Photo via James Vaughn

I recently stumbled upon one of the most ingenious resources available on the internet and want to share it with you. Personally, I don’t think any post is worth more than one that allows the public to access something so marvelous, so productive, so stimulating, and so superbly edifying. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit, but truth be told, having an online lecture course by some of the most renowned scholars at your fingertips is quite impressive. While you may not be able to attend their classes, you can certainly sit quietly at your computer, plug in your headphones, and watch lecturers talk about a particular subject or listen to their lectures over iTunes. Is that great or what? And it is all free.

Open Culture, an online source for free cultural and educational media, has approximately 400 online “courses”  by well-known scholars available. I’m talking about scholars such as David Harvey, Richard Wolff, Clayborne Carson, Harvey Molotch, Michael Burawoy, and many more. Each of these scholars has taught graduate and undergraduate courses over their academic careers which they have recorded and now made available to the public. For instance, those interested in reading Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy, may find David Harvey’s lecture series helpful while reading Marx’s book. Harvey has recorded 13 sessions of lectures covering Capital after teaching it for 30 years. Because this particular text can be confusing, having a renowned scholar like David Harvey help a reader understand Marx is a great luxury. Other scholars I’ve mentioned have also made their lectures public, in many cases, through online lectures organized by their universities and colleges, such as UC Berkeley, Yale, and MIT. This seems like a growing trend, with implications for pedagogy.

Additionally, a great stock of foreign language courses is also available, including a fascinating Spanish language course created by the BBC. It provides an interactive feature that includes watching a sort of virtual movie while you learn basic Spanish.  Need to learn the basics of a language for your research project (not uncommon)? Why spend money when you can do it for zilch?

In any event, check out Open Culture and immerse yourself in one of these lectures. I sure you will find something worth your time. Enjoy!


Author: Julian Thompson

Julian Thompson is a research assistant at the Social Science Research Center at DePaul University. He is completing his MA in Sociology and is expecting to begin doctoral studies in the fall of 2012. Broadly speaking, his interests revolve around issues of identity, culture, power, legal practices and discourses, and inequality. His specific research domains are prisons, punishment, ex-offender reentry, street life, mental illness, and immigration detention and deportation. However, he is particularly interested in studying the racialized experiences of imprisonment and re-entry and the way these impact the racial understandings that offenders of color inculcate and use when making sense of their lives and criminal engagements.

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