Unconventional online courses to explore the lesser known

From gender diversity to the biology of music, here are some fascinating online courses open to anyone.

© Yuwen Memon

There is a wide range of issues which can bring up a large number of questions in our minds. Often not knowing where to find in-depth information about it, we let it slip by. But the internet is boon when it comes to gaining knowledge.

A number of prestigious universities offer fascinating courses about concepts which we come across in our everyday lives. They bring to us a different aspect, make us think a little deeper and expand the horizons of our mind. With the summer holidays coming soon, we have put together a list of such courses to keep your mind occupied. Start learning, start growing!

1. Health Across the Gender Spectrum

This course helps the learners understand gender and identity © Franziska Neumeister

Understanding is the first step towards inclusiveness. Today, one of the pressing needs is to widen our perspective about gender and identity. This online course offered by Coursera and taught by Maya Adam, a lecturer at Stanford School of Medicine aims to bring learners closer to understanding gender identity and gender spectrum through the experience of six transgender children and families.

With illustrated stories and short teaching videos, the Stanford physicians, educators and transgender faculty members aim to help parents, teachers, healthcare providers, anyone and everyone, create a gender-expansive environment.

The course is just three weeks long and needs the learner to invest about an hour every week. Check it out here.

2. Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

The course focuses on the content we post on social media platforms. © Jason Howie

Have you ever wondered why people post photos, memes and other images on social media? In recent years, there has been an increasing importance of images in communication on social media. Many of the discussions around such platforms focus on its reach and potential. Bu this course concentrates on the content posted on social media. Based on the work of nine anthropologists who spent 15 months each in Brazil, Chile, China, England, India, Italy, Trinidad and Turkey, this course is offered by UCL.

The course will cover how social media affects politics, gender, education and much more. Within five weeks, the learners will understand the impact and consequence that social media has on our everyday life. As the course description says: “Adopting an anthropological and comparative approach, we strive to understand not only how social media has changed the world, but how the world has changed social media.”

The course requires an investment of three hours per week. Check it out here.

3. Understanding Memory: Explaining the Psychology of Memory through Movies

33372402060_4f07895bdb_z (1)
Understanding memory through films © Thomas Huang

Memory is as mysterious as it is fascinating. The deeper you dig, the more you want to know. This course taught by John Seamon of the Wesleyan University shows how memory works, why it sometimes fails and many other aspects of it but all through clips from films.  Aimed at making people understand memory in an easy manner without the heavy technical jargon, this course welcomes people with no prior background in psychology.

Seamon believes there is a lot to learn from films if we watch them with an educated eye. Films can facilitate our understanding of memory through people’s stories, showing us for example, how their past shapes their present and much more.

It is a five-week course which requires one or two hours of commitment every week. Check it out here.

4. Health in Humanitarian Crises

Understanding the healthcare challenges of humanitarian crises © UNAMID

There are people for whom violence has become a reality, a part of their everyday life which makes them vulnerable and contributes to their ill-health.

Other than armed conflicts, natural disasters and other hazards have continuing effects on health and health systems that can undermine decades of social development. Humanitarian crisis such as violence and insecurity, mass population displacement, severely deteriorated daily living conditions and impoverishment present a number of challenges for delivering healthcare.

From disrupting healthcare services to limiting access to human, financial and technical resources, the challenges of humanitarian crises are wide-ranging. In this free course, learners will understand the health needs during and after humanitarian crises, learn about the practical responses to the health needs, look at the new and continuing challenges facing the world and health innovations can help.

This three-week-long course is offered by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and requires the learners to invest three to four hours of their time every week. More info on this course here.

5. Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why

16020203085_c50b136d88_z (1)
Exploring music in a biological framework © Jonathan Gross

Why do we like a certain type of music? Why does a particular song make us feel a certain way? There is an array of questions regarding the effect music has on us. This course aims to explore exactly that topic. From the tone combinations we like to the emotions we feel towards it, all of it will be explored in a biological framework.

The six-week-long course will take the learners through the overview of the human auditory system to understanding how the sound signals transformed into sound stimuli to how speech and culture are related. The course taught by Dale Purves from Duke University, “analyses of speech and musical databases are consistent with the idea that the chromatic scale (the set of tones used by humans to create music), consonance and dissonance, worldwide preferences for a few dozen scales from the billions that are possible.”

Check it out here.

Share the positive!