Keep your mind sharp while social distancing: These Yale resources can help

Stay engaged and stimulated with Open Yale Courses, online tours and exhibitions, and podcasts.
A woman at home using her laptop

(Photo credit: Dan Renzetti)

With social distancing mandates in effect across the country, millions of Americans are preventing the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding groups of people and hunkering down at home.

But distancing, while an effective public health policy, can lead to boredom and feelings of loneliness, experts note.

Yale University offers a variety of online resources to keep your mind sharp and stimulated while you’re keeping safe by staying home. There are still plenty of ways to take a Yale class, explore the university’s cultural treasures, and engage with ideas from its community of leaders and academics — virtually. Here are just a few of them.

Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses provides free, open access to introductory courses taught by distinguished Yale scholars. Each course includes lectures recorded in Yale College classrooms along with related course materials like readings, syllabi, in-class handouts, and assignments.

Among the nearly 40 available courses are “Modern Poetry” with Langdon Hammer, “Financial Markets” taught by Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert J. Shiller, “The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877” taught by David W. Blight, “Introduction to Psychology” with Paul Bloom (and guest lecturer Peter Salovey), and W. Mark Saltzman’s “Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering.”


In addition to Open Yale Courses, many courses by Yale teachers and researchers are available online through Coursera.

The Science of Well-Being’

Coursera offerings include an online version of Yale’s most popular course: “The Science of Well-Being” with Professor Laurie Santos. The class provides “a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits.”

2019 DeVane Lectures: ‘Power and Politics in Today’s World’ with Professor Ian Shaprio

Originally presented in fall 2019, Ian Shaprio’s course of DeVane Lectures — open  to Yale College students and to the general public in person at the time — is free and fully available online. The course tracks the trajectory of world events from the fall of Communism in the early 1990s through the rise of authoritarianism today and the prospects moving forward. Online resources include lecture videos and slides, assignments, and pre-recorded “virtual office hours” with Shapiro and his teaching assistant. 

Yale Cardiovascular Medicine: Online educational opportunities and resources

From global research consortiums to telemedicine, the coronavirus continues to alter the practice of medicine. This comprehensive list of lectures and courses touches on the future of medicine and the successes and failures of the early-twentieth and twenty-first century pandemic responses.

Virtual gallery tours

Tour Yale’s art galleries from home with mobile apps from the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art. Offering virtual tours of highlights, interactive maps, art search, research resources and more, these virtual galleries provide the next best thing to being there.

Looking for a tour that’s a little more grounded? Explore minerals and gems in the Peabody’s David Friend Hall with this student-developed mobile app.

Yale University Library digital collections

Browse the Yale library system’s extensive digital offerings, including online collections from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Cushing/Whitney Medical Digital Library, the Yale Manuscripts and Archives Digital Library, and others.

Whether you’re curious about Persian medical texts, music theory, the history of New England’s Native American peoples, or the career of Henry Kissinger, there’s something in the library’s digital collections for you.


Need something to focus your mind while you’re tidying the house or hitting the stationary bike? The Yale Podcast Network collects podcasts from across campus and across disciplines. For example:

  • President Peter Salovey sits down with students, scholars, athletes, and other leaders from across the university in his “Yale Talk” podcast.
  • In “Never Delegate Understanding,” cardiologist Harlan Krumholz talks about ways that people can be more engaged as patients and more active in making health decisions.
  • Academics, activists, and chefs discuss their work to reimagine mainstream food movements on “Chewing the Fat.”
  • Experts from Yale’s Office of Career Strategy address common career frustrations and offer thoughtful advice on jobs, internship, and more on “Take This Job and Love It!
  • The official podcast of Yale Athletics, “This is Yale” brings Bulldog fans exclusive interviews with student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and alumni.

Wellness and self-care

Social distancing is great for protecting public health, but it can strain one’s individual mental health. Yale Well offers a variety of tools and resources for supporting wellness and self-care. Find stress relief strategies from Yale Health, links to guided meditation exercises, and more.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offer guidance for managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Part of the In Focus Collection: Yale responds to COVID-19

Media Contact

Fred Mamoun:, 203-436-2643