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  • The Art of Debate
    Course  |  The Art of Debate

    Professor Jarrod Atchison, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    The Art of Debate offers you the ultimate how-to guide for hashing out differences of opinion and making stronger arguments based on reason and compromise. In 24 stimulating lectures, Professor Jarrod Atchison of Wake Forest University helps you develop your command of logic, construct clear arguments, recognize the fallacies in others’ reasoning, and sharpen your own strategic thinking skills.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  The Art of Debate
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Hidden Value of Debate
      Find out what we mean when we talk about "debates," and how immersing yourself in the techniques of formal debate can have a dramatic impact on how you make decisions in every aspect of your life. From the business world to the bar room, the process of exchanging ideas will make you a better thinker and citizen. x
    • 2
      When and How to Use Debate
      Debate gives you an honest assessment of an idea, and is therefore a powerful decision-making tool. Here, Professor Atchison walks you through the structure of a formal debate and explores when debate can help you the most. As you will learn, big and future-oriented decisions are ripe for formal discussion. x
    • 3
      The Proposition: Choosing What to Debate
      Now that you know when to debate, shift your attention to what to debate. The "proposition"–the idea up for debate–is one of the most important concepts to understand, and in this lecture, you will survey how to structure the proposition most effectively-and consider who is making the ultimate decision. x
    • 4
      The Structure of Argument
      The claim, the evidence, and the warrant: these three elements provide the structure of a strong argument. Unpack each of these elements by studying what they are, how they work, and how they come together to produce an argument. Then home in on the warrant, which is often the most vulnerable part of an argument-and therefore the element easiest to challenge. x
    • 5
      Using Evidence in Debate
      Examine the strengths and weaknesses of three primary types of evidence: narrative evidence, empirical evidence, and evidence based on authority. As you review each type of evidence, you will see them in action as Professor Atchison applies them to debates about gun control, climate change, and physician-assisted suicide. x
    • 6
      Fallacies in Your Opponent's Research
      To be a great debater, you must not only learn to recognize argument fallacies, but you must also learn to combat them during the debate. This first in a two-part lecture series offers insight to help you identify fallacies that stem from flaws in your opponent's research, including the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, hasty generalizations, and more. x
    • 7
      Fallacies in Your Opponent's Arguments
      Continue your study of fallacies with a survey of fallacies that stem from the actual debate itself. To make their case, debaters often resort to false analogies, straw men, and ad hominem attacks. Fortunately, once you learn to recognize them, you will be well prepared to combat them and score points to win the debate. x
    • 8
      Elements of a Good Case
      No debate is won without consideration of the audience-of the ultimate decider or the judge. If you can't connect with this audience, you won't be able to win them over. After considering how to make such a connection, you'll then sharpen your skills in creating a well-researched case with enough nuance to argue your point. x
    • 9
      Arguing for the Affirmative
      The affirmative side of a debate must do three things: stay relevant to the resolution, indict the status quo, and offer a proposal designed to solve the problems you have identified with the status quo. Discover how to meet these obligations and build a winning affirmative argument. x
    • 10
      Building Affirmative Cases
      Now that you know how to develop a strong affirmative argument, apply your skills to a specific debate. Taking a resolution about campus carry laws as an example, Professor Atchison walks you through each of the steps to indict the status quo and offer a tenable solution to the problem. x
    • 11
      Arguing for the Negative
      A good critique is a necessary way of testing out an idea, but developing a good negative case requires immense creativity to disprove the affirmative argument. Delve into the key arguments available to the negative: the disadvantages of the affirmative case, counterproposals, and critiques of the affirmative's assumptions. x
    • 12
      Building Negative Cases
      The three-part attack from the previous lecture is an extremely effective way to challenge the affirmative proposal, but the arguments don't attack the affirmative case directly. Here, learn several approaches to confronting the affirmative case head-on, including "inherency," attacking the harms of the affirmative, and attacking the proposal's solvency. x
    • 13
      The Crucible of Cross-Examination
      Once each case is built, it's time for a cross-examination-a chance to interrogate your opponents to better understand their arguments, identify holes in their reasoning, and keep the audience engaged. This first of three lectures explores the history of debate and reflects on the goals of cross-examination. x
    • 14
      Asking and Answering Leading Questions
      Continue your study of cross-examinations with a detailed look at "leading questions." Useful for identifying holes in an argument, leading questions also represent persuasive arguments in and of themselves. Learn the rules of creating a good leading question and how they can help you win the debate. x
    • 15
      Open-Ended Questions: Setting Traps
      Round out your study of cross-examinations by turning to "open-ended questions." Designed to help you understand your opponents' arguments, open-ended questions give you the opportunity to shift your position, thus maximizing strategic flexibility. They also allow you to set traps for your opponent. Find out how to craft-and answer-open-ended questions. x
    • 16
      Essentials of a Persuasive Rebuttal
      No plan survives contact with the enemy, which means no matter how well you've constructed your case, you will need to defend it. Fortunately, there are several straightforward elements of a good rebuttal-assessment, organization, and emotional appeal-and Professor Atchison guides you through each element in this lecture. x
    • 17
      Dealing with the Unexpected in Debate
      We all need to deal with the unexpected in our daily lives, so learning the secrets to navigating the unexpected in a debate has far-reaching applications. Here, see what it takes to slow down, diagnose, analyze, and respond to unexpected arguments. By following a few simple steps, you can easily find your way back to terra firma. x
    • 18
      Even If Arguments: The Essential Weapon
      Now that you have explored the ways to build and defend a strong case, it's time to move on to varsity-level debate skills, starting with "even if" arguments. By starting with the premise that your opponent is right about everything, you can then explain why you should still win the debate-an extremely effective argument if performed well. x
    • 19
      Debate Jujitsu: Flipping the Warrant
      In many great debates, there is a devastating moment where one side clearly out-maneuvers the other. "Flipping the warrant," which requires the highest level of analytic argument, allows you to destroy your opponent's argument by showing that their proposal, rather than solving a problem, will actually make things worse. x
    • 20
      The Power of Concessions
      The best debaters understand the need for strategic flexibility, and concessions are one of the most powerful strategic moves in the playbook. As you will find out in this lecture, conceding points allows you to focus on your best arguments, or get out of a difficult spot, or even set a trap for your opponent. x
    • 21
      Conditional Argumentation
      Although they are two separate fields, the art of debate sometimes employs formal logic with great success. In this lecture, see how "conditional argumentation," a way of employing if-then statements to argue a point, lets you acknowledge a point without agreeing to it-a line of argument that pairs well with "even-if" arguments. x
    • 22
      Line-by-Line Refutation
      Conclude your study of advanced debate techniques with a survey of line-by-line refutation. First, learn how to map out the "flow" of a debate using shorthand. By distilling key ideas, you will be well prepared to respond to all points. Try to map out the "flow" of a test case here. x
    • 23
      Judging Debates: The Art of the Decision
      Debates aid decision-making, and you may one day find yourself in the role of a judge needing to make the big decision. Survey the best way to communicate your reasons for a decision, starting with a short thesis statement followed by an explanation of your reasoning. As an example, consider a nonprofit faced with a difficult business decision. x
    • 24
      Winning the Cocktail Party
      Formal debates have clear structures, but we often debate ideas in informal settings-unpredictable, complicated, ambiguous conversations with blurred lines between judges and participants. Conclude your course with a few handy tips for how to win a debate at a cocktail party-and when to bow out of the discussion. x
  • Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture

    Professor Andrew R. Wilson, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    A knowledge of China’s majestic empire is essential for any understanding of its present. In this course, you’ll discover what daily life was like for government bureaucrats, for scholars, for women of the court, for soldiers, merchants, craftspeople, emperors, concubines, poets, farmers, and many others—all set against the backdrop of the richness, the diversity, the genius, and the splendor of imperial China.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Opium, Trade, and War in Imperial China
      Begin by examining a pervasive symbol of late imperial China: opium. Learn about the history of opium use, the ritual of opium smoking, and the luxurious opium culture of the Chinese elite. Note how opium became inextricably linked with imperial culture, society, and economics. Chart the role of the British opium trade, the Opium Wars, and Chinese measures to eradicate the drug. x
    • 2
      The First Emperor's Terra-Cotta Warriors
      Uncover the story behind the famous terra-cotta warriors, one of China's most celebrated archaeological treasures. Travel into daily life in the Qin Dynasty, China's first empire; encounter the emperor Qinshi Huangdi, builder of the warriors, and observe his highly bureaucratic and technocratic regime. Explore the site of the terra-cotta army, and how the extraordinary clay figures were made. x
    • 3
      China's Early Golden Age: The Han Dynasty
      Enter the lives of the Han nobility—China’s second imperial dynasty—through their tombs, whose fabulous artifacts bear witness to their lavish lifestyle, diet, and concern for learning. Take account of the Han golden age, during which essential imperial institutions were established and Han territories were expanded. Also take note of the rise of a new and powerful scholarly elite. x
    • 4
      Amazing Ban Clan: Historian, Soldier, Woman
      Three extraordinary siblings stand out in China's imperial history. Follow the lives of Han-era twin brothers Ban Gu and Ban Chao, and their remarkable sister Ban Zhao. Investigate Ban Gu's life of learning and his important writing on history and governmental policy. Note Ban Chao's illustrious military career and achievements, and Ban Zhao's significant impact as a scholar, teacher, and poet. x
    • 5
      China's Buddhist Monks and Daoist Recluses
      Buddhism and Daoism played integral roles in the culture of imperial China. Learn about the origins of Chinese Buddhism, the monastic life in China, and the historic travels of the Buddhist monk Faxian. Then study the emergence of Daoism and its traditions of metaphysical exploration and the rustic, natural life, as seen in the works of Tao Yuanming, imperial China's first great poet. x
    • 6
      Cosmopolitan Chang'an: Tang Dynasty Capital
