Sunday, January 5, 2014

Social Sciences, Classics, and Humanities

Yale University - Moralities of Everyday Life - Professor Paul Bloom - If you've ever wondered how human beings are capable of such amazing acts of brilliance, beauty, and achievement, but simultaneously capable of unspeakable cruelty and devastation, this is the class for you. The course talks about morals and ethics and how to make sense of varying opinions on topics of torture, war, genocide, racism, abortion, and more. The course aims to teach you to challenge your own biases and teach you to look at your own deeply held beliefs, but also how to challenge others, understand them, and explore the modern science of moral belief and moral action. You'll study actions from households to the battlefield, study laboratory research and real world situations, and investigate the differences between beliefs on opposite ends of every political and ideological spectrum. It's not for the easily offended or puritanical though—you'll cover topics of prejudice and bigotry, sexuality and purity, crime and punishment, vengeance and revenge, and more. University of Birmingham - Shakespeare's Hamlet: Text, Performance, and Culture - Professor Michael Dobson -Shakespeare's Hamlet is often described as one of his best works: multi-layered and intelligent, at times contradictory and paranoid, but a seminal tragedy that helps define the genre and is still performed even today. This course will walk you through the text, how the play is performed, the environment in which it was written, and so much more. You'll hear from experts in theatrical history, classic literature, and modern drama to understand how and why such a amazing piece of fiction has managed to persevere for so long. Harvard - Early Christianity: The Letters of Paul - Professor Laura Nasrallah - So much of Christianity focuses entirely on the Bible, when the Letters of Paul are some of the oldest Christian documents, written at a time when the word "Christian" didn't exist by arguably one of the first people to ever hold the title. This course examines the religious and political context of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago, what those letters said, how they were interpreted, and how their impact is still with us today. The course also examines archaeological materials and ancient documents that help shape the world in which Paul lived and wrote his letters, some of his inspirations, and what, if anything, there is to be learned from them today. University of Virginia - The Modern World: Global History Since 1760 - Professor Philip Zelikow - The world was a very different place over 300 years ago, but the underpinnings of that society are the foundations on which everything we know today are built. What did the world look like back then? What were the worries and concerns of global powers, nation-states, and of course, of everyday people? What were the amazing discoveries of the day, or the world-changing events that shaped the world then until now? This course will walk you through all of that, with special emphasis on individuals and the little histories that give us clues into what the world was like and how it came to be the way it is today. The University of Warwick - The Mind Is Flat: The Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology- Professor Nick Chater - In many ways, human beings are incredibly predictable. We suffer under the illusion of mental depth—that all of our actions and decisions are based on some deeper, mental wrangling and inner thought processes when in reality most of our decisions, actions, and everyday activities are really defined by simple sets of needs, desires, habits, and behaviors. This course will expose some of those things to you, not to dissuade you from thinking you're an interesting person or that humans are interesting, but to help you understand the real motivations behind your own actions and decisions, and those of others, their morality, and even the movements of large markets, nations, and leaders. Rutgers University - Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences - Explore how the human perspective on the afterlife and the soul formed in this course. The course goes back into the depths of ancient history to explore how societies gone by all came up with and cemented their own various beliefs in a persistent "soul" that would exist after death, what those various cultures and societies believed, how those beliefs changed as time progressed, and where we stand today. The point of the course isn't to challenge anyone's specific beliefs, but rather to examine the causes and the consequences of those beliefs—how they arose, and how those beliefs then shape society, morality, ethics, and human behavior as a result. Harvard - Poetry in America: The Poetry of New England - Professor Elisa New - From Puritan poets to hip hop artists, this Harvard course aims to explore the history and variety of the past 400 years of poetry on the American continent. The course will start with the classic poets of the 17th century, retelling their lives and experiences in the New World, and progress through history all the way to the current day, where many of the themes and topics remain the same, even if the language, style, and structures have changed. You'll cover major historical figures you may know (Poe, Frost, Dickinson, etc.) but go beyond and study less well-known names and avant garde poets working on their art today. iVersity - Public Privacy: Cyber Security and Human Rights - Professor Anja Mihr - "Human Rights" is a phrase thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean, especially in the context of the digital age and the internet? This course will examine human rights, both afforded by international law and common belief and practice, and then weave in the internet, topics of privacy, public space, e-governance, and the conflict between state sovereignty and the privacy rights of the public all in one course. It's currently going (it started last month) so hop in now to catch up!

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