Democratising Education for
Global Sustainability and Justice

Key Essentials: The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sustainable Development, and the Law

  • The UNCRC is a universally accepted standard for children’s rights, addressing the social, educational, economic, and health rights of children. Its implementation is crucial for safeguarding children’s rights in the face of global challenges, including poverty, violence, discrimination, and lack of access to education.
  • This entirely online, self-paced course is designed for leaders and learners in law, policy-making, analysis, practice, and reporting. It targets individuals from governments, academia, civil society, and practitioner communities, offering an in-depth understanding of the UNCRC.
  • The course delves into the challenges in implementing children’s rights, potential solutions, and the role of law in promoting children’s rights globally and in specific jurisdictions.

Learning Objectives

  • Introduce learners to critical issues in children’s rights law and governance.
  • Explore the UNCRC and its mechanisms for supporting policy and law makers, including advocacy, protection, and rehabilitation strategies.
  • Identify and analyze innovative legal and policy solutions for children’s rights at domestic levels.
  • Equip learners with skills for effective monitoring, reporting, and advocating for children’s rights.
  • Motivate learners to advance their careers in child protection, justice, and international human rights.
Learners familiarize themselves with the course structure and resources. They participate in a live session to meet course instructors and fellow learners globally. The module also covers the key elements, structure, and principles of the UNCRC.
This module delves into the rights guaranteed to children under the UNCRC and the obligations of States Parties. It covers various rights, including the right to education, health, and protection from abuse and exploitation.
Learners explore legal frameworks and policies for child protection and welfare. The module covers topics like child custody, adoption laws, and protection against exploitation and abuse. It also addresses the special protections needed for children in vulnerable situations, including refugee children, indigenous children, children with disabilities, and those affected by conflict or disaster.
This module is on the rights to education and health under the UNCRC. The module examines legal and policy frameworks ensuring access to quality education and healthcare for children.
This module explores the principles and practices surrounding children’s right to participate in decisions that affect their lives, a core tenet of the UNCRC. It includes case studies highlighting successful models of child participation internationally and offers strategies for effectively incorporating children’s opinions into law and policy-making worldwide.
In the final module, instructors offer insights into the future of children’s rights law and governance. Learners reflect on their learning and are invited to join a network of course alumni.

Key Essentials: The Sustainable Development Goals and the Law​

  • This self-paced online course provides leaders and learners in law and policy making, analysis, practice and reporting, from governments, academia and civil society and practitioner communities with an overview of the emerging approaches and frameworks of sustainable development law.
  • The course examines key challenges, solutions, and the role of law in scaling up implementation worldwide and in learners’ jurisdictions.

Learning Objectives

  • Introduce learners to the relevance of sustainable development law and governance.
  • Engage learners in thinking critically about how sustainable development is reflected in law and governance worldwide.
  • Introduce learners to the role of governance in sustainable development law.
    Prepare learners to strengthen the role of law and policy in monitoring and reporting.
  • Inspire learners to advance their global careers in sustainability and justice.
In Module 1, learners become familiar with the course structure and provided resources. Learners attend a live session during which they meet some of the course instructors and other learners from around the world. Learners also explore the online UN resources on sustainable goals and the law.
In Module 2, learners gain an understanding of the origins and evolution of sustainable development law and its key principles. Learners analyse how sustainable development law operates at the national and international levels and examine the role of institutions like the UN, regional organizations, and national governments in shaping and implementing sustainable development policies and laws. Learners further explore case studies of sustainable development law in practice. 
In Module 3, learners become familiar with the role of international law and governance in achieving sustainable development goals related to the global economy. Learners explore the legal and policy frameworks that govern international trade, investment, and finance in the context of sustainable development. Learners also examine the key principles and practices of sustainable development in the context of the global economy and evaluate the potential of public-private partnerships and other innovative approaches to sustainable development in the global economy, and their potential benefits and drawbacks. Lastly, learners critically assess the challenges and opportunities of aligning national economic policies with the SDGs, and the role of international cooperation and coordination in this process.
In Module 4, learners gain an understanding of the role of international law and governance in achieving sustainable development goals for the biosphere. Learners explore the legal and policy frameworks that govern international biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation; examine the key principles and practices of sustainable development in the context of the biosphere; and evaluate the potential of public-private partnerships and other innovative approaches to sustainable development for the biosphere and their potential benefits and drawbacks. Learners also critically assess the challenges and opportunities of aligning national environmental policies with the SDGs, and the role of international cooperation and coordination in this process.
In Module 5, learners become familiar with the role of international law and governance in achieving sustainable development goals related to human rights and societies. Learners explore the legal and policy frameworks that govern human rights; examine the key principles and practices of sustainable development in the context of human rights; and evaluate the potential of public-private partnerships and other innovative approaches to sustainable development for human rights and their potential benefits and drawbacks. Learners also critically assess the challenges and opportunities of aligning national human rights policies with the SDGs, and the role of international cooperation and coordination in this process.
In Module 6, learners join a live closing session in which course instructors offer final remarks and insights on the role of sustainable development law and governance and provide instructions for learners to receive their course certifications. Learners are invited to join a network of course alumni.