      Travel to the golden age of Chang'an, the medieval world's most resplendent city. Uncover its structure, its grand boulevards, and its stunning palatial, official, and religious architecture. Investigate the city's diverse population and its districts, parks, and pleasure quarters. Visit Chang'an's iconic Eastern and Western markets, and take account of the factors in the city's ultimate undoing. x
    • 7
      China's Grand Canal: Lifeline of an Empire
      Track the historical significance and changing fortunes of the Grand Canal. Beginning in the Sui Dynasty, explore the evolution and engineering of the canal system and its vital role in imperial economics, politics, and culture. Learn about its maintenance and management, its varied personnel, and how the health of the canal directly mirrored the political health of the empire. x
    • 8
      Triumph and Tragedy in Tang Poetry
      Delve into the aristocratic society of the Tang Dynasty and the particular social and political meaning given to poetry within this world. See how poetry of various genres was used within specific social contexts, in the example of court poet Wang Wei. Follow the fortunes of beloved Tang poets Li Bai and Du Fu, as they embodied the vogue and singular significance of poetry in Chinese culture. x
    • 9
      Life and Times of Song Dynasty Literati
      In the Song Dynasty, classical literacy and the civil service examinations were the path to official position. Here, trace the lives of two celebrated literati who emerged from this system. First meet Su Shi, passionate public servant, fun-loving style setter, and man of letters. Contrast Su's life with that of Zhu Xi, probing moral philosopher and architect of Neo-Confucianism. x
    • 10
      A Day's Journey along the Qingming Scroll
      This lecture reveals life in the Song Dynasty by means of the Qingming Shanghetu, a renowned painted scroll of the early 12th century. Reading the 17-foot scroll sequentially, travel through its vivid imagery of people, animals, buildings, vehicles, and landscapes, as it depicts scenes of daily life and conveys the remarkable technological, cultural, and economic sophistication of the Song. x
    • 11
      Peasant Life on the Yellow River
      Discover the vital farming communities of the Yellow River watershed. Study the culture of farming and rural society, and delve into how peasants lived—their dwellings, clothing, diet, work and gender roles, and family structures. Take account of the hardships faced by peasants through taxation and corrupt local officialdom and of the natural and manmade disasters that plagued rural populations. x
    • 12
      Rice, Silk, and Tea: South China's Peasants
      Learn about the process of wet-rice cultivation, as it shaped the daily lives of Southern peasants, from paddy preparation and irrigation to planting, weeding, and final harvesting. Then investigate tea growing and how peasants processed the leaves into different tea varieties. Finally, study Chinese silk production, taking note of the role of women in both the silk and tea industries. x
    • 13
      Genghis Khan and the Rise of the Mongols
      Look deeply into the life of Temujin, who became the fearsome Genghis Khan. Investigate the steppe culture of the Northern tribal warriors who would conquer China and their nomadic lifestyle of herding and raiding. Trace Temujin's phenomenal rise to power as he gathered massive legions of tribal followers, founding the Mongol Empire. Explore social and political life among the Mongols. x
    • 14
      The Mongols and Marco Polo in Xanadu
      The century-long era known as the Pax Mongolica was a time of extraordinary East-West trade and cross-cultural communication. Learn about this epoch through the remarkable journeys of Marco Polo and his family, the missionary Giovanni de Montecorvino, the Nestorian priest and diplomat Rabban Bar Sauma, and others, as they reveal the astonishing multiculturalism of the Mongol world. x
    • 15
      Admiral Zheng He's Treasure Fleet
      Take to the seas with Ming-era Admiral Zheng He, whose travels on behalf of the emperor Yongle were the stuff of legend. Witness life aboard Zheng's huge treasure ships, nine-masted behemoths laden with luxury goods. Follow the commander's seven voyages, as he plied the Indian Ocean and ventured to points beyond to proclaim the glories of the Ming court and to enlarge its cultural and economic power. x
    • 16
      China's Bound Feet, Brides, and Widows
      In exploring the experience of women in imperial China, learn about the customs surrounding traditional married life, such as the painful practice of foot binding, the process of betrothal and marriage arrangements, the wedding festivities, and the duties and lifestyle of a wife. Also investigate the social ideal of the chaste widow and its shadow, the luxurious world of courtesans. x
    • 17
      Ming Dynasty Trade and Spanish Silver
      Visit the teeming port of Manila, where the 16th century influx of Spanish silver made the city a vibrant hub of East-West exchange. Observe how the import of New World silver and crops to China sparked a remarkable period of prosperous living. Note the proliferation of restaurants, travel guides, fashion, leisure activities, commercial sex, and popular religion that characterized the era. x
    • 18
      The Great Wall and Military Life in China
      Delve into the lives of soldiers under the Ming, often incorrectly viewed as an un-martial dynasty. Learn about military culture, weaponry, and lifestyle under 14th century warlord Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty. Contrast this military era with that of the 16th century, when commercialization and technology gave rise to both the Great Wall and to remarkably modern Ming armies. x
    • 19
      Qing Dynasty: Soul Stealers and Sedition
      Witness the national hysteria that ensued from accusations that masons and other undesirables were stealing human souls. Investigate the public fear of sorcery, and the emperor's fear of sedition, which fueled the turmoil. Follow Emperor Qianlong's handling of the crisis, as it reveals the workings of the Qing justice system and the emperor's deep engagement with the empire's moral well-being. x
    • 20
      Emperor Qianlong Hosts a British Ambassador
      At the emperor's palatial summer residence in 1793, visit the imperial kitchens, as chefs and culinary workers from around the empire prepare a banquet of epic proportions. Learn about the staggering scale of the operation of the Imperial Buttery, which fed the emperor's household, and how a dazzling imperial feast served as the backdrop for a key diplomatic engagement. x
    • 21
      The Taiping Rebellion and Its Cult Leader
      The mid 19th century saw both foreign invasion and a revolt that sought to remake Chinese society. Follow the underlying social unrest in South China, and the rise of the charismatic leader Hong Xiuquan, who fomented a rebellion based in religious fanaticism. Observe the military prowess of the rebels, the massive size of the conflict, and how it unfolded as the bloodiest civil war in history. x
    • 22
      China's Treaty Ports
      Following the Opium War of 1842, a range of Chinese seaports were opened to foreign trade and foreign residence. Learn about the colorful history of these ports, how they became enmeshed in a global labor trade, and how they functioned as Euro-Asian hybrid cities. Grasp how the treaty ports were emblematic of a period of economic and political domination by foreigners. x
    • 23
      Experiencing China's Civil Service Exams
      For centuries, the imperial civil service exams selected candidates for important government positions. Trace the dramatic history of the examinations, which involved years of intensive study, a grueling testing ordeal, and life-changing benefits for the successful. Take account of the profound social and cultural significance of the exams and their role in the administration of the empire. x
    • 24
      China's Last Dynasty: Fall of the Manchus
      Finally, examine the factors that led to the dissolution of China’s empire. Contrast the powerful military machine of the early Manchu dynasty with its degradation by the 19th century. Grasp how the three pillars of Manchu power—its military, its cultural/economic influence, and its subjects’ loyalty—were systematically undermined, culminating in the abdication of the last emperor in 1912. x
  • Boosting Your Emotional Intelligence

    Professor Jason M. Satterfield, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    In Boosting Your Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Jason Satterfield teaches how to identify, monitor, and regulate your own emotions—instead of letting your emotions run the show—and how to manage emotions in others. With the skills you learn from this exciting interactive course, you will be able to improve your emotional intelligence (EQ) now and throughout your life. You’ll be able to use your emotions as you want, to help reach your own personal goals.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Boosting Your Emotional Intelligence
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
      Learn about the relatively recent emergence of emotional intelligence as a unique field of inquiry and the three leading theories used to describe and understand EQ. With your emotion journal, you'll start building your EQ Skills Tracker, a running library of what you learn in this course about your own emotions and a to-do list for future learning. x
    • 2
      Measuring EQ
      Measuring your IQ is straightforward, and the standardization of scores on the overall test and subtests are well established. But quantifying your EQ is a much newer and more complex endeavor. How can you measure your EQ and what will those results really tell you? Learn about the four most highly regarded EQ assessment tools and how they each rate with respect to validity and reliability. x
    • 3
      Exploring Emotions
      Although you’ve experienced emotions every day of your life, learning to manage them requires an understanding of how emotions are generated. Learn about the steps in this process and resulting feedback cycles as described in the Modal Model of Emotions. Does this model explain your “good” and “bad” emotions? You’ll be surprised. x
    • 4
      Embodied Emotions
      Do your emotions affect your physical body or do changes in your physical body cause your emotions? Learn which parts of your central and peripheral nervous systems contribute to the experiences we recognize as emotions. But if we really want to improve our EQ, we must also look at our cognition. x
    • 5
      Emotional Impacts
      You probably already realize that your EQ affects your most intimate relationships—your ability to choose appropriate partners and develop long-term satisfying and productive relationships. But the impact of your EQ doesn’t stop there. Learn how your emotions affect every aspect of your life, including your professional and social relationships, cognition, decision-making, and physical health. x
    • 6
      Perceiving and Expressing Emotions
      When speaking to someone in person, you pick up clues as to that individual's emotional state from the words used, the tone of voice, posture, and facial expressions. But what about self-perception? How good are you at perceiving and identifying your own emotions? Learn the EQ skills that can help you improve your understanding of yourself. x
    • 7
      Understanding Emotions
      What are the primary emotions and their associated thoughts and behaviors—emotions found across all cultures, languages, and income and educational levels? Learn how to perceive and correctly identify emotions and their triggers, and to explore the complex relationships between emotions we classify as positive and negative. x
    • 8
      Managing Your Emotions
      All of us have felt at times that our emotions were in charge and we were just helplessly along for the ride. Maybe we've hyper-reacted from a place of anger and fear. Or we've made poor and long-lasting decisions while riding a wave of euphoria. It doesn't have to be that way. Learn about antecedent-focused and response-focused emotion regulation strategies and how to employ them for your own benefit. x
    • 9
      Managing Others' Emotions
      As the famous joke goes, no one has ever become calm because another person ordered them to “Calm down!” But are there real ways we can influence another person’s emotions and consequent behaviors? Although we can never access anyone else’s cognition, the EQ skills we use in our communication and interaction with others can be powerfully influential. x
    • 10
      The Development of EQ
