School of Music launches ‘Music and Social Action’ Coursera course

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Pictured from left to right: Robert Blocker, dean of the Yale School of Music; Sebastian Ruth, the Yale College Class of 1957 Visiting Professor of Community Engagement; and Michael Yaffe, associate dean at the School of Music

The Yale School of Music launched its first massive open online course (MOOC), titled “Music and Social Action,” on Yale’s Coursera platform Feb. 22. Taught by Sebastian Ruth, the Yale College Class of 1957 Visiting Professor of Community Engagement, the course explores questions about musicians’ responses to the condition of the world.

The course, which took 13 months to develop, is being offered in an “on demand” format, and as such does not have to be viewed sequentially. “This process has deepened my own understanding of this material and has presented an interesting challenge to think through what makes compelling learning online,” says Ruth. “We hope we have crafted a learning experience that is rich and three dimensional.”

Some of the topics that the course will explore include:

  • How can classical music effect social change?
  • How has music made positive change in communities around the globe?
  • What can the field of classical music learn from other movements for social change?
  • How have educators and philosophers thought about the arts and their connection to daily contemporary life?

A MacArthur Fellow, Ruth is the founder and artistic director of Community MusicWorks, a nationally recognized organization that connects professional musicians with urban youth and families in Providence, Rhode Island. His appointment is part of the Music in Schools Initiative, an ongoing program of activities that include educational collaborations with the New Haven Public Schools, a biennial Symposium on Music in Schools, and the Morse Summer Music Academy, in addition to the visiting faculty post. Through this initiative, numerous graduate teaching artists work with full-time certified music teachers in the New Haven Public Schools and teach in the All-City Honors Ensembles and other after-school programs.

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