Yale Doubles Number of Free Online Courses

Eight new courses in history, economics, literature and biomedical engineering taught by leading faculty have been added to “Open Yale Courses,” the University’s free online education initiative.

The courses, which were recorded in their entirety as they were taught to Yale College students in the classroom, are available in video and audio formats. Closed captioning is offered for each course, and that feature has been added to the seven courses that were made available when the award-winning Open Yale Courses was launched in December 2007. In addition to complete, searchable transcripts, the Internet courses include syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets and other materials.

Anyone may download the video or audio files of Open Yale Courses or watch and listen to them streamed on the web at their convenience. There is no registration required and the courses are not for credit. Open Yale Courses may be accessed at:


Open Yale Courses is one of the most frequently visited Yale websites, with more than half a million unique visitors from 187 countries having accessed the site since its debut. Faculty members around the world are using Open Yale Courses to teach their students in such locations as the University of Bahrain, the Instituto de Tecnologia de Buenos Aires, Tec de Monterrey in Mexico and Bogazici University in Turkey.

“We are pleased that so many people from around the globe have explored Open Yale Courses, whether they are students, teachers or those who just have a passion for a particular subject,” said President Richard C. Levin. “Making part of the Yale classroom experience accessible beyond the campus through the available technology is a significant emphasis of our growing digital presence.”

The new courses and their instructors are:

  • Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering, W. Mark Saltzman (BENG 100)
  • Game Theory, Benjamin Polak (Economics 159)
  • Financial Markets, Robert Shiller (Economics 252)
  • Milton, John Rogers (English 220)
  • The American Novel Since 1945, Amy Hungerford (English 291)
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, David Blight (History 119)
  • Introduction to Ancient Greek History, Donald Kagan (Classics 205)
  • France Since 1871, John Merriman (History 276)

“We now offer 15 courses reflecting the broad liberal arts education provided by Yale College to anyone with an Internet connection,” said Diana E. E. Kleiner, Dunham Professor of the History of Art and Classics and the director of the project. “We are maximizing the use of these courses through a Creative Commons license and our outreach efforts to academic institutions around the world.”

To encourage the widest possible use of the courses, the license that covers most of the lectures and other course material on Open Yale Courses is Creative Commons’ Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. This license permits the free use or repurposing of the Open Yale Courses material by others. Under this license, users may download and redistribute the Open Yale Courses material, as well as remix and build upon the content to produce new lectures or other educational tools. The only restriction is that commercial use of the Open Yale Courses material is not allowed.

Regional Educational Advising Coordinators for the U.S. State Department featured Open Yale Courses in their annual advising workshops. The department’s American Corners program has made Open Yale Courses available throughout its network of more than 300 locations around the world.

The production of the free courses for the Internet was made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “The growth of Yale’s Open Course offerings is a boon to learners everywhere and signals an important step toward the Foundation’s goals when we helped launch the Open Educational Resources movement more than four years ago,” said Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest.

Yale plans to add more courses to the project in the coming years. The Open Yale Courses project is produced and supported by the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation (CMI2), which promotes the innovative use of technology to enhance learning at Yale and beyond.

Yale will be presented with an Innovation Prize at the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership’s 21st Annual Conference on Quality and Innovation in November. The partnership is a nonprofit corporation that brings together the private sector, state and municipal government, and the educational community to recognize organizations for their accomplishments.

Media members may download broadcast-quality video clips and high-resolution photos from the courses via the media kit on the Open Yale Courses website.

About the Faculty Who Teach the New Courses

David W. Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including “A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory” (for which he received the Bancroft, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass prizes), and “Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War.” He is also the co-author of the bestselling American history textbook, “A People and a Nation.

Amy Hungerford is professor of English and associate director of undergraduate studies in the Department of English at Yale University. She specializes in twentieth-century American literature with an emphasis on the period following the Second World War. The founder of the Post-Modernist Studies Association, she is currently the editor of Yale Studies in English. Professor Hungerford’s articles appear in the Yale Journal of Criticism and Contemporary Literature. Her book “The Holocaust of Texts: Genocide, Literature, and Personification” was published in 2003 by the University of Chicago Press.

Donald Kagan is Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University. A former dean of Yale College, he received his Ph.D. in 1958 from Ohio State University. His publications include “The Archidamian War,” “The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition,” “Pericles and the Birth of the Athenian Empire,” “On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace,” and “The Peloponnesian War.” In 2002 he was the recipient of the National Humanities Medal and in 2005 was named the National Endowment for the Humanities Jefferson Lecturer.

John Merriman is Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale University. Specializing in French and modern European history, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His publications include “The Agony of the Republic: The Repression of the Left in Revolutionary France, 1848-1851”; “A History of Modern Europe Since the Renaissance” and “Police Stories: Making the French State, 1815-1851.” He is currently at work on “Dynamite: Emile Henry, the Café Terminus, and the Origins of Modern Terrorism in Fin-de-Siecle Paris.” In 2000, Professor Merriman was the recipient of the Yale University Byrnes-Sewall Teaching Prize.

Benjamin Polak is a professor of economics in the Department of Economics and the School of Management at Yale University. He received his B.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge University, his M.A. from Northwestern University, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. A specialist in microeconomic theory and economic history, he has published in Economic Letters, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Economic History, Journal of Legal Studies, Journal of Theoretical and Institutional Economics, and Econometrica. His current projects include “Inequality in Many Dimensions: Criteria, Preferences and Measures” with Chris Shannon and “Small Trades During the British Industrial Revolution” with Steven Berry.

John Rogers is a professor of English at Yale University and former Master of Yale’s Berkeley College. Rogers received his B.A. and Ph.D. from Yale and is the author of “The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton,” which was awarded the Modern Language Association First Book Prize as well as the Milton Society of America’s James Holly Hanford Prize for Best Book. He is currently working on a book on Milton’s relationship to antitrinitarian heresy, entitled “Milton and the Heresy of Individualism.”

W. Mark Saltzman is the Goizueta Foundation Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Yale University. His books include “Drug Delivery: Engineering Principles for Drug Therapy” and “Tissue Engineering: Engineering Principles for the Design of Replacement Organs and Tissues,” and his articles have appeared in Biomaterials and Nature Materials. The chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Saltzman is also the recipient of numerous distinguished teaching awards from Yale, Johns Hopkins, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania.

Robert J. Shiller is Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics at Yale University and a Fellow at the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management. Specializing in behavioral finance and real estate, Shiller has published in Journal of Financial Economics, American Economic Review, Journal of Finance, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. His books include “Market Volatility,” “Macro Markets” (for which he won the TIAA-CREF’s Paul A. Samuelson Award), “Irrational Exuberance” and “The New Financial Order: Risk in the Twenty-First Century.”

In addition to the eight new courses, the original seven courses and their instructors are:

  • Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics with Charles Bailyn (Astronomy 160)
  • Modern Poetry, Langdon Hammer (English 310)
  • Death, Shelly Kagan (Philosophy 176)
  • Fundamentals of Physics, Ramamurti Shankar (Physics 200)
  • Introduction to Political Philosophy, Steven Smith (Political Science 114)
  • Introduction to Psychology, Paul Bloom (Psychology 110)
  • Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), Christine Hayes (Religious Studies 145)

Campus & Community