Opencourseware – (free)online courses from the best universities in the world

When I was in high school I had a fantasy that I would enter University and start a “Clubhouse University”, where I would meet with people who hadn’t paid tuition and teach them all the things that I learned that day. The idea was to give my very expensive knowledge to those who either couldn’t pay tuition, or just couldn’t enter a University for other reasons.

Obviously it never happened. Who would willingly participate in learning from someone who didn’t really have any experience, and wouldn’t be able to answer their questions beyond the rote learning acquired that morning??

My Clubhouse University dream was abandoned.

Then the other day I discovered Opencourseware!! While it is not quite what I had in mind when I was 16, I still feel that information should be open source. The sharing of knowledge and the spirit of my treehouse  learning center is in there somewhere. Even if you don’t take the courses, you can have a look at the reading lists and delve deep. There are also a lot of free PDFs and other learning materials available for download on the site if you dig around.

“The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”
Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering

Thanks, Dick.

Here are some examples from MIT:


How Culture Works. Taught by Prof. Manduhai Buyandelger, this course is an Anthro 101 class that everybody needs a refresher on. This course teaches you how to learn about anthro, as well. Check out this PDF about how to read Anthropology articles for a quick overview of how to engage in academic readings and not cry.

Intro to Anthropology. For those of you who want to research a topic in fashion studies using an Antrhopological  framework, this course, taught by Prof. Graham Jones, may be hugely beneficial to you.

Gender and Representations of Asian Women. Another interesting Undergraduate course taught by Prof. Manduhai Buyandelger. This course goes over the many ways that Asian women are represented in the media globally, from comfort women to so-called Dragon ladies.

Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, Modernity. This co-taught course looks at Japanese history and the skills and questions involved in reading history through images now accessible in digital formats. The course is based on the MIT “Visualizing Cultures” website devoted to image-driven research on Japan and China since the 19th century ( The introductory module considers methodologies historians use to “visualize” the past, followed by three modules that explore the themes of Westernization, in Commodore Perry’s 1853-54 expedition to Japan; social protest, in Tokyo’s 1905 Hibiya Riot; and modernity, as seen in the archives of the major Japanese cosmetics company, Shiseido.

Get. Into. It.