decision is admirable, yes, but even the best of intentions can go wrong when they are not based on best practice.

After considering these dilemmas and volunteering your own solutions, you’ll dive into the macro world of ethics and review case studies on how governing bodies, organizations and individuals conduct “ethical practices”. These will demonstrate how external factors such as money, greed, reputation and unbalanced priorities that can result in unethical decision making and negligence.

Secondly, you’ll become familiar with a variety of ethical decision making frameworks. One might be the Markkula Center Framework which identifies five approaches to be applied when evaluating decisions, especially in an “ethically grey area”. These approaches include utilitarianism, the rights approach, fairness, the common good approach and the virtue approach.

Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to look both forward and inward, to develop your own decision making process. You will leave with a solid understanding of the moral implications of your own actions on both a personal and professional level. This will give you clarity in your own ethical decisions and the confidence to hit the ground running in your career for good.
Orientation to our online learning platform
Module 1: Introduction to Ethics
Module 2: Ethical Theories in Action
Module 3: Ethics and Solutions to Global Problems
Module 4: Is There a “Right and Wrong” Way?
Module 5: The Future of Doing Good

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

This course includes material related to these Goals

Earn a certificate

Want to show colleges, universities and employers that you’ve got the knowledge and skills covered in this course? Once you’ve successfully completed any of our courses, we’ll send you a digital certificate of completion at no additional cost. The certificate will feature the official name of the course and your name. Add the certificate to your college application, your graduate school application, your job application or your LinkedIn page.

Your course expert

Rosie Urbanovich

Applied Ethics Specialist and Non-profit Communications Manager
Rosie Urbanovich is an adjunct professor of moral philosophy. In this role, she lectures undergraduates on contemporary ethical issues such as animal welfare, climate change and global poverty. She has nearly a decade of experience managing communications and other marketing activities to assist non-profits in raising funds. Rosie holds a MA in global ethics from King’s College London.

Alumni Testimonials

Course Rating

Ethics in Sustainable Development

I found this course very informative, the start was somewhat academic learning about ethical theories but I enjoyed putting these into practice with with regards to my career path and future job choices. The instructor was extremely knowledgeable and supportive throughout the duration of the cour [...]

Course Rating

Ethics in Sustainable Development

This course was awesome! I learned so much in a short period of time without it being overwhelming. The professor was really engaging and helpful.

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