In Bentonville, Ark., while sitting on my couch, wearing pajamas, I took a class from Yale University. Psychology 110 – Introduction to Psychology. I did not take that course during my undergraduate years at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Yes, for you sports fans, the home of the Razorbacks. Since that time, I’ve come to realize that there are a number of classes that I regret not having taken. Now, however, thanks to Yale University I’m filling the gaps in my education and having a ball doing it.
Known as Open Yale Courses, the introductory courses are free of charge and open to everyone. Registration is not required and no course credit is given. However, this is one of those rare occasions when you get so much more than what you pay for.
I took the psychology course because I am an aspiring crime novelist. The antagonists I’m developing need to be authentic; therefore it’s important to get the facts, and their mental illnesses, straight. Are my characters suffering from schizophrenia, dissociative disorders and/or personality disorders? Fortunately for me, Yale Professor Paul Bloom came into my life, via my laptop’s Internet connection, and clarified the distinctions in his PSYC 110 lectures on mental illness.
And, again for practical purposes, my next course will be English 291 – The American Novel Since 1945 taught by Professor Amy Hungerford. My desire is to learn more about publishing, the relationship between writers and readers, and examine in-depth works by Philip Roth, The Human Stain, and Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood, among many others.
Participants do not have to take the entire course. You can choose the sessions you wish to view. A syllabus is provided which outlines each class session and assigned readings. Courses are available in video, audio and text format.
In addition to English and psychology, there are a variety of courses available covering subjects such as history, astronomy, economics, religious studies, physics, and more. Want to know more about black holes and dark energy? Take Prof. Charles Bailyn’s Frontiers in Astrophysics class. Or, given the recent economic upheaval, Prof. Robert Shiller’s Financial Markets course may be of interest. And, if these courses aren’t your cup of tea, Game Theory or Introduction to Ancient Greek History might be appealing.
Another opportunity for learning provided by Yale University is called Yale Lectures, which gives viewers free access to lectures, interviews, and commencement speeches. Again, because of my love of writing, I chose to watch the Reading History and Writing Fiction lecture presented by Penelope Lively, winner of the Booker Prize, with a reply offered by Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough. Three other lectures that I plan to view shortly are: Professor Paul Sabin: Climate Crisis and Energy Transition; Democracy’s Choice: Books or Bumper Stickers presented by Stephen Carter, Cromwell Professor of Law in the Yale Law School; and, Reflection on the Post-9/11 Middle East by Thomas L. Friedman, foreign affairs columnist at The New York Times. Other speakers include Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Christopher Buckley among many others.
Many understand that learning is valuable in and of itself. No official “credit” is awarded for the Yale University courses or lectures; yet, at the conclusion of each viewing you will find you have a higher degree…of personal enrichment, critical thinking skills, and understanding of important contemporary and historical issues.
Yale University, Open Yale Courses, http://oyc.yale.edu/
You Tube – yaleuniversity’s Channel,http://www.youtube.com/user/yaleuniversity?blend=4&ob=4