Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Free Medieval History Courses

Several universities are putting complete courses online for free now. Visitors can peruse course materials and watch lectures even if they do not get any academic credit for it. MIT is probably the best known for this but some other schools are as well including Notre Dame and the University of Washington.

Here are three example courses dealing with medieval history:

Medieval Economic History in Comparative Perspective - This MIT course is from the fall of 2006. The course features an extensive list of readings and assignments. A list of useful Web sites is also available in the related resources section. This course also features archived syllabi from various semesters.

Europe's Awakening - This is an Open University course in the UK. The site notes, "One of the most remarkable features of modern European history is the gradual emergence of that theoretical reasoning and experimental practice focused on the natural world that today we call science. In this unit we throw light on that eventual emergence of modern science in Europe by examining its beginnings in Greece and making comparisons with the early achievements of Chinese and Islamic science.You then return to medieval Europe in order to understand the intellectual and social origins of what has been called the 'scientific revolution'."

The Dark Ages - This UMass course is from the Summer of 2008. Beginning with the decline of the Roman Empire, this course discusses German, Muslim, Viking and Magyar invasions, the development of Catholicism in Western Europe and of Eastern Orthodoxy in the Byzantine Empire, the Arabic contribution to mathematics, science, and philosophy and the institutions of feudalism and manorialism. The course concludes with the economic, demographic and urban revival which began around 1000 AD.


Joel said...

I have searched around on the open courseware classes the the "Dark Ages" course. I have not been able to find lectures to download for most of the open courseware classes. Am I missing something?

M said...

The lecture notes are not in the Dark Ages course. The assignments and discussions are there but this course is not as useful as it could be.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see more lectures/seminar presentations posted online - as text, prefereably as audio or better still as video. There have been some promising starts, but it's still very patchy. Academia does need to drag itself into the electronic age a bit more. A few potential students may decide to just do it at home, but more will doubtless be enthused to persue qualifications. The technology's there, let's use it.

- Dave P

Joy E said...

The best source I've found so far is taking The Teaching Company courses out of the local library. The topics are spotty, depending on what our library system can afford and chooses to buy. But the lectures are generally excellent and backed up with an enclosed book with questions about the topic, and so forth. I too am disappointed in the lack of lectures on most of these "free" sites.