Key Essentials: The Wealth Economy, Sustainable Development and the Law

  • This self-paced, online course provides leaders and learners in economics, law and policy making, analysis, practice and reporting, from governments, academia and civil society and practitioner communities with an overview of the emerging approaches and frameworks of public policy for the Wealth Economy.
  • The course examines key challenges and solutions in scaling up implementation worldwide and in learners’ jurisdictions.

Learning Objectives

  • Introduce learners to the core challenges inherent in promoting a wealth economy.
  • Engage learners in thinking critically about how nature and other goods are valued in accounting codes, law and policy worldwide.Introduce learners to the role of governance in supporting a wealth economy.
  • Prepare learners to strengthen the role of law and policy in monitoring and reporting.
    Inspire learners to continue their professional development.
In Module 1, learners become familiar with the course structure and provided resources. Learners attend a live session during which they meet some of the course instructors and other learners from around the world. Learners also gain an understanding of and appreciation for the urgent need for the true cost accounting of capital.
In this module, learners examine the principles and core concepts of the Wealth Economy frameworks. Learners become familiar with the various forms of capital and the need to develop new forms of accounting that move Beyond GDP in order to achieve the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals. 
In this module, learners examine the challenges that affect physical and human capital. Learners become familiar with the how new forms of accounting that move Beyond GDP to better value physical and human capital in order to achieve the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals. 
In this module, learners examine the global challenges that affect natural capital. Learners become familiar with the how new forms of accounting that move Beyond GDP to better value natural capital in order to achieve the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals. 
In this module, learners examine the global challenges that affect social capital. Learners become familiar with the how new forms of accounting can move Beyond GDP to better value social capital in order to achieve the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals.
In Module 6, learners join a live closing session in which course instructors offer final remarks and insights regarding wealth economy, sustainable development and the law and career paths available for professionals in this area. Learners are invited to join a network of course alumni.

Key Essentials: The Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development and the Law

  • As global temperatures rise and climate change causes more severe and frequent natural disasters, its impacts threaten to undermine decades of social and economic development, not only disrupting efforts to protect the environment, but also preventing human’s rights to life, health, food and water.
  • This entirely online, self-paced course provides leaders and learners in law and policy making, analysis, practice and reporting, from governments, academia and civil society and practitioner communities with an overview of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • The course examines key challenges, solutions, and the role of law in scaling up implementation worldwide and in learners’ jurisdictions.

Learning Objectives

  • Introduce learners to pressing climate change law and governance challenges.
  • Explore the Paris Agreement and the tools it offers for policy and law makers, including access to finance, transparency and science.
  • Identify and analyse innovative domestic legal and policy solutions.
  • Prepare learners to strengthen the role of law and policy in monitoring and reporting.
  • Inspire learners to advance their global careers in sustainability and justice.
In Module 1, learners become familiar with the course structure and provided resources. Learners attend a live session during which they meet some of the course instructors and other learners from around the world. Learners also explore the key elements, structures and principles of the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC.
In this module, learners examine climate mitigation obligations under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. Learners become familiar with the legal commitments to transition to net zero and the law and policy aspects necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strive to hold average global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In this module, learners examine adaptation commitments under the Paris Agreement and in Parties’ NDCs. Learners explore national adaptation plans and are introduced to the legal and governance aspects of climate resilience. Learners examine the Loss & Damage provisions under the Paris Agreement and gain insights into the pivotal Loss & Damage outcomes from COP27.
In this module, learners examine climate finance provisions under the Paris Agreement and explore efforts to align financial flows with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Learners also become familiar with different carbon market policy structures and low-GHG emissions development pathways.
In this module, learners examine the key aspects of the enhanced transparency framework under the Paris Agreement and gain exposure to the transparency modalities, procedures and guidelines decided at later Conferences of the Parties. Learners also develop an understanding of the functions and objectives of the Paris Agreement Implementation and Compliance Committee (PAICC).
In Module 6, learners join a live closing session in which course instructors offer final remarks and insights regarding climate change law and governance and career paths available for professionals interested in climate change, sustainable development and justice. Learners are invited to join a network of course alumni.

Key Essentials: The Global Biodiversity Framework, Sustainable Development and the Law

  • Biodiversity loss has occurred at alarming rates over the last few decades, to the extent that species extinction is occurring approximately 1000 times faster than baseline levels.
  • This entirely online, self-paced course provides leaders and learners in law and policy making, analysis, practice and reporting, from governments, academia and civil society and practitioner communities with an overview of the Global Biodiversity Framework under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • The course examines key challenges, solutions, and the role of law in scaling up implementation worldwide and in learners’ jurisdictions.

