Some promising new courses

I had a lot of fun last week exploring the new Winter 2009 offerings from UC San Diego. Here are some promising courses you might want to check out. Important note: these courses will probably disappear from the UCSD podcast website by the middle of March 2010. Download them while you can…

The American Revolution (feed), Ryan Jordan, UCSD.
How revolutionary it was the American Revolution? How did the legacy of Britain’s earlier revolutions effect the men who made the break with Britain in 1776? Jordan is well organized and informative, and promises an interesting survey of this formative period.

The US Health Care System (feed), Leslie Lewis, UCSD.
Health care reform has been in the headlines since, well, forever. How did it get so messed up? What are the options for fixing it? Lewis is an entertaining and enthusiastic lecturer. Maybe she’ll have some answers.

History of the Byzantine Empire (feed) Matthew Herbst, UCSD.
Historian Matthew Herbst is a masterful lecturer who combines vast knowledge of his subject with dramatic delivery. He promises to answer questions like these: How did the Byzantine Empire managed to last 1000 years? What were the challenges it faced and surmounted? How does its legacy still affect us today? The syllabus is here.

The Political Development of Western Europe (feed), Victor Magagna, UCSD.
What conditions make it likely that an “young democracy” like Iraq can become a stable democracy? How did territorial rulers in Europe consolidate their power in the early modern period and create the modern nation state? These and other questions are addressed in this course. Magagna taught this course once before on podcast, but a number of lectures were missing. Now is your chance to catch the missing lectures, or to hear the whole thing if you missed it last time.

Cognitive Ethnography, (feed), Edwin Hutchins, UCSD.
Don’t let the strange title of this course put you off.  It’s about an interesting mix of anthropology and psychology.  Hutchins, an anthropologist who did fieldwork among the Trobriand Islanders, now specializes in the way people think in their everyday lives.  He wants his students to look at their own cultural assumptions with a critical eye, and learn how people solve problems and plan in the real world.See Studying cognition in the wild.

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One Response to Some promising new courses

  1. bcamarda says:

    Herbst’s course on the Byzantine Empire is proving to be superb. He also teaches some of UCSD’s “MMW” courses, including MMW4 (New Ideas/Clash of Civilizations) and MMW (Medieval Heritage). I’m now listening to last Fall’s MMW4 course with Herbst and it’s absolutely outstanding. Unfortunately it’s no longer posted online, but keep an eye out — he might teach it again in a future quarter.

    I’ve gotten in the habit of retrieving everything I can from UCSD every quarter via iTunes so I have it when they remove it. Now would be a great time to do that, with just a few weeks left in UCSD’s winter quarter.

    UCSD podcasting professors I also recommend: Jaime Pineda in neuroscience, Abraham Shragge in US history (in a recent quarter, he taught an absolutely fascinating course on the History of the American Suburb).

    Also quite good: Charles Chamberlain and Heidi Keller-Lapp in the MMW program; and Kathleen French on the Physiology of Exercise.

    Not recommended: Kevin Poole, on the history of US railroads. I was really looking forward to this one (UCSD has some outstanding specialized American history courses, like Shragge’s). But Poole can’t go five minutes without complaining about something. I gave up — the man is just too annoying.

    Poole notwithstanding, it is a privilege to share UCSD’s classrooms. I assume anyone who’s reading this has also discovered the magnificent course podcasts available at UC Berkeley and at Yale (“Open Yale”).

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