Steinhardt Professors Teach UNICEF Early Childhood MOOC, Reaching Learners Around the World

A new course not bound by geographic location, nor the number of desks in a classroom, is ramping up for its second global offering to students this month. The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development is a massive open online course, or MOOC, that covers innovations in science-based early childhood development programs and policies from all over the world.

The free course, which launches September 25, is part of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Academy and is sponsored by NYU Global TIES, Harvard, and UNICEF.

The SDG Academy is the flagship initiative providing education around achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and is part of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which advises the UN Secretary-General on the development and implementation of the 2015-2030 global goals.

Taught by Hirokazu Yoshikawa, the Courtney Sale Ross Professor of Globalization and Education at NYU Steinhardt, the 8-week course covers topics including the science of cognitive, language, social, and emotional development in the first years of life; the impact of adversity and toxic stress; fostering resilience; and how early childhood policies are created and implemented with quality. Case studies and video content from around the world are used to illustrate these concepts.

Yoshikawa enlisted three other early childhood experts to teach the course with him: Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt, Jack Shonkoff, director of the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, and Aisha Yousafzai of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Pia Britto, Chief of Early Childhood Development for UNICEF headquarters, also makes a special appearance as a guest lecturer.

The course was offered for the first time in the spring of 2017, with more than 2,600 students enrolling – thanks in part to singer Shakira, who narrated a video about the MOOC. Participants, the majority of whom were early childhood development professionals at NGOs, represented more than 30 countries from around the world, including India, Kenya, Uganda, Colombia, Mexico, and Afghanistan.

This fall, the course will also be used as professional development for the World Bank’s Early Years Fellowship for sub-Saharan African leaders in early childhood, and will be shared with UNICEF staff at all of its country offices worldwide.

For more information or to enroll in the free course, visit the SDG Academy’s website. Enrollment is open between September 25 and December 1.