Learning Objectives

  • Introduce learners to pressing biodiversity law and governance challenges.
  • Explore the Global Biodiversity Framework and the tools it offers for policy and law makers, including access to finance, transparency and science.
  • Identify and analyse innovative domestic legal and policy solutions.
  • Prepare learners to strengthen the role of law and policy in monitoring and reporting.
  • Inspire learners to advance their global careers in sustainability and justice.
In Module 1, learners become familiar with the course structure and provided resources. Learners attend a live session during which they meet some of the course instructors and other learners from around the world. Learners explore the Convention on Biological Diversity and updates from the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15), including the recently adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
In this module, learners examine Goal A of the new Global Biodiversity Framework and explore international targets to reduce threats to biodiversity, slow extinction rates, maintain genetic diversity of both wild and domesticated species, and enhance and substantially increase the area of natural ecosystems.
In this module, learners examine Goal B of the Global Biodiversity Framework and explore international targets to sustainably use and manage biodiversity, as well as examples of policies and laws at the regional, national and local levels to support such international targets. Learners also become familiar with international commitments for the sustainable use, harvest and trade of wild species under the Global Biodiversity Framework and how those interrelate with the international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
In this module, learners examine Goal C of the Global Biodiversity Framework and explore international targets relating to access and benefit-sharing. Learners become familiar with the Nagoya Protocol, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and analyse their interconnections with the Global Biodiversity Framework. Learners also understand the importance of protecting traditional knowledge.
In this module, learners examine Goal D which aims for adequate means of implementation, including financial resources, capacity-building, technical and scientific cooperation, and access to and transfer of technology in the new Global Biodiversity Framework. Learners explore the law and governance aspects involved in implementing the new, international framework and its goals and targets.
In Module 6, learners join a live closing session in which course instructors offer final remarks and insights regarding the Global Biodiversity Framework, sustainable development and the law and careers paths available for professionals in this area. Learners are invited to join a network of course alumni.

Key Essentials: Trade Rules, Sustainable Development and the Law

  • This entirely online, self-paced course provides leaders and learners in law and policy making, analysis, practice and reporting, from governments, academia and civil society and practitioner communities with an overview of the international trade rules and the World Trade Organization.
  • The course examines key challenges, solutions, and the role of law in scaling up implementation worldwide and in learners’ jurisdictions.

Learning Objectives

  • Introduce learners to pressing sustainable trade law and governance challenges.
  • Explore the international trade rules and the tools they offer for policy and law makers.
  • Identify and analyse innovative bilateral agreements integrating sustainable trade in practice.
  • Inspire learners to advance their global careers in sustainability and justice.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Democratising Education for Global Sustainability and Justice (DE-GSJ) programme aims to harness the potential of international law to empower communities and governments across the globe, and in particular in highly vulnerable countries to respond to the world’s convergence of crises. This programme, co-hosted by Lucy Cavendish College and Hughes Hall (University of Cambridge) offers free and accessible courses on the law and policy dimensions of sustainability to learners from around the world and trains law and policy specialists to implement essential treaties on all levels.
This programme is primarily designed to train law and policy leaders. However anyone committed to making a difference through policy and law to promote sustainable development can join this wide community of practice.
Each course provides eight to ten hours of total learning time, with five focused, intensive modules of instruction from leading University of Cambridge and global experts, live classroom engagements, access to leading materials and several hours of independent, self-paced work.

This is a non-credit bearing programme. However, upon successful completion of each course,
learners are eligible for a certificate from leading expert institutes of the University of Cambridge
and global partners. Successful completion of the courses also gives learners access to potential further scholarship opportunities for intensive professional development courses provided through Cambridge Advance Online.

In an effort to widen access to education and scale up capacity all over the world, including in developing countries, each course is offered for free provided that the applicant is successfully admitted to the programme. Each learner receives a scholarship in the sense that they are entitled to complete the course without having to pay the amount at which the course is valued (800 GBP). Please bear in mind that this scholarship does not mean that you will receive 800 GBP.
For now, these courses are only available in English.

Under the section ‘Educational Offerings’, courses that are open for applications are listed. As for the application process, it consists of two steps.

Step 1: Express interest in one or more of the courses being offered via Eventbrite using the links in the ‘Educational Offerings’ section (if the portal is open).
Step 2: After expressing interest, the applicant will receive a link to an online application form via email and should complete the form as soon as possible.

Please note that both Step 1 and Step 2 must be completed by the application deadline for the application to be considered, and the steps are to be completed separately for each course that the applicant wishes to apply for.

For more specific queries, please contact the Research Coordinator, Tejas Rao, at tr465@cam.ac.uk or the Programme Coordinator, Maeve McDermott, at mem86@cam.ac.uk.