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    What is philosophy? How does it differ from science, religion, and other modes of human discourse? This course traces the origins of philosophy in the Western tradition in the thinkers of Ancient Greece. We begin with the Presocratic natural philosophers who were active in Ionia in the 6th century BCE and are also credited with being the first scientists. Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximines made bold proposals about the ultimate constituents of reality, while Heraclitus insisted that there is an underlying order to the changing world. Parmenides of Elea formulated a powerful objection to all these proposals, while later Greek theorists (such as Anaxagoras and the atomist Democritus) attempted to answer that objection. In fifth-century Athens, Socrates insisted on the importance of the fundamental ethical question—“How shall I live?”—and his pupil, Plato, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, developed elaborate philosophical systems to explain the nature of reality, knowledge, and human happiness. After the death of Aristotle, in the Hellenistic period, Epicureans and Stoics developed and transformed that earlier tradition. We will study the major doctrines of all these thinkers. Part I will cover Plato and his predecessors. Part II will cover Aristotle and his successors.

    Commitment: 5 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week



    What is philosophy? How does it differ from science, religion, and other modes of human discourse? This course traces the origins of philosophy in the Western tradition in the thinkers of Ancient Greece. We begin with the Presocratic natural philosophers who were active in Ionia in the 6th century BCE and are also credited with being the first scientists. Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximines made bold proposals about the ultimate constituents of reality, while Heraclitus insisted that there is an underlying order to the changing world. Parmenides of Elea formulated a powerful objection to all these proposals, while later Greek theorists (such as Anaxagoras and the atomist Democritus) attempted to answer that objection. In fifth-century Athens, Socrates insisted on the importance of the fundamental ethical question—“How shall I live?”—and his pupil, Plato, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, developed elaborate philosophical systems to explain the nature of reality, knowledge, and human happiness. After the death of Aristotle, in the Hellenistic period, Epicureans and Stoics developed and transformed that earlier tradition. We will study the major doctrines of all these thinkers. Part I will cover Plato and his predecessors. Part II will cover Aristotle and his successors.

    This course introduces the Bayesian approach to statistics, starting with the concept of probability and moving to the analysis of data. We will learn about the philosophy of the Bayesian approach as well as how to implement it for common types of data. We will compare the Bayesian approach to the more commonly-taught Frequentist approach, and see some of the benefits of the Bayesian approach. In particular, the Bayesian approach allows for better accounting of uncertainty, results that have more intuitive and interpretable meaning, and more explicit statements of assumptions. This course combines lecture videos, computer demonstrations, readings, exercises, and discussion boards to create an active learning experience. For computing, you have the choice of using Microsoft Excel or the open-source, freely available statistical package R, with equivalent content for both options. The lectures provide some of the basic mathematical development as well as explanations of philosophy and interpretation. Completion of this course will give you an understanding of the concepts of the Bayesian approach, understanding the key differences between Bayesian and Frequentist approaches, and the ability to do basic data analyses.

    Commitment: Four weeks of study, two-five hours/week depending on your familiarity with mathematical statistics.



    Interest in meditation, mindfulness, and contemplation has grown exponentially in recent years. Rather than being seen as mystical practices from ancient Buddhism or esoteric philosophy, they are increasingly seen as technologies rooted in evidence from psychology and neuroscience. Mindfulness has become the basis for numerous therapeutic interventions, both as a treatment in healthcare and as a means of enhancing well-being and happiness. For millions around the world, mindfulness has become a life-style choice, enhancing and enriching everyday experience. Mindfulness is big business. But, what actually is mindfulness? Is it really good for you? Can anyone learn it? How can you recognize charlatans? Would you want to live in a mindful society, and would it smell like sandalwood? What does it feel like to be mindful? Are you mindful already, and how would you know? Evolving from the popular Honours Academy course at Leiden University, this innovative course combines conventional scholarly inquiry from multiple disciplines (ranging from psychology, through philosophy, to politics) with experiential learning (including specially designed ‘meditation labs,’ in which you’ll get chance to practice and analyze mindfulness on yourself). In the end, the course aims to provide a responsible, comprehensive, and inclusive education about (and in) mindfulness as a contemporary phenomenon. During the production of this course, we have been supported by Willem Kuyken, Director of the University of Oxford Mindfulness Centre, and Stephen Batchelor, co-founder of Bodhi College. And we gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by Mark Williams, co-developer of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Rebecca Crane, Director of the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at the University of Bangor.