      Research has shown that while genetic makeup does play a role in our EQ, it also is significantly impacted by how we were parented and socialized as a young child. But even if childhood was not ideal and our parents modeled very poor EQ skills, see how it is always possible to improve EQ now through purposeful training. x
    • 11
      Emotional Intelligence Training
      Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is now taught in more than 30,000 schools across the U.S. because research has revealed a close relationship between emotions and learning. However, “a close relationship” is not the same as cause and effect. Explore several of the most popular SEL programs and their goals and strengths—and learn why outcomes are so difficult to measure. x
    • 12
      Social Intelligence
      We've all been in certain social situations we wish we could just forget: that awkward first date, the floundering job interview, the performance review that took us completely by surprise. Learn how to use your EQ to improve your social intelligence and strengthen social relationships in every aspect of your life. x
    • 13
      Intimacy and EQ
      The quality of your baby-caregiver relationship does affect your EQ skills and later relationships. But regardless of previous attachment styles, EQ training can teach you how to successfully express and perceive emotions—two necessary skills for successful adult intimate relationships. Learn how to understand your “habits of heart” and make appropriate adjustments to meet your goals. x
    • 14
      Interpersonal Conflict
      We are all aware that conflict exists between individuals or distinct social groups that see each other as “different.” Conflict is part of life, and groups of people are always going to disagree on some issues. But emotional and social intelligence skills can help us find common ground, address, and even solve many of our personal and community issues. x
    • 15
      EQ in the Workplace
      EQ skills can have a positive impact in any group of people working together toward a common goal. In addition to helping personal interaction among workplace teams, EQ skills have been shown to facilitate creativity, excitement, and enthusiasm in employees and leadership alike. x
    • 16
      Occupational Stress and Burnout
      Since 1995, work stress in the U.S. has increased 300 percent, with the most significant issues being depersonalization and disconnection. In many cases the use of EQ skills such as somatic quieting and improved concentration and focus can help. But could “love” be the newest way to lessen workplace stress? x
    • 17
      Leadership and EQ
      While companies spent $31 billion on leadership-training programs in just one recent year, more than 60 percent of respondents to the Global Human Capital Survey reported that such programs yielded only “some” value at best. Learn how EQ skills training is helping many business leaders better accomplish their long-term goals. x
    • 18
      Workplace Culture
      Being aware of EQ skills in all aspects of workplace culture can lead to greater workforce engagement with employees who feel seen, heard, and valued. But actively managing workforce culture isn’t just a “feel good” for employees. Explore why companies that proactively manage their culture experience average 10-year revenue growth 516 percent higher than those who do not. x
    • 19
      Stress Management
      Learn about the nervous and hormonal systems that cause our physiological responses to stress, and how they are related to chronic disease. Research shows that improving our EQ skills can help mediate these reactions in the body, possibly leading to both a safer stress response and better health overall. x
    • 20
      Emotion Regulation Disorders
      Heightened emotional experience—a common characteristic of anxiety and depression—could potentially be helped by EQ skills. Learn how Dialectical Behavior Therapy and the relatively new Emotion Regulation Therapy address certain common elements and skill deficiencies in a variety of “distress disorders,” regardless of specific diagnosis. x
    • 21
      Behavior Change and EQ
      If you’ve ever tried to change a significant behavior—quit smoking, lose weight, be more patient with your co-workers—you know how very difficult it can be. But you’ll be ahead of the game if you consider the role your emotions play in your behavioral choices and motivation. Learn how to improve your self-efficacy and develop a plan of “SMART” goals. x
    • 22
      Chronic Disease and EQ
      Medical professionals have long known that a patient's emotions play a key role in accepting and managing a diagnosis of chronic disease. But recent research reveals additional relationships between EQ and health-oriented behaviors. Explore the specific ways in which EQ can affect the management of two widespread chronic health problems: alcohol-use disorders and cardiovascular disease. x
    • 23
      Emotional Intelligence in Health Care
      Have you ever left a medical appointment feeling angry, frustrated, or even insulted? Whether it was the content of the meeting or the personalities involved that caused your frustration, you can learn how to improve your healthcare interactions by better understanding and monitoring your emotions—and those of your healthcare provider. x
    • 24
      The Future of Emotional Intelligence
      Does technology help or hurt our EQ? On the one hand, we all know the difficulty of accurately perceiving emotions when communicating by email, text, or other electronic platforms. But surprising advances in facial recognition, physiological response monitoring, and other software offer exciting and helpful futuristic options in the quest to improve our EQ. x
  • The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad

    Professor Joyce E. Salisbury, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    Spain has played a unique and pivotal role in Western civilization. In this course, you’ll learn its epic history, from its rule under Rome and the breathtaking drama of Islamic Spain to its emergence into the modern world, as well as its phenomenal contributions to art, architecture, literature, music, and learning. Travel with us to this remarkable culture, and savor the great human drama of the story of Spain.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      From Stones to Bronze: Prehistoric Spain
      Begin by exploring the origins of human settlement on the Iberian Peninsula. Learn how the rich spiritual life of early hunter/gatherers in Spain is reflected in magnificent cave paintings. Study the geography of the peninsula, and how it drew peoples from Africa and the Middle East. Finally, discover the extraordinary megalithic tombs of early Copper and Bronze Age builders. x
    • 2
      Celtic, Phoenician, and Greek Colonists
      Follow three remarkable immigrant groups who left their mark on Spanish culture. First, trace the impact of the Celts and the technology they brought to the region. Learn about the Phoenicians, famous as mariners, and their legacy of trade and engineering. Continue with the singular influence of the Greeks, who shaped the history and culture of the peninsula for future immigrants. x
    • 3
      Rome Conquers the Iberian Peninsula
      Roman conquest changed the peninsula in ways that endure today. Track the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, through which Iberia became part of the Roman Empire. Observe how Rome joined the Iberian provinces together, created thriving cities, and developed commerce. Learn about the marvels of Roman engineering, infrastructure, and mining, through which Spain grew rich. x
    • 4
      Christianity Comes to Hispania
      Witness the events through which Christianity took root on Spanish soil. Learn about early Christian communities in Spain, and the factors that led to persecution and martyrdom of Christians. Chart the role of Spanish churchmen in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, how pagan practices were transformed into Christian ones, and how Spain became a bulwark of church orthodoxy. x
    • 5
      Barbarian Tribes Divide the Peninsula
      As Rome's empire waned, Germanic and Iranian tribal groups besieged Spanish territories. Take the measure of these peoples, and the new agricultural technology, clothing, and other innovations they brought with them. Observe how they partitioned and ruled different areas of the peninsula, and how their culture and religion kept them separate from Spain's Roman population. x
    • 6
      The Visigoths Unite Spain
      As a prelude to the three-century rule of the Visigoths, learn how the Goths penetrated Roman territories, and how they came to dominate Spain. Study the structure of Visigoth society, which gave rise to influential legal codes, monasticism, and great scholars such as Isidore of Seville. Take account of Toledo as a center of learning, and the diffusion of Visigothic scholarship and culture. x
    • 7
      Islam: The New Religion
      Islam was to play a critical role in Spanish history. As background, delve into the founding of Islam by Muhammad, its five tenets or “pillars”, and how the new religion spread with astonishing speed. Witness the Muslim invasion that conquered most of Spain, and observe how the invaders ruled, coexisting effectively with Jews and Christians. x
    • 8
      Conflict within Islam
      Internal divisions in the Muslim world shaped Islamic rule of Spain. Investigate issues concerning the larger governance of Islam that led to enmity between Muslim Spain and the Caliphate in Bagdad. Study the role of the Frankish king Charlemagne in these conflicts, and trace conspiracies and rebellions within Muslim Spain that culminated in the establishment of the Caliphate of Cordoba. x
    • 9
      The Moors and the Glory of al-Andalus
      Relive the golden age of Islamic Spain, as the capital city of Cordoba emerged as a center of learning, art, and beauty. First, take account of the agricultural advancements and artisanal industries that underlay Cordoba's prosperity. Then, follow developments in music, poetry, intellectual life, science, engineering, and architecture that made al-Andalus famous throughout the world. x
    • 10
      The Christian Reconquista
      This lecture charts the centuries-long process by which Christians gradually reclaimed the lands of Islamic Spain. Learn how pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela became a catalyst for the Christian cause. Explore four critical events in the Reconquista: the conquest of Toledo, the taking of Valencia by “El Cid”, the creation of Portugal, and the final conquest of Granada. x
    • 11
      Medieval Spanish Culture
      Discover how the melding of Spanish Islamic culture and medieval Christian ideas produced dazzling masterpieces of architecture. Travel to the times of king Alfonso the Wise, whose rich court life fostered scholarship and medicine, as well as courtly entertainments such as music, sports, and bullfighting. Learn about the flourishing of trade, highlighting the complex wool and textile industry. x
    • 12
      The Sephardim: Iberian Judaism
      Follow the changing fortunes of the Jewish people on Spanish soil, beginning with how they arrived in Spain, and how they prospered under Roman rule. Trace repression of Jews under the Visigoths, and how Jewish scholarship and poetic art thrived in Muslim Spain. Then witness the trials of Jews under subsequent Christian rule, leading to the 15th century exodus of many Jews from Spain. x
    • 13
      Gypsy Influences on Spain
      Gypsy immigrants to Spain left a far-reaching imprint on Spanish culture. Here, uncover the origins of gypsy peoples, their itinerant nature, and note how they were originally welcomed by Spanish kings and nobles. Study subsequent oppression of gypsies, the nature of gypsy culture, and the iconic flamenco music and dance that is deeply linked with Spanish gypsies. x
    • 14
      The Growth of Catholic Religious Passion
      Grasp how Spain was brought into the conflict of the Protestant Reformation. Assess the Catholic Counter-Reformation, as it sought to connect the faithful more directly to God through reinvigorated spirituality and mysticism. Learn how the Council of Trent, codifying Catholic doctrine, led to the horrors of the Inquisition, and how Catholic theology was expressed in glorious Baroque art. x
    • 15
      Columbus and the New World
      European contact with the isolated Americas dramatically changed the world. Begin by delving into the self-education of Columbus, and the lead-up to his legendary voyages. Follow Columbus’s travels, and the impact of his “opening” of the New World. Finally, track further European ventures into the Americas, the Columbian Exchange of foodstuffs, and the devastation wrought by European diseases. x
