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Free Online Ivy League Courses for Every Type of Geek
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Years after we’ve marched in our togas and thought finally, we are free from homework and exams, we begin to miss school—from that “aha!” moment you get when you finally understand a profound philosophical passage in a reading to that proud feeling you get after correctly solving for the trajectory in which a ball was thrown from atop a hill. Learning gives us that sense of fulfillment that’s difficult to compare to any other feeling, which is why we’re more than grateful for the advances of modern technology that allow us to continue schooling without actually having to be physically present in the classroom and clad in uniform.

Many of the Ivy League universities have taken to the online medium to disseminate their many courses and even offer some for free, as we have learned from a few interesting Harvard courses some time ago. The pickings are far from slim and there’s a course to feed your every type of geek.

For the Science Geek:


Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science (Harvard)

This course uses cooking techniques of chefs and their most famous culinary creations to explain molecular behavior and diffusion. The kitchen will be your very own laboratory.

Vital Signs: Understanding What The Body is Telling Us (University of Pennsylvania)

The course name speaks for itself as the six-part course explores the anatomy and physiology underlying the vital signs so you gain a systematic understanding of how the human body works.

Sharks! Global Biodiversity, Biology, and Conservation (Cornell University)

Did you know that sharks had more senses than humans? This biology course tracks sharks through a research on location in labs and oceans across the globe. You will also develop a better understanding of biodiversity, biology, and conservation. What an exciting time to be a shark biologist!

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Aerial Robotics (University of Pennsylvania)

This course gives students an introduction to the mechanics of flight and how to design quadrotor flying robots.

For the Tech Geek:


Introduction to Computer Science (Harvard)

One of the top-rated online courses, this beginner’s guide to computer science teaches students to solve problems efficiently and think algorithmically, with or without programming experience.

Gamification (University of Pennsylvania)

Level up on your gamer status by learning how to solve problems in non-game fields such as business and social impact challenges using digital game design techniques and elements.

The Computing Technology Inside Your Smartphone (Cornell University)

Have you ever been so engrossed with your iPhone that you wanted to take it apart and put it back together? This computer science course helps you do exactly that by helping you navigate through the fundamental layers of computing technology.

Artificial Intelligence (Columbia University)

The course aims to provide you with an understanding of basic techniques and how artificial intelligence is applied to solve real world problems.

For the Design Geek:


Animation and CGI Motion (Columbia University)

If you want to create the next animated Disney hit, then by all means, click through.

Designing Cities (University of Pennsylvania)

Modules in this course will focus on every aspect of city design, from its history to its preservation, and creation of visionary cities.

Creation of Artifacts in Society (University of Pennsylvania)

Learn the theories and practices that will make you a better designer. The modules are rooted in the fact that design is a human activity.

For the Music Geek:


Introduction to Classical Music (Yale University)

Know your Bach from your Mozart.

Music and Social Action (Yale University)

How exactly can music change the world? Find out how musicians can serve.

Reinventing the Piano (Princeton University)

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Topics range from where musical scales come from to the choices pianists need to make when tuning their instrument.

The History of Music Production Techniques (Columbia University)

Learn how the music industry’s game changers have thrived and established their iconic sounds.

For the History Geek:


Paradoxes of War (Princeton University)

Rather than trying to justify war as a human act, teachings will argue that war plays a significant role in building our identity.

The Civil War and Reconstruction: A New Birth of Freedom (Columbia University)

Examine the individual and overall engagements of the Civil War and it affected the Union and the Confederacy politically, socially, and economically.

Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You (Harvard)

 Have you ever wondered how museums are curated and why this artifact is next to that? This course allows you to study some of the valuable objects housed at Harvard and study how to sense history through tangible objects.

For the Literature Geek:


Greek and Roman Mythology (University of Pennsylvania)

The difference between Venus and Aphrodite and how these ancient myths may turn out to be subtle codes for a greater universal truth.

Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) (University of Pennsylvania)

Another one of the highest ranked online courses, this one focuses on modern and contemporary poetry, particularly experimental verse. Sample readings include works of Emily Dickinson to Walt Whitman to present poets.

Ancient Philosophy: Plato & His Predecessors (University of Pennsylvania)

How does philosophy differ from other modes of human discourse? The course tracks the history of the first philosophers' influence on Western thinkers.

American Renaissance: Classic Literature of the 19th Century (Dartmouth)

What exactly is the American Renaissance and why should we concern ourselves with it? The course outlines continuities and discontinuities in historical literary works and current ones.

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For the Socially Aware Geek:


Justice (Harvard)

This introduction to the value of justice comes in videos and discussion forums in multiple languages. Classes will touch on same-sex marriage, roles of the market, debates on human rights, income distribution, and many others.

Moral Foundations of Politics (Yale University)

After starting the course with major political theories, such as Marxism, Utilitarianism, and social contract, the class will answer the question, "When does a government deserve our allegiance?"

JuryX: Deliberations for Social Change (Harvard)

As citizens of a nation, what is our role in the law? All these issues we face now start with us. The course allows us to engage in social discourse reasonably. Practice your law skills by participating on a virtual jury in a mock criminal case.

Revolutionary Ideas: Utility, Justice, Equality, Freedom (University of Pennsylvania)

Study political and legal institutions and the ideas they are founded on to better assess whether the state is fulfilling its duties to its people and if it is the kind of state we should have.

h/t Medium

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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