    Commitment: 5 Weeks, 7 modules incl Honours project, approx 3 hours per week, suggested 30-45 minutes per day for experiential practices.



    Philosophy is like sex: sure you can get some interesting results, but that's not why we do it. Going one step beyond…why do you FEEL pain or pleasure? Do plants have emotions? How is possible that some people do not understand other’s emotions? Emotions seem to be everywhere, giving meaning to all events of our lives. They are the backbone of social activities as well as they drive the cognitive processes of several living entities. Several animals, including humans, have emotions but…what about machines?...Do machine can have emotions? This course will help you to understand and to identify most important philosophical ideas and debates about emotions, as well as it will provide you a rich source of data about neurological, psychological or anthropological analysis of emotions. In a nutshell: this is a course to feel and think about.

    Commitment: 3-5 hours/week



    This course aims to help you to draw better statistical inferences from empirical research. First, we will discuss how to correctly interpret p-values, effect sizes, confidence intervals, Bayes Factors, and likelihood ratios, and how these statistics answer different questions you might be interested in. Then, you will learn how to design experiments where the false positive rate is controlled, and how to decide upon the sample size for your study, for example in order to achieve high statistical power. Subsequently, you will learn how to interpret evidence in the scientific literature given widespread publication bias, for example by learning about p-curve analysis. Finally, we will talk about how to do philosophy of science, theory construction, and cumulative science, including how to perform replication studies, why and how to pre-register your experiment, and how to share your results following Open Science principles. In practical, hands on assignments, you will learn how to simulate t-tests to learn which p-values you can expect, calculate likelihood ratio's and get an introduction the binomial Bayesian statistics, and learn about the positive predictive value which expresses the probability published research findings are true. We will experience the problems with optional stopping and learn how to prevent these problems by using sequential analyses. You will calculate effect sizes, see how confidence intervals work through simulations, and practice doing a-priori power analyses. Finally, you will learn how to examine whether the null hypothesis is true using equivalence testing and Bayesian statistics, and how to pre-register a study, and share your data on the Open Science Framework. All videos now have Chinese subtitles. More than 10.000 learners have enrolled so far!

    Commitment: 7 weeks of study, 3 hours a week



    This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy. Topics you’ll learn about will include: Epistemology, where we’ll consider what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it; Philosophy of science, where we’ll investigate foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice; Philosophy of Mind, where we’ll ask questions about what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and explained; Political Philosophy, where we'll investigate whether we have an obligation to obey the law; Moral Philosophy, where we’ll attempt to understand the nature of our moral judgements and reactions – whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences, and; Metaphysics, where we’ll think through some fundamental conceptual questions about free will and the nature of reality. The development of this MOOC has been led by the University of Edinburgh's Eidyn research centre. To accompany 'Introduction to Philosophy', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Introduction to Philosophy' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please click "Start Here" and navigate to the "Optional Reading" page for more information.

    Course Description What is our role in the universe as human agents capable of knowledge? What makes us intelligent cognitive agents seemingly endowed with consciousness? This is the second part of the course 'Philosophy and the Sciences', dedicated to Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences. Scientific research across the cognitive sciences has raised pressing questions for philosophers. The goal of this course is to introduce you to some of the main areas and topics at the key juncture between philosophy and the cognitive sciences. Each week we will introduce you to some of these important questions at the forefront of scientific research. We will explain the science behind each topic in a simple, non-technical way, while also addressing the philosophical and conceptual questions arising from it. Areas you’ll learn about will include: Philosophy of psychology, among whose issues we will cover the evolution of the human mind and the nature of consciousness. Philosophy of neurosciences, where we’ll consider the nature of human cognition and the relation between mind, machines, and the environment. Learning objectives Gain a fairly well-rounded view on selected areas and topics at the intersection of philosophy and the sciences Understand some key questions, and conceptual problems arising in the cognitive sciences. Develop critical skills to evaluate and assess these problems. Suggested Readings To accompany 'Philosophy and the Sciences', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Philosophy and the Sciences' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy and the Sciences team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please note, this companion book is optional - all the resources needed to complete the course are available freely and listed on the course site.