    • 16
      Conquistadors and Missionaries
      Spain now extended both its empire and its Catholicism into the New World. Witness the exploits of Hernán Cortés, who battled the Aztec Empire in the quest for gold, and of Francisco Pizarro and his brutal subjugation of the Incas. Then, take account of the Catholic missionaries who followed, intent on converting native souls, and how Spanish empire building was undergirded by slavery. x
    • 17
      The Spanish Main: Trade Convoys and Piracy
      Spain's empire in the New World spawned a vast commercial revolution. Learn about Spanish silver mining in South America, and agricultural riches from giant haciendas producing sugar and tobacco. Follow the transport of Spanish goods in armed convoys, and the resulting golden age of piracy, as both pirates and government-sanctioned privateers preyed on treasure-laden ships. x
    • 18
      The Golden Age of the Spanish Habsburgs
      Here, encounter Spain's king Philip II, architect of a magnificent era. Observe his strategic moving of the royal capital to Madrid, and his creation of architectural works such as the fabulous El Escorial. Learn how Philip and his sons fostered an artistic heritage emblemized by visionaries such as the painter Velasquez, composers de Victoria and Guererro, and writers Lope de Vega and Cervantes. x
    • 19
      Religious Wars on Muslims and Protestants
      Now witness the Ottoman incursions against Christian lands and shipping that resulted in the massive naval battle of Lepanto. Then, see how the clash with Protestants involved Spain in religious bloodshed in the Netherlands, the assault on Britain of the Spanish Armada, and the Thirty Years War. Note how the ruinous costs of these wars prefigured the downfall of the Habsburg Dynasty. x
    • 20
      The 18th-Century Bourbon Kings of Spain
      Learn how the French House of Bourbon assumed the Spanish throne, and how they transformed Habsburg Spain. In particular, review the reforms instituted by Carlos III, highlighting his architectural and urban planning achievements, and his reforms of education, industry, banking, and religion. Then trace the effects on Spain of the French Revolution and the ascension of Napoleon. x
    • 21
      Spain Loses Its Empire
      Follow Napoleon’s crusade to impose a new French dynasty on Spain, and the cultural backlash of Romanticism that rejected the “universal” principles of the Enlightenment. Witness the emergence of Spanish nationalism, the ensuing deep political strife regarding how to govern the country, and see how the spread of nationalist ideologies culminated in the independence of Spain’s colonies. x
    • 22
      20th-Century Spanish Modernism
      Following World War I, Spain emerged at the forefront of a revolution in the European arts. Grasp the extraordinary innovations of the painters Picasso, Miró and Dalí, the architect Antoni Gaudí, and the contributions of musical masters Segovia and Casals. Also, delve into the political factors that led to the disintegration of Spain’s constitutional monarchy. x
    • 23
      The Spanish Civil War and Franco's Reign
      Study the political antagonisms within Spain which led to the outbreak of civil war in 1936. Track the unfolding of the war, leading to the ascension to power of the dictator Francisco Franco. Then take account of Franco's lengthy, authoritarian regime, and how he strove to create a national identity for Spain through the mediums of the church, language, and Spanish culture. x
    • 24
      Modern Spain: Still on a Crossroad
      Conclude with reflections on Spain's recent history. Look into such subjects as the restoration of the Spanish monarchy, Spain's contemporary links with Latin America, separatist movements within the country, its new secularism and religious freedoms, its popularity as a travel destination, and its diverse economy. Contemplate why this great land stands on a crossroads of the future. x
  • The Ottoman Empire
    Course  |  The Ottoman Empire

    Professor Kenneth W. Harl, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    Join Professor Kenneth W. Harl for The Ottoman Empire: 36 enlightening lectures that investigate the nature of Ottoman identity, the achievements and oddities of the sultan’s court, and stories of confrontation and cooperation with the West.

    View Lecture List (36)
    36 Lectures  |  The Ottoman Empire
    Lecture Titles (36)
    • 1
      Sublime Porte: Visions of the Ottoman Empire
      How should one consider the vast history of the Ottoman Empire? Professor Harl sets the stage for the lectures to come with a consideration of key themes in the empire’s journey from “Sublime Porte” to “Sick Man of Europe” – as well as the distorting images of Orientalism. x
    • 2
      Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor
      Ottoman sultans traced their origins to the Oghuz Turks of the Central Eurasian steppes, whose nomadic ways of life were transformed by Islam. Follow along as the subsequent Seljuk Turks evolve from raiders to conquerors–and spark conflict with Western Europe’s religious pilgrims. x
    • 3
      The Islamization of Asia Minor
      First, learn how the Seljuk sultans created an Islamic Turkish Anatolia, which would become the heartland of future Ottoman sultans. Then, explore Seljuk developments in architecture, decorative art, and religion – including domed mosques, medresses (religious schools), and “whirling dervishes.” x
    • 4
      Ottoman Sultans of Bursa
      Meet the sultans who transformed the Ottoman sultanate into an imperial state. Among these: Orhan, who made Bursa the state’s capital; Murad I and Bayezid I, who incorporated Asia Minor into the Ottoman state; and “the Thunderbolt,” who forged an empire of tributaries in the Balkans and Anatolia. x
    • 5
      Defeat and Recovery, 1402–1451
      The defeat of Sultan Bayezid by Tamerlane at the Battle of Angora revealed the fragile nature of the nascent Ottoman sultanate. Focus on the empire’s recovery under Mehmed I Çelebi and Murad II, who made the empire into a bureaucratic monarchy and defeated the Hungarians at the Battle of Varna. x
    • 6
      Mehmet the Conqueror, 1451–1481
      Mehmet the Conqueror made the Ottoman sultanate a leading Muslim power by 1481. In this lecture, investigate his remarkable rule, which included the conquest of Constantinople, the remodeling of the Hagia Sophia as a mosque, and the construction of the grand, walled mini-city of Topkapı. x
    • 7
      Selim the Grim and the Conquest of Cairo
      In 1512, Selim emerged victorious from the ashes of a civil war and executed all challenges to his rule (earning him the sobriquet “the Grim”). Go inside Selim’s military campaigns against Iran, Syria, and Egypt, which helped make the Ottoman Empire virtually synonymous with the “house of Islam.” x
    • 8
      Suleiman the Magnificent, 1520–1566
      Suleiman the Magnificent presided over the zenith of the Ottoman Empire. You’ll learn how, during his 46-year reign, he expanded civil bureaucracy, waged a naval war in the Mediterranean against Habsburg Spain, and also altered the imperial succession–sowing what some historians consider the seeds of the empire’s downfall. x
    • 9
      Sultans in Topkapı, 1566–1648
      Turn now to a period of decline, most notable for the emergence of the harem as a powerful political institution. Meet sultans including Murad III, a patron of the arts (especially miniaturist painting) and Ahmet I, an ineffective 13-year-old who presided over the “Sultanate of Women.” x
    • 10
      The Sultan-Caliph and His Servants
      Ottoman sultans played two roles: as sultan/warrior and as the caliph of Sunni Islam. Here, unpack the role of the sultan in the Ottoman Empire, including his relationship with the ulema (religious experts), his central administration (called the Porte"), and with his viziers." x
    • 11
      Timariots, Peasants, and Pastoralists
      Between 1500 and 1800, the Ottoman Empire spread across more than 1 million square miles–but economic activity varied from region to region. Discover how groups like pastoralists and the Muslim gentry (timariots) played their own critical roles in the drama and resiliency of the rural Ottoman economy. x
    • 12
      Trade, Money, and Cities
      Trade was vital to the Ottoman Empire – as well as a cause for its decline from “Porte” to “Sick Man of Europe.” Trace some of the empire’s most prominent trade routes, including the iconic Silk Road, as well as the British penetration of Ottoman markets in 1838. x
    • 13
      Arabs under the Ottoman Caliph
      For 300 years, Ottoman Sultans ruled the majority of Arabs. How did “the Porte” successfully administer the diverse Arab provinces under its control? How did “the Porte” respect Islamic traditions? Why were the Arabs so loyal to the empire up until the early 19th century? x
    • 14
      Christians and Jews under the Porte
      Under the Ottomans, Christian and Jewish subjects were classified as dhimmi (“people of the book”) and were afford legal protection and the right to practice their faith. Explore daily life in some of the Christian and Jewish communities (millet) scattered across the empire. x
    • 15
      Sunni Islam and Ottoman Civilization
      Go deeper inside the details of Ottoman civilization. Among the topics you'll explore are the transformation of Turkish into a new literary language; the importance of calligraphy and miniaturist painting; intellectual developments in history and geography; and, finally, the cultural influence of the Sufis. x
    • 16
      Ottoman Constantinople
      What was Constantinople like under Ottoman control? Professor Harl shows how the empire became a veritable paradise among Muslim cities, with markets and mosque complexes, social activities and public spaces, and the grandeur of Topkapı, which you’ll see through the eyes of French Ambassadors sent in 1536. x
    • 17
      The Sultan at War: The Ottoman Army
      Sultans between the reigns of Murad II and Mehmet IV commanded one of the finest armies in Eurasia. Discover how the Ottoman imperial army matched Europe's best, how money was raised to meet the rising costs of war, why the Ottoman army suffered decisive defeats, and more. x
    • 18
      Sultan and Shah: Challenge of Safavid Iran
      The Ottoman Sultan and the Safavid Shah clashed frequently over strategic lands between the two civilizations. First, learn why Safavid Iran was the religious and ideological rival of “the Porte.” Then, examine five major wars the Ottomans waged against their rivals between 1514 and 1722. x
    • 19
      Sultan and Emperor: War in the West
      Visit the empire’s northern border in Europe to explore its military clashes with the West. Why was fighting in Central Europe so indecisive? Why did the Long-Turkish War prove so embarrassing for three sultans? How did “the Porte” come to ease tensions with the Habsburgs after 1605? x
    • 20
      Sultan and Venice: War in the Mediterranean
      Learn why Ottoman success at sea in the 1500s stemmed from Suleiman's strategic vision and the skills of his admirals. Along the way, you'll investigate Suleiman's war against Venice, the Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and battles with another European naval power: Portugal. x
    • 21
      Köprülü Viziers and Imperial Revival
      Professor Harl reveals how a dynasty of Grand Viziers and bureaucrats rescued the Ottoman Empire from factions and court intrigue, then guided the empire through various crises between 1683 and 1699, helping to end the ruinous war against Venice, as well as end political instability within the House of Osman. x
    • 22
      The Empire at Bay, 1699–1798
      In this lecture, learn why the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz is a turning point in Ottoman history–another that marked the empire’s steady decline into the “Sick Man of Europe.” Central to this lecture: the Ottoman military’s engagement with a powerful new Christian foe: Catherine the Great. x
    • 23
      Napoleon Invades Ottoman Egypt
      France's occupation of Egypt from 1798 to 1801 compromised the restoration of Ottoman rule in the country. And, as you'll learn, Napoleon's invasion also marked the first instance of the Muslim Middle East's encounter with modernity and political reforms based on the principles of the French Revolution. x
    • 24
      Crisis: Muhammad Ali and Balkan Nationalists
      Learn how Muhammad Ali exploited the confusion in Egypt after Napoleon's departure and, in 35 years, became the first successful Muslim ruler to transform Egypt into the literary and intellectual center of the Arabic-speaking world. Also, consider several Serbian and Greek revolts that rocked the Ottoman Empire. x
