I can certainly appreciate that many of us spend too much time reading news and opinion, seeking firmer footing amidst alarming current events. But let us not neglect our intellects, and become easier marks for the con-artists constantly preying on our attention. As we try to do our best at Open Culture to show week after week, despite creeping online toxicity, the web is still a great place to get an education on virtually any subject, often up to the college and graduate level, often for free, and on your own time/at your own pace. Learn a language, learn to play an instrument, learn physics, math, biology, philosophy, read novels and poems, hear symphonies, see the world’s museums….
Or here’s another option for you: Watch 94 half-hour lectures on the Great Courses YouTube channel. As we have told you before, the Great Courses Plus (now called Wondrium) is a video subscription service that lets you watch free courses across a wide range of subjects, all taught by some of the best lecturers in the country. The topics cover everything from literature, physics, history and economics, to math, photography, cooking, drawing, stress management, and “How to Grow Anything.” If you want to watch complete courses from the Great Courses Plus/Wondrium, feel free to try sign up for a free trial. But if you’re looking for something a little less sustained, then the 47 hours of free lectures on Youtube might have some good options for you.
For example, learn the history of the Islamic Golden Age, British India, the Fall of the Roman Empire, or the Ottoman Empire during World War I. And learn about the political imagination of earlier periods in history, such as the first Gilded Age, at the end of the nineteenth century, a period of staggering economic inequality and dizzying industrial development. That’s when Edward Bellamy published his 1888 Looking Backward, a futurist utopian novel set in the year 2000, drawing on Marx and utopian socialist Charles Fourier.
Bellamy foresaw a technologically advanced American utopia that reflected, he wrote, “the true self-interest of a rational unselfishness, and [appeals] to the social and generous instincts of men.” His book became the top-selling novel of the 19th century after Uncle Tom’s Cabin and kicks off a lecture on “Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature” offered by the Great Courses and taught by Professor Pamela Bedore of the University of Connecticut. See her lecture at the top of the post, then leap to an entirely different academic frame with a talk on “Two Prototype Theories of Everything” by Don Lincoln, Senior Scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, further up, or on Astrophysics, just above, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
You can even learn to play guitar, or at least get a 30-minute lesson on how to practice, with Colin McAllister, above. Take a look at all 94 of the Great Courses free video lectures on their YouTube channel here. And again find out how to sign up for a free trial to watch complete courses here.