Seven new Open Yale Courses now available free online

April 5, 2012

Seven new Yale College courses — in subjects ranging from the great 20th-century American novelists and the philosophy of human nature to financial markets and organic chemistry — have been added to Open Yale Courses, the University’s open educational initiative. The content for each of these courses is available for free to anyone with access to the Internet.

The seven courses, along with 35 posted previously, are featured on a redesigned website, which offers many new user-friendly options and is optimized for mobile devices. Participants may select courses by professor, course title, and recording date, and watch lecture videos directly from their browsers with the most up-to-date embedded video format. Chapters highlighting key lecture topics have been added to the videos and transcripts, allowing users to navigate forward and backward with greater ease.

Each course, recorded in its entirety as it was presented to Yale College students, is taught by one of the University’s most distinguished faculty members. Open Yale Courses may be accessed at The courses are available in high-definition video and audio formats, and they offer the experience of the Yale classroom. Closed captioning is provided for each course, as well as searchable transcripts, syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets, and other materials. Users have the option of downloading video and audio files of Open Yale Courses to follow at their convenience. No registration is required for these courses, and participants do not earn academic credit from Yale nor do they interact with the professors.

Open Yale Courses is one of the most frequently visited Yale websites. It has received over 3.8 million unique visits since its debut in December 2007 and has delivered over 40 million page views since May 2009. In an effort to increase accessibility and to allow faster downloading of the materials, Open Yale Courses media content is also available at Yale’s YouTube and Apple iTunesU channels.

The material has been accessed approximately 27 million times through these channels alone. Apart from the United States, the greatest number of visitors to Open Yale Courses comes from China, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea, Germany, Brazil, India, Russia, Australia, and Taiwan. 

The new courses and their instructors are:

• “African American Studies 162: African American History: From Emancipation to the Present” (Jonathan Holloway, professor of history, African American studies, and American studies)

• “American Studies 246: Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald” (Wai Chee Dimock, the William Lampson Professor of English and American studies)

• “Chemistry 125b: Freshman Organic Chemistry II” (J. Michael McBride, the Richard M. Colgate Professor of Chemistry)

• “Economics 252: Financial Markets–2011” (Robert Shiller, the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics)

• “Geology and Geophysics 140: Atmosphere, Ocean, and Environmental Change” (Ronald Smith, the Damon Wells Professor of Geology and Geophysics)

• “History 210: The Early Middle Ages, 284-1000” (Paul H. Freedman, the Chester D. Tripp Professor of History)

• “Philosophy 181: Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature” (Tamar Gendler, professor of philosophy and cognitive science)

Shiller’s popular “Financial Markets” course is for those who are forming their impressions of the modern world of financial capitalism, and this new version reflects changes to the worldwide economy since 2008, when Shiller first recorded the course. “Financial Markets–2011” also reflects ideas Shiller develops in his latest book, “Finance and the Good Society” (Princeton University Press, 2012). The book is being translated into Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The release of these new courses coincides with the publication by Yale University Press of the first three books in The Open Yale Courses Series, which is designed to bring the depth and breadth of a Yale education to a wide variety of readers at affordable prices. Based on the Open Yale Courses program, these books cover a broad range of topics across disciplines in the social sciences, physical sciences, and humanities, and offer accessible introductions. The first three titles are: Paul H. Fry, “Theory of Literature”; Shelly Kagan, “Death”; and Dale B. Martin, “New Testament History and Literature.”

Yale has also entered into an agreement with the DaVinci Learning channel, a cable television content provider based in Germany, to use Open Yale Courses as featured content in eastern Europe, Greece, and Turkey, with the possibility of further expansion over time.

“We are delighted that so many people around the world have accessed our Open Yale Courses,” said President Richard C. Levin. “In the new courses we are releasing today, we are taking full advantage of the latest technology to bring the learning of our distinguished faculty to students of all ages and interests.”

“These seven new Open Yale Courses allow us to offer a full college curriculum of 42 courses reflecting the broad liberal arts education provided by Yale College to anyone with an Internet connection,” said Diana E.E. Kleiner, the Dunham Professor of the History of Art and Classics, and the founding director of the project. “And there is continued evidence that many participants are ‘taking’ our complete courses, replicating the on-campus experience in a remarkable way.”

To encourage the widest possible use of the courses, the license that covers most of the lectures and other material on Open Yale Courses is a “Creative Commons’ Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0” license. This license permits the free use or repurposing of the Open Yale Courses material by others. Under this license, users may download and redistribute the Open Yale Courses material, as well as remix and build upon the content to produce new lectures or other educational tools. The license only forbids commercial use of the Open Yale Courses material.

The production of these free courses was made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The Open Yale Courses project is produced and supported by the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation, which promotes the use of technology to enhance learning at Yale and beyond. Open Yale Courses was ranked as one of the top 50 websites of 2011 by Time Magazine and was included in PCWorld magazine’s “38 Incredibly Useful Sites List” (2011).

Open Yale Courses posted previously and still accessible

“Astronomy: Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics,” Charles Bailyn

“Chemistry: Freshman Organic Chemistry I,” J. Michael McBride

“Classics: Introduction to Ancient Greek History,” Donald Kagan

“Biomedical Engineering: Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering,” W. Mark Saltzman

“Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Principles of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior,” Stephen Stearns

“Economics: Game Theory,” Ben Polak

“Economics: Financial Markets–2008,” Robert Shiller

“Economics: Financial Theory,” John Geanakoplos

“English: The American Novel Since 1945,” Amy Hungerford

“English: Milton,” John Rogers

“English: Modern Poetry,” Langdon Hammer

“English: Introduction to Theory of Literature,” Paul Fry

“Environmental Studies: Environmental Politics and Law,” John Wargo

“History: The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877,” David Blight

“History: France Since 1871,” John Merriman

“History: European Civilization, 1648-1945,” John Merriman

“History: American Revolution,” Joanne Freeman

“History: Epidemics and Society in the West Since 1600,” Frank Snowden

“History: Early Modern England: Politics, Religion, and Society under the Tudors and Stuarts,” Keith Wrightson

“History of Art: Roman Architecture,” Diana E.E. Kleiner

“Italian: Dante in Translation,” Giuseppe Mazzotta

“Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: Global Problems of Population Growth,” Robert J. Wyman

“Music: Listening to Music,” Craig Wright

“Philosophy: Death,” Shelly Kagan

“Physics: Fundamentals of Physics I,” Ramamurti Shankar

“Physics: Fundamentals of Physics II,” Ramamurti Shankar

“Political Science: Introduction to Political Philosophy,” Steven Smith

“Political Science: The Moral Foundations of Politics,” Ian Shapiro

“Political Science: Capitalism: Success, Crisis, and Reform,” Douglas Rae

“Psychology: Introduction to Psychology,” Paul Bloom

“Psychology: The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food,” Kelly Brownell

“Religious Studies: Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible),” Christine Hayes

“Religious Studies, Introduction to New Testament History and Literature,” Dale B. Martin

“Sociology: Foundations of Modern Social Theory,” Iván Szelényi

“Spanish: Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote,’” Roberto González Echevarría

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