    What is the origin of our universe? What are dark matter and dark energy? This is the first part of the course 'Philosophy and the Sciences', dedicated to Philosophy of the Physical Sciences. Scientific research across the physical sciences has raised pressing questions for philosophers. The goal of this course is to introduce you to some of the main areas and topics at the key juncture between philosophy and the physical sciences. Each week we will introduce you to some of these important questions at the forefront of scientific research. We will explain the science behind each topic in a simple, non-technical way, while also addressing the philosophical and conceptual questions arising from it. We’ll consider questions about the origin and evolution of our universe, the nature of dark energy and dark matter and the role of anthropic reasoning in the explanation of our universe. Learning Objectives Gain a fairly well-rounded view on selected areas and topics at the intersection of philosophy and the sciences Understand some key questions, and conceptual problems arising in the natural sciences. Develop critical skills to evaluate and assess these problems. Suggested Reading To accompany 'Philosophy and the Sciences', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Philosophy and the Sciences' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy and the Sciences team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please note, this companion book is optional - all the resources needed to complete the course are available freely and listed on the course site.


    Discover the principles of solid scientific methods in the behavioral and social sciences. Join us and learn to separate sloppy science from solid research! This course will cover the fundamental principles of science, some history and philosophy of science, research designs, measurement, sampling and ethics. The course is comparable to a university level introductory course on quantitative research methods in the social sciences, but has a strong focus on research integrity. We will use examples from sociology, political sciences, educational sciences, communication sciences and psychology.

    Commitment: 8 weeks, 4-5 hours/week


    In this course we study the ancient, Socratic art of blowing up your beliefs as you go, to make sure they're built to last. We spend six weeks studying three Platonic dialogues - "Euthyphro", "Meno", "Republic" Book I - then two weeks pondering a pair of footnotes to Plato: contemporary moral theory and moral psychology. Platonic? Socratic? Socrates was the teacher, but he said he never did. Plato was the student who put words in his teacher's mouth. You'll get a feel for it. We have a book: the new 4th edition of "Reason and Persuasion", by the instructor (and his wife, Belle Waring, the translator.) It contains the Plato you need, plus introductory material and in-depth, chapter-length commentaries. (Don't worry! John Holbo knows better than to read his book to the camera. The videos cover the same material, but the presentation is different.) The book is offered free in PDF form - the whole thing, and individual chapter slices. It is also available in print and other e-editions. See the course content for links and information. The course is suitable for beginning students of Plato and philosophy, but is intended to offer something to more advanced students as well. We seek new, odd angles on old, basic angles. Tricky! The strategy is to make a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary approach. Lots of contemporary connections, to make the weird bits intuitive; plus plenty of ancient color, still bright after all these years. So: arguments and ideas, new possibilities, old stories, fun facts. Plus cartoons. The results can get elaborate (some book chapters and some lesson videos run long.) But each video comes with a brief summary of its contents. The lessons progress. I put them in this order for reasons. But there's no reason you can't skip over and around to find whatever seems most interesting. There are any number of self-contained mini-courses contained in this 8-week course. You are welcome to them. Plato has meant different things to different people. He's got his own ideas, no doubt. (Also, his own Ideas.) But these have, over the centuries, been worn into crossing paths for other feet; been built up into new platforms for projecting other voices. (Plato did it to Socrates, so fair is fair.) So your learning outcome should be: arrival somewhere interesting, in your head, where you haven't been before. I wouldn't presume to dictate more exactly.

    Commitment: 3-4 hours/week



    Learners will be introduced to the problems that vision faces, using perception as a guide. The course will consider how what we see is generated by the visual system, what the central problem for vision is, and what visual perception indicates about how the brain works. The evidence will be drawn from neuroscience, psychology, the history of vision science and what philosophy has contributed. Although the discussions will be informed by visual system anatomy and physiology, the focus is on perception. We see the physical world in a strange way, and goal is to understand why.