    • 25
      Tanzimat and Modernization, 1839–1876
      First, examine how the reforms of professional ministers led by Mustafa Reşid Paşa ushered in a massive reorganization (Tanzimat) of both the Ottoman State and Ottoman society. Then, consider how Tanzimat widened divisions within Ottoman society and failed to make the empire a member of the Concert of Europe. x
    • 26
      Defeat and Retreat: The Sick Man of Europe
      How did the Crimean War vindicate the reformers of Tanzimat? Why was the Treaty of Paris a strategic victory for “the Porte”—that came at a high price? What impact did the empire’s catastrophic defeat during the Russo-Turkish War have on its future with the Concert of Europe? x
    • 27
      The Sultan Returns: Abdül Hamid II, 1876–1908
      On December 23, 1876, Sultan Abdül Hamid II proclaimed the first Ottoman constitution. Eleven months later, it was suspended, along with its Parliament. Go inside this period of continued reform, which tied “the Porte” to an alliance with Germany and ultimately led to Sultan Hamid II’s downfall. x
    • 28
      Constitutional Reform, 1908–1913
      Turn now to the Second Constitutional Period, which raised hopes for imperial recovery and reform but ended with the domination of power by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Thus emerged a shadow government that became an unintended dress rehearsal for future one-party dictatorships. x
    • 29
      War in Libya and the Balkans, 1911–1913
      Discover why the Ottoman government was ill-prepared for both the Italo-Turkish War and the First Balkan War. Experience its stunning defeat by the improbable alliance of Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria. Learn why the Treaty of Constantinople almost assured the outbreak of another Balkan war. x
    • 30
      The Road to World War I
      Using recent research (based on Russian and Ottoman archives), learn why the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War. What role did the defeats of 1911–1913 play in the road to war? Why did Ottoman ministers negotiate favorable terms with Germany in exchange for entrance into the war? x
    • 31
      The Empire at Total War, 1914–1916
      Though it entered the First World War enthusiastically, the Ottoman Empire was not prepared for total war. In this lecture, focus on the empire's offensives against the Russian Caucasus Army and the Suez Canal, as well as its struggle against an impending British invasion in the Dardanelles. x
    • 32
      Ottoman Collapse, 1916–1918
      By 1916, the Ottoman Empire was fighting for its very survival. Professor Harl reveals the impact of the Russian Revolution on the war, the steady deterioration of the empire over the course of the fighting, and the army's ultimate collapse, which came suddenly and unexpectedly, in late 1918. x
    • 33
      Mustafa Kemal, Atatürk
      Meet the “father of the Turks”: Mustafa Kemal. By following his life and career, you’ll come away from this fascinating lecture with a well-rounded understanding of how he came to play such a decisive role in the modernization of Turkish civilization and the creation of the Turkish Republic. x
    • 34
      Casualties of War and Ethnic Cleansing
      The best estimate is that a total of 800,000 Armenians died between 1915 and 1921. In this powerful lecture, examine why the destruction of the Armenian community has come to be seen as the first in a series of similar events that would wreak havoc on the 20th century. x
    • 35
      The Emergence of the Turkish Republic
      Under Mustafa Kemal, Islamic tradition was seen as an obstacle to joining European civilization. How did Kemal and the Turkish Parliament approach the daunting task of transforming the imperial heartland into the Turkish Republic? How are Turks today wrestling with their Ottoman legacy? x
    • 36
      Nation-States, Islam, and the Ottoman Legacy
      Conclude with an insightful look at how the legacy of the Ottoman Empire still influences the Middle East–and will continue to do so in the future. Each of the empire’s successor states, you’ll learn, has its own perceptions of this legacy, and its own lessons learned from history. x
  • Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany

    Professor Catherine Kleier, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    If you look around right now, chances are you’ll see a plant. It could be a succulent in a pot on your desk, grasses or shrubs just outside your door, or trees in a park across the way. Proximity to plants tends to make us happy, even if we don’t notice, offering unique pleasures and satisfactions. In Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany, Dr. Catherine Kleier opens our eyes to the phenomenal and exciting world of plant life as she stresses the basic biology, function, and the amazing adaptations of plants.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Joy of Botany
      Although almost every child knows the difference between an elephant and a giraffe, few people of any age can name the plants they see out their window every single day. Solve this plant blindness" by learning about the fascinating lifeforms to whom we owe so much: oxygen, food, medicine, materials-but also fascination and joy." x
    • 2
      Plants Are like People
      Although our biology is significantly different than that of plants, scientists are discovering more and more similarities. We share quite a bit of DNA, thrive in moderate temperatures, have a circadian rhythm of rest and activity, require water for life, and can sense our environment and respond. Some scientists suggest that plants might even have developed a type of hearing."" x
    • 3
      Moss Sex and Peat's Engineered Habitat
      More than 425 million years ago, a group of plants called bryophytes developed two special adaptations that allowed them to inhabit dry land. Why are these early plants still so important today, both environmentally and commercially? And how does one of these most ancient species engineer its own habitat to the exclusion of more modern competitors? x
    • 4
      Fern Spores and the Vascular Conquest of Land
      Botanists still struggle to unravel the full evolutionary history of ferns, hardy plants of staggering reproductive and colonization power. With billions of lightweight spores produced by each individual and the vasculature to transport nutrients throughout the plant, ferns are found in low-light and bright-light environments from the arctic regions to the tropics. x
    • 5
      Roots and Symbiosis with Non-Plants
      Photosynthesis might be the star," but what takes place under the soil is just as imperative for plant survival. In fact, the root is so important that it's the first evidence of germination in the seed. Learn how roots physically support the plant, absorb water and minerals, and store carbohydrates, almost always relying on symbiosis with bacteria and fungi." x
    • 6
      Stems Are More Than Just the In-Between
      Learn how the pressure flow hypothesis models the movement of sugars through the plant's phloem and xylem, and what plant structures determine whether the organism will grow in height, girth, or both. And while the stem functions to support the plant's branches and leaves, in some plants the stem is also the site of photosynthesis. x
    • 7
      The Leaf as a Biochemical Factory
      Plants "know" when to shed their leaves or grow new ones via the same mechanism that causes the many developmental changes in our own bodies: hormones. Learn about the hormones that affect leaf growth and abscission -- and the role played by Charles Darwin in their discovery. x
    • 8
      Photosynthesis Everyone Should Understand
      Green plants generate their mass-whether the mass of the smallest blade of grass or the tallest tree on Earth-by synthesizing food from carbon dioxide and water via the energy from sunlight with the help of appropriate enzymes. See how the fascinating details of photosynthesis separate the plants from the animals. x
    • 9
      Days and Years in the Lives of Plants
      How do plants "choose" the best time to flower? Do they sense the daylight hours becoming longer in the springtime? Or do they sense the nights becoming shorter? Learn which pigments interact with sunlight to serve as chemical clocks for flowering plants and what roles are played by messenger RNA and temperature-including their part in climate change. x
    • 10
      Advent of Seeds: Cycads and Ginkgoes
      While spores have continued to provide effective reproduction through the millennia, evolution has led to several successful alternatives. In a little package of embryonic roots, stems, leaves, and nourishment, a seed offers the ability to lie dormant until conditions are right for the highest chance of survival. Learn about the unique properties of the cycads, gingkos, and gnetophytes. x
    • 11
      Why Conifers Are Holiday Plants
      Meet the conifers, well-adapted to snow, wind, fire, and low-nutrient soils. Learn how the unique properties of conifers allow them to claim the largest forest on Earth, the oldest living tree, and the tallest plant-with a growth rate of up to six feet per year. Conifers are also the source of one of the most prescribed cancer drugs on the market. x
    • 12
      Secrets of Flower Power
      Flowering plants arrived relatively late in geological time, between 290 to 145 million years ago. But once here, they evolved quickly and often displaced many other types of plants. In fact, in terms of species, flowering plants are the dominant plant form on Earth today with more than 300,000 types. Learn how their unique reproductive mechanisms led to this explosion of speciation in such a relatively short time. x
    • 13
      The Coevolution of Who Pollinates Whom
      Which came first-the pollen or the pollinator? Learn about the special evolutionary relationship between specific flowers and the insects, birds, and mammals that play a necessary role in plant reproduction. The flowers' morphology, color, and quality and quantity of scent are all related to their" animals' body shape, sense organs, method of movement, and more in this never-ending co-evolutionary tango." x
    • 14
      The Many Forms of Fruit: Tomatoes to Peanuts
      If you think you know the difference between a fruit, a nut, and a fungus-think again. Learn the real difference between nuts, fruits, and seeds, and why so many foods we eat carry misleading common names. As for those beautiful and tasty fungi, you might be surprised to find out they have more in common with you than with plants! x
    • 15
      Plant Seeds Get Around
      The evolution of the seed was a major advantage for land plants. But unlike gymnosperms, the flowering plants produce a fruit around that seed, aiding in germination, dispersal, or both. Learn about the many fascinating ways seeds are dispersed-from animal deposition, to wind and water dispersal, to seed explosion. x
    • 16
      Water Plants Came from Land
      Learn how seagrasses, mangroves, and other aquatic plants evolved to tolerate low light levels, anaerobic and nutrient-poor sediments, and the difficulty of getting CO2 into submerged leaves and stems. They also benefit surrounding ecosystems by keeping excess nutrients from the ocean, trapping river and ocean-floor sediments, and providing habitat and protection for animals. x
    • 17
      Why the Tropics Have So Many Plant Species
      From the shade-adapted plants living on the rainforest floor to the epiphytes in the top of the canopy-and the myriad plants and animals in between-tropical regions are the most diverse ecosystems on land. In fact, by some estimates, about 40 percent of all plants live in just the canopy of the tropical rainforest. Learn about the unique ways in which bromeliads, orchids, and lianas, among others, make their living" near the top of this diverse ecosystem." x
    • 18
      The Complexity of Grasses and Grasslands
      The grassland ecosystem-steppe, prairie, savanna, and rangeland-is found on every continent except Antarctica. Estimated to cover almost one-third of the land area of the planet, grasses developed unusual adaptations related to the location of their growth tissue and their specific mechanism of photosynthesis. Learn how these adaptations have allowed grasses to flourish and play a major role in the development of human society. x
    • 19
      Shrublands of Roses and Wine
      Not an herb and not a tree, shrubs' in-between status carries ecological advantages allowing them to grow almost everywhere-in the under-story of forests, above the tree line in alpine regions, and in the desert. Many are fire-adapted, some communicate through volatile organic compounds released by the leaves, and others exude chemicals from their roots that prevent other plants from growing nearby. x
