21 Nov 2020
Pardes Hanna-Karkur, Israel
Communication for sustainability

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” So said Benjamin Franklin, the American inventor and statesman, when reflecting on the long-term benefits of equipping people to think. Dikla Zisman, a lecturer in ecology and environmentalism, has channeled Franklin’s far-sightedness by establishing Green Academy, an Israeli online college for eco-friendly courses. “Our aim is to create as many green agents as possible,” said Zisman.

Green Academy pursues this noble objective by making its online classes available to all willing students — no matter their age, nationality, or previous environmental experience. Already, Zisman has convinced fellow Israeli lecturers to deliver courses, and students are beginning to sign up. The future looks very promising for Green Academy, as it takes eco-friendly knowledge global.

Green Academy represents the marriage of complementary talents, as environmental and business expertise combine. Zisman reports that she has long felt confident in her ability to inspire her students and show them how to protect the environment. What she lacked, however, was the marketing and commercial savvy to reach a wider audience.

Enter Adi Binnun, a student who approached Zisman after an environmental consulting class at Karkur College. Binnun proposed a joint venture that would bring Zisman’s subject knowledge to the world, capitalising on Binnun’s business acumen. “I met my perfect match in Adi,” Zisman remarked.

This year, the pair set about turning that bright idea into Green Academy. Zisman recruited a range of experienced environmental lecturers to design course content, including SwitchMed collaborator Yair Engel. Together, the experts have assembled curricula on topics like green construction, environmental leadership, and resource-efficient cities.

Meanwhile, Binnun took care of shaping the company’s business plan and public messaging. The online platform ensures that Green Academy can begin thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic, with its restrictions on face-to-face classes. Binnun has also explored options for reaching enthusiastic students beyond Israel’s borders.

This worldwide audience will hopefully create an international network of green activists with the necessary skills for making meaningful environmental change. After the pandemic, Zisman and Binnun also plan to hold in-person activities, like field trips to green cities.

For now, Green Academy remains at an early stage of development. Fifteen students have registered for classes, while the college’s website is still under construction. Nevertheless, the Green Academy team is tentatively projecting that the college will make profits within the next 6-12 months.

But if profitability takes a little longer to achieve, Green Academy demonstrates the power of a sound, eco-friendly business idea — even in the middle of a global pandemic. Zisman traces the project’s enthusiastic reception to its core principles. “For this kind of business, the best advice is to be a personal example to others by living out your eco-friendly ideals,” said Zisman. 

 

Learn more about Green Academy through Facebook.

Photos courtesy of Green Academy

Green Academy Communication for sustainability
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