    This course follows the extraordinary development of Western Christianity from its early persecution under the Roman Empire in the third century to its global expansion with the Jesuits of the early modern world. We explore the dynamic and diverse character of a religion with an enormous cast characters. We will meet men and women who tell stories of faith as well as of violence, suppression, and division. Along the way, we encounter Perpetua and her martyrdom in Carthage; the struggles of Augustine the bishop in North Africa; the zeal of Celtic monks and missionaries; the viciousness of the Crusades; the visions of Brigit of Sweden; and the fracturing of Christianity by Martin Luther’s protest. We hear the voices of great theologians as well as of those branded heretics by the Church, a powerful reminder that the growth of Christianity is a story with many narratives of competing visions of reform and ideals, powerful critiques of corruption and venality, and exclusion of the vanquished. The troubled history of Christian engagement with Jews and Muslims is found in pogroms and expulsions, but also in the astonishing ways in which the culture of the West was transformed by Jewish and Islamic learning. We shall explore the stunning beauty of the Book of Kells, exquisitely prepared by monks as the Vikings terrorized the coast of England. We will experience the blue light of the windows of Chartres, and ponder the opening questions of Thomas Aquinas’ great Summa. We will read from the Gutenberg Bible of the fifteenth century, which heralded the revolution brought by the printing press. We will travel from Calvin’s Geneva to Elizabeth’s England to Trent, where a Catholic Council met to inaugurate a modern, missionary Catholic church. We will walk through the great Escorial of Philip II of Spain, hear the poetry of John of the Cross, and follow the Jesuits to Brazil and China. Christianity in the West was forged in the fires of conflict and tumult, and it brought forth both creativity and violence. It echoed with calls for God’s world to be transformed, it inspired the most sublime art and architecture, yet it also revealed the power of the union of cross and sword to destroy. The course is a journey through the formation of the West as one strand of Christianity, as one chapter in a global story. It is a journey that has shaped our world.

    Myths are traditional stories that have endured over a long time. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they a set of blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Or are they just entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? This course will investigate these questions through a variety of topics, including the creation of the universe, the relationship between gods and mortals, human nature, religion, the family, sex, love, madness, and death.

    This course provides an introduction to the study of the history, major teachings, and practices of the major Chinese religions and spiritual practices and is deigned to give conceptual tools to appreciate diverse religious practice in East. It covers the development of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism and wide range of popular and local religions. From historical perspective we will also explore the development of key theological, religious and philosophical doctrines as well as associated practices. An effort will be made to spend time on each tradition according to its importance to Asia as a whole. We will explore the role of religions in politics and social relations in East and South, South East Asia and China in particular, and will analyze the origins, central teachings, divisions and branches, rituals and practices, influences on culture, and responses to modern challenges for each tradition. The emphasis throughout the course is on the hermeneutic difficulties attendant upon the study of religion in general, and Asian religions in particular. We will explore new Asian religions as dynamic, ongoing forces in the lives of individuals and in the collective experience of modern societies.

    This course examines the nature of both science and religion and attempts to explore the possible relationships between them. The primary purpose is to dispel the popular myth that science and religion are entrenched in a never-ending conflict. As a result, this course argues that if the limits of both science and religion are respected, then their relationship can be complementary. Topics include: Science and Religion Categories and Foundational Principles, Definitions of Science and Religion, Science-Religion Models and Relationships, Intelligent Design and Natural Revelation, the Galileo Affair, Geology and Noah’s Flood, Evolution and Darwin’s Religious Beliefs, the Modern “Evolution” vs. “Creation” Debate, the Problem of Evil, and Interpretations of the Biblical Accounts of Origins in Genesis 1-11. The course employs a Constructive Teaching Style in order that students can develop their personal views on the relationship between science and religion and on each of the topics listed above. St. Joseph's College is a Catholic, undergraduate, liberal arts college on the University of Alberta campus. It is an independent institution that is affiliated with the University of Alberta.

    Throughout history, the vast majority of people around the globe have believed they have, however defined, a “soul.” While the question of whether the soul exists cannot be answered by science, what we can study are the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul and its prospects of surviving the death of the body. Why are soul and afterlife beliefs so common in human history? Are there adaptive advantages to assuming souls exist? Are there brain structures that have been shaped by environmental pressures that provide the foundation of body/mind dualism that is such a prominent feature of many religions? How do these beliefs shape the worldviews of different cultures and our collective lives? What is the role of competing afterlife beliefs in religion, science, politics, and war? This course explores several facets of this relatively unexplored but profoundly important aspect of human thought and behavior. The course consists mainly of 70 to 80 minute lectures, typically broken up into 3 segments, recorded from a course offered by Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences. These videos include slides and some embedded video clips. Most lectures are accompanied by slides used during the lecture, also including recommended reading assignment which may provide additional opportunities to reflect on your studies. Due to the lengthiness of this class and natural progression, the online course has been separated into 3 units, this is Unit 1.