    • 20
      The Desert Bonanza of Plant Shapes
      From tiny desert annuals, to 200-year-old 50-foot Saguaros, Joshua trees, and the baobab, deserts contain the largest variety of plant shapes on earth. Along with these multiple morphological adaptations to a lack of water, desert plants have also developed an alternative pathway to photosynthesis, opening their stomata at night, storing the CO2, and using it during the day with closed stomata, thereby avoiding daytime water loss. x
    • 21
      How Temperate Trees Change Color and Grow
      Trees-the largest, oldest, and tallest organisms on planet Earth-are a wonderful example of convergent evolution, with the form showing up in hundreds of unrelated plant families. While many trees are evergreen and others are drought deciduous, temperate trees lose their leaves in the winter because the trade-off of keeping a leaf from freezing doesn't offset the photosynthetic gain. But even after the leaves turn color and drop, the tree roots of some trees can still forage through the soil for nutrients. x
    • 22
      Alpine Cold Makes Plants Do Funny Things
      Alpine plants face a short growing season, freezing nights almost year-round, extraordinarily high light levels on cloudless days, fierce wind, and severe lack of moisture in some locations. Learn how the unique rosette and cushion morphologies allow alpine plants to thrive in this environment-as well as provide a sheltered place for other plants to germinate-and how heliotropism aids in pollination. x
    • 23
      Bad Plants Aren't So Bad
      About 600 species of plants eat animals. Others are outfitted with poison-injecting hairs you do not want to trigger. One plant provides a home for ants-a wonderful symbiosis, but not great for the animals who stroll by and take a bite. And then there are the everyday" poison oak, ivy, and sumac. But the real plants to fear? The invasive species that have taken over millions of acres, to the detriment of species diversity, animal habitat, and entire economic systems." x
    • 24
      Modifying the Genes of Plants
      Genetically modified organisms are in the news almost every day. They are lauded for solving numerous agricultural problems and reviled for their perceived Frankenstein" nature. But what is the truth about GMOs? Learn what scientists have accomplished, what might be possible in the future, and the very real dilemmas we face in this brave new world of plant science." x
  • The Science of Flight
    Course  |  The Science of Flight

    Professor James W. Gregory, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Taught by Professor James Gregory of Ohio State University, with commentary by Smithsonian curators and examples from the National Air and Space Museum, this course is a treasure trove for all who wonder where lift comes from, how a pilot flies a plane, what air traffic controllers do, and many other things about flight, including how rockets and orbits work. Extensive graphics make the concepts clear.

    View Lecture List (29)
    29 Lectures  |  The Science of Flight
    Lecture Titles (29)
    • 1
      Fundamentals of Flight: Gliding
      How did two world-class pilots coax their glider to a new altitude record? Focus on this feat as a lesson in the key principles of winged flight—including angle of attack, lift, drag, thrust, and weight. Also explore “the miracle on the Hudson,” when airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger glided his jet to an emergency water landing. Close your first lesson with an investigation of the control inputs: yaw, roll, and pitch. x
    • 2
      Balloons, Buoyancy, and the Atmosphere
      Balloons were the first vehicles to fly and Archimedes' principle is the secret of their lift-carrying power. Use the ideal gas law to determine air density and the hydrostatic equation to chart air pressure versus altitude. Then apply these concepts to lighter-than-air craft to learn how the Breitling Orbiter balloon was able to circumnavigate the globe non-stop. x
    • 3
      Takeoff: How Wings Produce Lift
      Lift is the fundamental force involved in winged flight. It is also fraught with misunderstanding. Debunk a popular but incorrect explanation of lift, known as the equal-time theory. Then gain a deep appreciation for the power of air flowing around an airfoil at differing angles of attack. Also examine Albert Einstein's misguided attempt to design a better airfoil. x
    • 4
      Drag Trade-Offs and Boundary-Layer Turbulence
      Focus on parasitic drag, a byproduct of moving an aircraft through the air, which has no practical benefit and is therefore like a parasite. Zero in on two aspects of parasitic drag: skin friction and pressure. Observe how these phenomena arise and how they can be reduced, which is a key goal of aircraft design. Learn about laminar flow as well as golf ball design. x
    • 5
      Stall Events and Lift-Induced Drag
      Aerodynamic stall occurs when lift suddenly decreases, causing drag to rise steeply. Consider the role of stall in several notable air accidents, and see a demonstration in which Professor Gregory deliberately pilots a plane through a stall, showing how to recover. Also look at technological measures to combat stall and the problem of induced drag. x
    • 6
      Wind Tunnels and Predicting Aerodynamics
      Starting with the Wright brothers, trace the role of wind tunnels for studying lift and drag on aircraft structures—research that sparked the rapid advancement of aviation. Aerodynamic research also involves analysis and computations. Get a taste of this process by analyzing conservation of mass, momentum, and energy as they relate to lift and drag. x
    • 7
      Propeller Aircraft: Slow and Efficient
      Apply concepts of lift and drag to propulsion, focusing on the internal combustion engine and propeller—still the most efficient power plant for aircraft flying at low speeds. Study the four-cycle engine and the design of propellers, which are rotating wings twisted to present an optimum angle of attack across their entire length. x
    • 8
      Jet Aircraft: Thrust to Fly Fast
      Propeller-driven aircraft drop sharply in efficiency at high fractions of the speed of sound. For sustained high-speed flight, a different propulsion system is needed—the jet engine. Trace the history of jets and their super-efficient variant used on commercial airliners—the high-bypass turbofan, a machine so intricate and beautiful that a piece of one is on display at the Museum of Modern Art. x
    • 9
      Aircraft Structures and Materials
      For anyone who gets the jitters during heavy turbulence, fear not: the plane is designed to take it! Follow the evolution of airframes from wood to metal to today's composite materials. Consider the problem of designing a sturdy structure that is still light enough to fly efficiently. Also look at tragic accidents that revealed the limits of certain materials and led to safer planes. x
    • 10
      Aircraft Stability and Flight Control
      Trace the quest for stable, controlled flight back to aviation pioneers Samuel P. Langley, the Wright brothers, and Glenn Curtiss. Stability means producing forces that restore an aircraft to equilibrium when perturbed, while control entails deflection of control surfaces to alter the pitch, roll, or yaw effects that act on the aircraft's center of gravity. x
    • 11
      Flying Faster and Higher
      Enter the realm of extreme flight, exploring how fast and how high a plane can go. The answers are remarkably precise and help define a given aircraft's flight envelope. Learn how aeronautical engineers calculate parameters such as airspeed for best climb angle, service ceiling, absolute ceiling, time to climb, stall speed, maximum speed, and speed for optimal cruise. x
    • 12
      Breaking the Sound Barrier and Beyond
      During and just after World War II, the quest for ever faster fighter planes reached an apparent natural barrier—the speed of sound. On approaching this limit, aircraft became unstable and uncontrollable. Discover how a new approach to aircraft design solved the problem of compressibility and shock waves in this transonic region, paving the way for supersonic flight. x
    • 13
      Long-Distance Flight and Predicting Range
      Planes take off with only the fuel required for the planned trip—plus a safety margin. Since there are no filling stations in the sky, the calculations must be precise, taking account of the plane’s performance characteristics, the weather, and other factors. Learn the equations that pilots use and hear a riveting story about what happens when they get it wrong. x
    • 14
      Aerobatics and Dogfighting
      Dogfighting is not just about stick-and-rudder skills; a pilot must understand the physics behind aerial maneuvering. Focus on turn performance, which is the key factor that limits maneuverability and is the cause of many fatal loss-of-control accidents. Learn how energy management is the secret of success in aerial combat, and get tips on performing a barrel roll. x
    • 15
      Mission Profiles and Aircraft Design
      Roll up your sleeves and learn how to design an aircraft, using an approach that has hardly changed in a century of building new airplanes. Start out by determining the weight values, maximum lift coefficient, wing loading, and thrust-to-weight ratio. Next lay out a configuration. Finally, iterate, making modifications and adjustments to perfect your vehicle. x
    • 16
      Primary Cockpit Instruments
      Focus on the science and engineering of the flight instruments. First, look at the hazards faced by even experienced pilots in the era before the altimeter and attitude indicator, learning how these vital instruments work. Then consider the importance of the airspeed indicator, turn coordinator, heading indicator, and vertical speed indicator. x
    • 17
      Air Traffic Navigation and Communication
      On a typical weekday, five to ten thousand aircraft are in the air over the U.S. at a given moment, flying to different cities at varying speeds and different altitudes. Survey the methods, tools, and jargon of air traffic controllers, who keep this traffic moving safely and expeditiously. Also look ahead to next-generation enhancements in the air traffic control system. x
    • 18
      Flight Autonomy and Drones
      Automated flight systems are increasingly used in human-piloted aircraft, where their nearly fail-safe expertise creates some unusual problems. Also look at remotely piloted vehicles, also called drones. Pioneered by the military, these are taking to the sky for a variety of practical civilian missions, including recreational uses. x
    • 19
      Helicopters and Vertical Flight
      Helicopters are so unlike fixed-wing aircraft in appearance and operation that it's hard to believe they work on the same aerodynamics principles. Focus on their ingenious rotor blades, which are rotating wings. Explore the challenge of flying a chopper, and learn why it's safer to lose power at altitude in a helicopter than in an airplane. x
    • 20
      Rocket Science and the Evolution of Launch
      Fly beyond the atmosphere with the only vehicle now capable of reaching space—the rocket. Discover that rocket science is not “rocket science,” in the sense of being extraordinarily difficult. It’s just basic physics and chemistry. Review the fundamentals of solid and liquid propellants, thrust, specific impulse, stability, nozzle design, and the advantages of using multiple stages. x
    • 21
      Orbiting Earth Means Always Falling
      Having ascended into space in the previous lecture, now investigate your orbital options. Whether you go into a circular, elliptical, or Earth-escape orbit—or make it into orbit at all—depends on your cutoff velocity. Calculate different orbits, including the Hohmann transfer ellipse needed for efficiently changing orbits. Also relive the orbital rendezvous exploits of Gemini 8 and Apollo 11. x
    • 22
      To Mars and Beyond: Gravity-Assist Flight
      Venture beyond Earth to the realm of the planets. Interplanetary trajectories require exquisite timing so that the target planet is in exactly the right spot when the spacecraft arrives, often by a Hohmann transfer ellipse. Consider two fuel-saving approaches to these marathon journeys—gravity assists and ion propulsion. x
    • 23
      Atmospheric Reentry: Ballistic, Skip, Glide
