There’s nothing like the college experience: sharing a room the size of a shoebox, taking part in impromptu midnight study sessions, dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet every day, and so much more. While college tour guides are sure to sing the praises of the weekly BBQs and the retro-chic dorm rooms, they may not focus too much on the most important part of your time in college: the courses themselves. Sure, the professors may be quoted daily in the New York Times, but how do they stack up in the classroom?
These days, some schools have made it easy to judge for yourself, thanks to publicly available video lectures, which are free to anyone with an Internet connection. Whether you’re eager to see what the future holds, or you simply want to spend your free time learning from the best and brightest, here are some of the best video lectures available online.
Yale, “The Philosophy of Death.”
This philosophy course from Yale University ponders the issue: “I am going to die. But what am I to make of that fact?” Professor Shelly Kagan, dressed in jeans and Chuck Taylors, guides his real and virtual students through the moral issues regarding death, suicide, euthanasia, and other mortal concepts with humor and insight. Watch it here.
Stanford, Entrepreneurship series.
Hoping to pull a Mark Zuckerberg by creating an Internet start-up and getting filthy rich by the time you’re 22? Go for it—but first, you might want to heed the advice of those who’ve been there and done that. Stanford recently held a series of lectures by Chris Larsen, CEO and co-founder of the peer-to-peer online lending site, Prosper.com, in which he shares the trials and tribulations of starting a company from scratch. Before you hire your first intern, learn more in the lectures here.
UCLA, “Science, Magic, and Religion.”
In this history course from UCLA, Professor Courtenay Raia provides a fascinating glimpse at social perception throughout history, exploring how scientific elements have been seen as magical by some cultures, and diving into the modern “mystic” culture. Any Harry Potter on the syllabus? You’ll have to go find out.
UC Berkeley, “Buddhist Psychology.”
Interested in Buddhism? Find out how meditation and mindfulness fit in with modern psychology in this fascinating course from UC Berkeley. Check it out—it will bring you good karma.
Caltech, “The Amazing World of Bubbles.”
You probably enjoyed blowing bubbles as a kid, but we bet you’ve never taken the time to analyze their scientific properties. In this unique lecture from Caltech Mechanical Engineering professor Chris Brennen, you’ll learn about how bubbles’ abilities to harness and radiate energy can be a force of either good or evil in the world of technology. View it here.
Harvard, “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness.”
What is happiness, and how can we attain it in our daily lives? It’s a complicated question, and, while many self-help books and TV shows address it, very few reveal anything of substance. Instead of listening to them, try this enlightening and inspiring lecture from Harvard psychology professor Tal Ben-Shahar, whose Positive Psychology class is one of the university’s most popular. It’ll make you think and smile—a rare combination!
Oxford, “The Future of the Web.”
These days, the Internet informs our everyday lives to a huge extent, whether it’s researching an essay, sending emails to our friends, downloading music, or even video-conferencing with family on the other side of the world. The web has opened many doors for us already—but what does the future hold? There’s no one more prepared to answer that question than Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the original World Wide Web. Find out what he has to say in this fascinating video.
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