Thinking Aloud: Free Online Courses Starting Soon

Apr. 20, 2015 by Darius 

Here are a few free online courses starting soon that some of you might find interesting:

  • “Understanding the UK’s 2015 General Election” taught by Professor Alan Convery of the University of Edinburgh.

Class description: “This course provides an overview of the United Kingdom’s 2015 general election.  Join us right up to and through election night as we explore the politics, issues and numbers that give British politics its enduring appeal.  This year’s election is one of the most exciting and unpredictable in recent memory.  Old Westminster certainties like majority governments and the two-party system seem to be under increasing strain.  Meanwhile, the implications rise of the Scottish National Party and the decline of the Liberal Democrats are still unclear.  The course is designed both as a general introduction to UK politics for people all over the world and as a place for British citizens to come to find the information they need to make an informed choice.  With expert commentary from Edinburgh University academics, we will try to shed light on the issues at stake, the electoral system and the territorial implications of this election.  This course is unique because it happens in ‘real time’: we will change the course in response to events in the UK and your feedback.  Tell us what you want to know and we’ll try to include it in the course materials and in our weekly interactive live-streamed seminar Q&A.”

This class starts on April 27.  You can sign up at https://www.coursera.org/course/ge2015

  • “Analyzing Global Trends for Business and Society,” taught by Professor Mario Guillén of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Class description:  “The world is changing rapidly.  Populations are ageing, people are moving from the countryside to the cities, there are more people suffering from obesity or who are overweight than people who go hungry, and the middle-class is growing fast in the emerging economies while it is shrinking in Europe and the United States.  These forces are putting pressure on governments around the world as they seek to cope with the consequences.  The race for energy, natural resources and food is intensifying, and the global financial architecture based on the U.S. dollar is seriously out of whack with the new realities of the 21st century.  Expect to learn about these and other global trends in this class.  Be ready to realize how fast the world is changing, and what are the consequences for markets, businesses, and society at large.  Learn how to analyze global trends, understanding their magnitude and how they are related to one another.  Realize how the world can cope with massive change.”

This class starts on May 4.  You can sign up at https://www.coursera.org/course/globaltrends.

  • “Federalism & Decentralization: Evaluating Africa’s Track Record” taught by Professor Jan Erk of Universiteit Leiden.  

Class description: “In this political science course you will learn about the twin concepts of federalism and decentralization.  You will develop an understanding of the core ideas that federalism and decentralization rest on, and study the building blocks that make them both work.  Following a general overview of both federalism and decentralization, we will examine a number of case-studies from Africa where federalism and decentralization have been changing the continent’s political landscape in the last twenty years, coinciding with unprecedented levels of economic growth.  During the course’s duration of 6 modules you will be provided with an explanation of the basic concepts and themes in the study of federalism and decentralization and will be given an overall survey of the federal experiences around the globe – particularly in the developing world.  It is especially in the African context that the course will seek to expose some of the important issues around federalism and decentralization.  By the end of the course, you will have acquired a general knowledge of federalism/decentralization and additional empirical knowledge of a number of African cases.  Upon completion you will also acquire the ability to unpack and understand a variety of potential consequences of federalism/decentralization reforms in the developing world.”

This class starts on June 8.  You can sign up at https://www.coursera.org/course/federal.

  • “Public Policy Challenges of the 21st Century,” taught by Professor Gerry Warburg of the University of Virginia.

Class description: “This course introduces class participants to the political significance and societal consequences of challenges facing U.S. and international policymakers.  It is designed to help participants develop skills to analyze policy proposals and advocate for their preferred options for issues on the public policy agenda ahead.  The class assumes basic knowledge about governing institutions and democratic processes, while recommending supplemental materials for further study to complement reading links provided.  The course focuses on future policy challenges, while examining the broad historical context in which policies are adopted and implemented.  As the course evaluates how issues are advanced by private sector interests, non-governmental organizations, and government policymakers, it examines how groups become effective policy advocates. Particular attention is paid to how winning coalitions are formed and how issue framing shapes the outcome of policy campaigns.  The goal is neither to produce partisan talking points, nor to favor one governance philosophy over others.  Rather it is to clarify the public policy challenges ahead and to enhance participants’ understanding of how policy options are adopted in the real world arena of contemporary politics.”

This class is open and has no start date.  You can sign up at https://www.coursera.org/learn/public-policy.

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