      Now return to Earth, analyzing the problem of decelerating from orbital or escape speed to a gentle touchdown on land or water. Calculate the amount of energy that must be lost during the plunge through the atmosphere, and consider three approaches to reentry, including that of the Space Shuttle, which unfortunately ended tragically for Columbia in 2003. Also look at the dire reentry scenario faced by Apollo 13 in 1970. x
    • 24
      The Future of Air and Space Flight
      Close by probing future developments in air and space flight. See these two realms combined in two vehicles: the White Knight aircraft that launches the Space Ship One capsule, and the proposed Mars atmospheric flyer. Consider technically possible devices such as the space elevator, solar-powered aircraft, and personal air vehicles. And that's just the beginning, for the sky is truly the limit! x
    • 25
      Bonus Material: Gustave Eiffel's Wind Tunnels
      Interview with Dr. John Anderson regarding Gustave Eiffel's Wind Tunnels and his career as an applied scientist in the field of aerodynamics. Dr. Anderson is the Curator of Aeronautical Engineering, Aeronautics Department at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. x
    • 26
      Bonus Material: Engineering Faster Flight Speeds
      Interview with Dr. John Anderson regarding flight speed engineering. x
    • 27
      Bonus Material: Why the Wright Flyer Succeeded
      Interview with Dr. John Anderson regarding how and what contributed to the success of the Wright Flyer. x
    • 28
      Bonus Material: The Wright Brothers' Innovations
      Interview with Dr. Tom Crouch regarding the many innovations of the Wright Brothers. Dr. Crouch is the Senior Curator, Aeronautics Department at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. x
    • 29
      Bonus Material: Higher, Farther, Faster
      Interview with Dr. Roger D. Launius, Former Associate Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs with Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. x
  • Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos

    Professor Colin McAllister, D.M.A.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    The guitar is one of the most accessible, versatile, and easy to learn instruments you can play. Get lessons and tips from expert, such as how a simple group of four guitar chords enables you to play hundreds of songs. Even if you already play the guitar, this course will broaden your knowledge by applying music theory, history, and expanding your repertoire of songs and styles.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Guitar Basics: Play a Song in 60 Seconds
      Discover how you can play a simple song on the guitar in just one minute. Then study the parts of the guitar, and how to hold the instrument. Play G and C major chords, and review the classic bass line from the song you learned. Finally, practice your song, combining your bass line with a four-note melody. x
    • 2
      Tuning Up, Reading Music, and Dexterity
      Consider important principles of musical learning, the essence of practice, and the importance of performance. Investigate how to tune your guitar, and learn a useful warmup. Observe how pitch and rhythm are notated (written), practice E and A minor chords, and work with a musical number using the chords you've learned so far. x
    • 3
      Classical Guitar Position and Posture
      Explore body posture with the instrument; then, practice your warmup using alternating fingers. Grasp how written music is divided into “measures” and “beats”. Learn fuller versions of G and C major chords, see how they are written in the tablature form of notation, and add a melody to the song from the last lesson. x
    • 4
      Learning How to Practice the Guitar
      Look deeper into how to practice and master each element in the learning process. Explore “shifting”—moving the left hand position in guitar playing. Then grasp how the lower three strings are notated, and practice moving between chords on the instrument. Play a major scale, and use it in the song “Shifting Sands”. x
    • 5
      Playing Fingerstyle Guitar
      Learn about three legends of “fingerstyle” guitar--the technique of playing with the right-hand thumb and fingers. Practice the basics of right-hand fingerstyle technique, with alternating fingers. Study the notation of open strings; then extend your fingerstyle to “fingering” chords. Play a G major scale across three strings, and use your fingerstyle in a song. x
    • 6
      Playing Rhythm Guitar
      Discover the leading lights of “rhythm guitar”, a playing style where the guitarist provides the rhythmic foundation for a band. Review your fingerstyle technique, and play arpeggios (broken chords). Learn to play eighth-notes, and “¾” or waltz-like rhythms. Practice a two-octave scale, some melodic patterns or “licks”, and put these elements together in today’s song. x
    • 7
      The Pentatonic Scale
      Look into the remarkable guitar-playing of Eric Johnson, and his use of the pentatonic (five-tone) scale. Learn a left-hand exercise for “walking” across the fretboard; then study half-step intervals on the guitar and how to read them. Investigate syncopated strumming patterns, the two-octave pentatonic scale, and how to use them in improvising. x
    • 8
      The Blues Scale and Lateral Stretching
      Enter the world of the blues, and learn about some pioneering pre-war blues players. For left hand technique, practice a “lateral stretching” exercise for flexibility. Add the A7 chord, along with syncopated blues strumming patterns and the A blues scale. Last, play “Blues for Art”, incorporating your new strumming patterns and the blues scale. x
    • 9
      Planting for Control and Accuracy
      First, contemplate the principles of tonal beauty, as taught by the great Romero brothers. Study the technique of “planting”, an aid for technical accuracy. Learn the D and A major chords, and how to read key signatures. Then play a new melody in D major, and accompany it in fingerstyle using your new chords. x
    • 10
      Guitar Tremolo: Gaining Speed
      Here, encounter two classical guitar titans, Agustín Barrios and Andrés Segovia, and grasp their contributions to the instrument. Study tremolo, which gives the illusion of a sustained note. Learn to read sixteenth-notes, add the E major chord, the major pentatonic scale, and use your tremolo and finger technique in the “Raindrop Etude”. x
    • 11
      Legato and Power Chords
      Begin with legato technique (also called “hammer-ons” and “pull-offs”), a way of smoothly connecting guitar tones without plucking the string. Then add the two-note “power chord” to your repertoire, a key chord for rock music. Practice some patterns (“licks”) using the minor pentatonic scale, and put all of these elements together in a rock song. x
    • 12
      Travis Picking for Folk, Country, and Rock
      Trace the remarkable life of Merle Travis, who pioneered a distinctive and highly influential fingerpicking style. Refine your descending legato technique (“pull-offs”), a great exercise for strength and finger independence. Study the “Travis picking” style, practice some melodic licks using pull-offs, and try Travis picking in the blues tune “Dusty Blue”. x
    • 13
      Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs
      Hear classic road stories of some great guitar players, as they point to the collaborative roles of the guitar. Learn the B7, C7, and G7 chords (“dominant seventh” chords), and grasp their role in musical harmony. Play the scale of E major across all six strings; then use your legato technique, dominant sevenths, and E major scale in accompanying a singer. x
    • 14
      Finger Independence and Chord Theory
      Explore harmonic tension and resolution, and the dominant and tonic chords, through compelling examples in the music of Richard Wagner. Practice an important exercise for independent movement of the left hand fingers. Discover how three-note chords (“triads”) can be constructed from the notes of the scale. Finally, play an original song using the material from this lesson. x
    • 15
      Crosspicking and Bass Lines
      Uncover the legend and innovations of Doc Watson, the great bluegrass player who was brought out of obscurity by a chance meeting. Study the challenges of playing with a pick while moving across the strings. Then taste “barre” chords, a useful technique you’ll explore further, learn the C major scale, and try a tune inspired by Johnny Cash. x
    • 16
      Piano-Style Guitar and Fingernail Care
      Investigate the musical effects created by the fingernails versus the fingertips, and grasp the basics of nail shaping and care for guitar playing. Then study chord “qualities” (major, minor, diminished), and look at common chord patterns and sequences. In today’s song, practice “piano-style” guitar, playing melody and accompaniment simultaneously. x
    • 17
      Syncopated Strumming and Movable Scales
      Begin with some memorable stories that illustrate the challenges of performance. Practice “chromatic octaves”, for hand coordination and flexibility, and learn to read “dotted” eighth notes. Experiment with different ways to play common chords, study “movable” scales (that use the same fingering pattern), and use these elements in an original tune. x
    • 18
      A New Pentatonic Scale and the Capo
      Explore the work of composer John Cage, as it points to the value of musical “silence”—the space between notes. Then learn to read musical “rests” (silences in the music). Study how to use the capo, a device used to shorten the guitar’s string length. Continue your work with “movable” pentatonic and major scales, and revive your “Travis picking” skills for today’s tune. x
    • 19
      Barre Chords: Movable Chords
      Delve into the original style of jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, and the story behind one of his greatest hits. Then go deeper into barre chords, one of the most challenging guitar techniques. Learn “movable” chord shapes, using the same fingering for multiple chords, and practice two-octave arpeggios (broken chords). End with a reggae-style song, structured in “A-A-B-A” form. x
    • 20
      Flamenco Technique: Rasgueado
      This lecture explores the flamenco style, highlighting the career and historic innovations of Paco de Lucia. Study the flamenco strumming technique of rasgueado. Learn to harmonize melody notes, practice movable A, Am and A7 chords, and expand your work with arpeggios. End with a flamenco-tinged song, using your new rasgueado, chords, and melodic technique. x
    • 21
      Playing with Natural Harmonics
      Learn to play the beautiful, chiming guitar tones called harmonics. First, explore the lives of some great players who featured them. Then play harmonics on all six strings, and see how they’re notated. Practice four-note diatonic seventh chords, and investigate modes, permutations of the major scale. Use your new chords and harmonics in the tune “Harmonic Landscapes". x
    • 22
      Jazz Harmony and Dorian Mode
      Take the measure of guitarist Charlie Christian and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, each of whom transformed jazz and their instruments. Grasp how to work for greater speed and accuracy when playing melodies. Learn “movable” chord shapes for major and minor seventh chords, practice the Dorian modal scale, and use them in a minor blues tune. x
    • 23
      DADGAD Tuning and Lydian Mode
      Take a look at the far-reaching influence of acoustic guitarist Michael Hedges, and his ingenious use of alternate tunings of the instrument. Continue with a two-part cross-picking exercise, for hand dexterity. Practice the Lydian modal scale. Then explore alternate tunings, focusing on Michael Hedges’ “D-A-D-G-A-D” tuning, and use it in the song “Alpine Sunrise". x
    • 24
      Taking the Guitar to the Next Level
      Trace the career of violinist Malcolm Watson, as it illustrates principles of success for musicians, and consider seven habits of highly effective guitar players. Then learn the technique of artificial harmonics. Add half diminished and full diminished chords to your repertoire, play the Mixolydian scale, and finish the course with a jazz and flamenco inspired song. x
  • Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures

    Professor Ann Williams, Ph.D., DEA

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    In Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures, you will gain a practical, in-depth introduction to a beautiful language. In these 30 step-by-step lectures, Professor Ann Williams has crafted an effective and engaging course that gives you the core building blocks while also giving you crucial insight into the relationship between language and culture—perfect for anyone serious about learning French.

    View Lecture List (30)
    30 Lectures  |  Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures
    Lecture Titles (30)
    • 1
      Welcome to the French-Speaking World
      Bonjour! Begin your voyage with a global look at the French language and French-speaking countries around the world. Learning a new language is an active process, and language is deeply connected to the cultures where it is spoken. In this first lecture, you will survey a few patterns and rules to jump-start your understanding of French. x
    • 2
      Ici, on parle français: French Is Spoken Here
      One important facet of the French-speaking world is that manners and politeness still matter. Discover a few essential phrases that will ensure you don't commit any faux pas before you've even had a chance to open your mouth. Then survey the basics of numbers, definite and indefinite articles, the alphabet, and geography. x
    • 3
      French around the World
      Continue your exploration of French manners and culture and build on the phrases from the first lecture. Then reflect on several “word families” that will help you build your vocabulary and make connections across the language. Along the way, you’ll also pick up a few common verb forms, adjectives, and adverbs. x
    • 4
      Francophone Towns and Villages
      When traveling in French-speaking countries, the verb aller – “to go” – is one of the most useful. Get to know this verb along with important question words such as “How much?” “Why?” and “When?” This lecture also gives you a chance to listen to a great deal of spoken French to help you practice your de-coding skills. x
    • 5
      Weather, Seasons, and Some Geography
      Find out how to discuss the weather, as well as what the weather is like in different parts of France. Then shift your attention to times of year—seasons, months, and dates. While you learn about the weather and time, Professor Williams also introduces you to a few new verb forms to help you talk about preferences and things to do. x
    • 6
      La Vie en France: Life in France
      Continue your study of time by examining the days of the week, times of day, and typical French routines throughout the day. More verb forms will help you express what you want to do, what you can do, and what you have to do. And of course, you'll also gain plenty of practice speaking and listening. x
    • 7
      Vacations and Leisure Activities
      In addition to teaching you the language, this course also serves as a cultural toolkit. You may know that the French enjoy their leisure time, so here you will discover the language of vacation and leisure, including the major French holidays. You’ll also get your first glimpse of the “imperative mood.” x
    • 8
      À table: Daily Meals
      You won't get far in a French-speaking country without being able to talk about food and drink, particularly given that mealtime is often sacred in the French culture. This lecture takes you through breakfast and lunch, showing you how to express hunger and thirst, how to order, and the necessary vocabulary to enjoy your meal. x
    • 9
      Buying Groceries
      Shift your attention from ordering food in restaurants to buying food (and other items) from the store. Find out how to count and calculate totals, and review the language and cultural considerations of making a purchase. Then tackle a few more regular and irregular verb forms to help you build your communications skills. x
    • 10
      Where to Eat
      Going to a market or restaurant is a culinary adventure. Here, you will put together several things you’ve learned from previous lectures and take a virtual trip to a restaurant. Professor Williams walks you through a typical dialogue with a waiter. You’ll also begin to examine different verb “moods”—the conditional, the indicative, and the imperative. x
    • 11
      The Life of the Traveler
      This first of several lectures on traveling through a French country arms you with the language around the daily routines of a tourist. Step into a Parisian hotel and have a conversation with a clerk to make sure you have somewhere to stay for the night. Continue your study of grammar with a look at pronominal and reciprocal verbs. x
    • 12
      Public Transportation
      This second lecture takes you on a journey around France to immerse you in the language of transportation to help you get from point A to point B. Professor Williams gives you a few common verbs and expressions to help you talk about where you came from, where you're going, and how to get there. x
    • 13
      Travel and Technology
      While values evolve very slowly, cultures often change quickly due to new devices. Round out the unit on life as a tourist with an examination of modern technology. Reflect on the French value of privacy and investigate the way smart phones and the internet have changed the nature of privacy—and the way we travel. x
    • 14
      Souvenirs de voyage
      In this lecture, you'll gain a few helpful tools for learning about other cultures and the objects you'll encounter. Discover the vocabulary to talk about clothing and houses, and then review the grammar you've learned thus far. In French, the verbs will always be with us, so take a few moments to survey some new verb forms as well as the subjunctive mood. x
    • 15
      Les Vêtements: How and Why to Dress
      Revisit some of the verbs you've already encountered to help you dress with style, particularly faire (to do or make), savoir (to know), and voir (to see). Build on what you've learned about the subjunctive mood to help you make your sartorial decisions. What you learn here will help you to dress your best for your travels. x
    • 16
      The Home and Private Spaces
      Your final cultural stop around France is the home. Tour the house to uncover the vocabulary of different rooms and their functions, as well as some regional differences in architecture. Then delve into a few “tricky translations” where you must choose the right word for the right situation. x
    • 17
      « Je fais des progrès en français ! »
      Visit the town of Lyon with Professor Williams to review what you've learned from the past few lectures and see how well prepared you are to navigate an unfamiliar city. Continue studying how get around and ask for directions. Learn a few additional nuances to the vocabulary you've acquired. x
    • 18
      La Musique, le théâtre et la danse
      You can't understand a culture without understanding its arts. Here, Professor Williams transitions to a multi-lecture unit on the arts, beginning with the world of performing arts. The great news is that much of the vocabulary of music, theater, and dance involves English cognates. This lecture also introduces the past tense. x
    • 19
      La Littérature et le cinéma
      Shift your attention from the stage to the realm of literature and cinema. Learn key words to help you navigate the bookstore and talk about novels, biographies, histories, poems, and more. Continue your study of verb tenses, which are the building blocks for telling a story. x
    • 20
      L'Art et les artistes
      Delve into the visual arts: sculpture, painting, and photography. As you build your vocabulary, you will also add new tools to your storytelling repertoire. With a particular focus on the verb “to be”—être—Professor Williams introduces the imperfect tense, which will better help you describe what is going on in a given situation. x
    • 21
      Le Patrimoine: Museums
      In addition to the arts, cultural heritage is important in French-speaking cultures. Your first stop is the museum, and your survey helps you put together much of what you learned in the previous unit. Review the major verb tenses—present, past, composé, and imperfect—and learn how to distinguish the different types of past tense. x
    • 22
      Le Patrimoine: Customs
      Consider the relationship between customs and heritage, and uncover the language for French myths and traditions. Then hone the necessary skills to help you follow a story in French. Find out how to make your descriptions livelier with adjectives and adverbs, including words of “degree”—très, trop, peu, and the like. x
    • 23
      Le Patrimoine: Places to Visit
      Travel through history and around French-speaking countries to explore several cultural heritage sites. You'll unpack how heritage refers both to the legacy of the past that we benefit from today, as well as what we will pass onto the future. On your tour, you will learn a series of new comparative adjectives. x
    • 24
      Le Tourisme et les régions
      Because of the connection between language and culture, there are many commonalities among French-speaking countries. But regional differences also abound. From food to everyday activities, explore what makes different countries and regions in France unique. From the Alps to Bordeaux, witness the diverse and exciting variety of the French-speaking world. x
    • 25
      Les Fêtes et les festivals
      One of the joys of travel is seeing the cultural connections and distinctions from one place to the next. In this lecture, use the language of celebrations to gain insight into the culture. Festivities include parties, commemorations, and…rodeos! You’ll also revisit the conditional “would” tense as well as a few verbs with irregular stems. x
    • 26
      Underlying Cultural Values
      While culture often changes, values tend to remain constant, with roots in major historical events such as the French Revolution. Reflect on important values in French-speaking countries, particularly hospitality. Your foray takes you through the language of government, politics, fraternity, and liberty. x
    • 27
      Aventures: Conversation
      The difference between mere tourist travel and adventure is that adventure is about immersion, which requires you to engage on a deeper level. This unit gives you that deep engagement, beginning here with the art of conversation. Discover the rhythms of French conversation and some of the cultural rules to set you up for success. x
    • 28
      Aventures: Telling a Story
      Continue your adventure by rounding out your skills to tell and follow a story. A new verb tense—the pluperfect—will help you tell personal stories, show the link between past and present events, and forge a connection with another person. Practice listening, reading and telling stories. x
    • 29
      Aventures: Reading Cultures
      You’ve already encountered the subjunctive tense Now take it to the next level to help you “read” a culture. Refine your ability to observe and analyze the world around you thanks to cultural artifacts. How do people dress? What do they eat? How do they greet each other? This crucial skillset will help you navigate almost any new place. x
    • 30
      Your Future with French
      You've come a long way in these 30 in-depth lectures. Learning a new language is a lifelong adventure, but before she leaves you, Professor Williams has one more lesson in verbs to impart. Walk through the ins and outs of the future tense and look to tomorrow. Then wrap up what you've learned so you can continue your adventures in learning French. x
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