    Commitment: 15 hours of videos, quizzes and peer review


    Throughout history, the vast majority of people around the globe have believed they have, however defined, a “soul.” While the question of whether the soul exists cannot be answered by science, what we can study are the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul and its prospects of surviving the death of the body. Why are soul and afterlife beliefs so common in human history? Are there adaptive advantages to assuming souls exist? Are there brain structures that have been shaped by environmental pressures that provide the foundation of body/mind dualism that is such a prominent feature of many religions? How do these beliefs shape the worldviews of different cultures and our collective lives? What is the role of competing afterlife beliefs in religion, science, politics, and war? This course explores several facets of this relatively unexplored but profoundly important aspect of human thought and behavior. The course consists mainly of 70 to 80 minute lectures, typically broken up into 3 segments, recorded from a course offered by Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences. These videos include slides and some embedded video clips. Most lectures are accompanied by slides used during the lecture, also including recommended reading assignment which may provide additional opportunities to reflect on your studies. Due to the lengthiness of this class and natural progression, the online course has been separated into 3 units, this is Unit 2.

    Commitment: 3-5 hours/week


    Throughout history, the vast majority of people around the globe have believed they have, however defined, a “soul.” While the question of whether the soul exists cannot be answered by science, what we can study are the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul and its prospects of surviving the death of the body. Why are soul and afterlife beliefs so common in human history? Are there adaptive advantages to assuming souls exist? Are there brain structures that have been shaped by environmental pressures that provide the foundation of body/mind dualism that is such a prominent feature of many religions? How do these beliefs shape the worldviews of different cultures and our collective lives? What is the role of competing afterlife beliefs in religion, science, politics, and war? This course explores several facets of this relatively unexplored but profoundly important aspect of human thought and behavior. The course consists mainly of 70 to 80 minute lectures, typically broken up into 3 segments, recorded from a course offered by Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences. These videos include slides and some embedded video clips. Most lectures are accompanied by slides used during the lecture, also including recommended reading assignment which may provide additional opportunities to reflect on your studies. Due to the lengthiness of this class and natural progression, the online course has been separated into 3 units, this is Unit 3.

    Commitment: 3-5 hours/week


    Energy issues have always been important in international relations, but in recent years may have become even more important than in the past due to the widespread awareness of existing limits to energy sources and negative climate impacts. The course discusses global trends in energy consumption and production, various available scenarios for potential developments in the coming decades, the availability of oil reserves and the evolution of the oil industry. It then discusses natural gas and highlights the differences between oil and gas. It will also discuss renewable energy sources, nuclear energy and EU energy policy. The course aims at providing students whose main interest is in international relations a background on energy resources, technology and economic realities to allow them to correctly interpret the political impact of current developments. It also aims at providing students, who already have a technical background in energy science or engineering, with the broad global view of energy issues that will allow them to better understand the social, economic and political impact of their technical knowledge. ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR : Giacomo Luciani Scientific Advisor for the Master in International Energy at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) Sciences Po, Giacomo Luciani is also Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva and Director of the Executive Master in International Oil and Gas Leadership. For the period 2010-13 he was appointed Princeton University Global Scholar, attached to the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Near Eastern Studies. His research focuses on the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa and on global energy issues. RECOMMENDED BACKGROUND : The course requires no special scientific, mathematical or economic background; all key concepts are clearly and elementarily explained. It is expected that it will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students in schools where an equivalent course is not offered (this being the case for the vast majority of schools). USPC Sorbonne Paris Cité Supported by Université Sorbonne Paris Cité IDEX Investissements d'Avenir Funded by Investissements d'Avenir - 'ANR. Info : Course content : Licence Creative Commons BY NC SA

    Commitment: 8 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week


    This course offers an introduction into the public economics theory. It does not aspire to cover theories of taxation, public expenditures, regulation etc. at length and in-depth. Rather, our ambition is to give a bird's-eye view of central themes of public economics and related disciplines, and teach concepts, logic, and ideas, rather than methods of analysis, which would require an entirely different course format. Our choice of topics covered by the course reflects a trade-off between salience and centrality, on the one hand, and suitability for a brief online introductory course, on the other. The course content is neither comprehensive (which would be a "mission impossible" for virtually any public economics course"), nor representative of other such courses. With these limitations and caveats in mind, we encourage our students to continue their public economics studies in a more regular fashion, and see our role inter alia in motivating interest in such "continued education". The central theme of the course is the role of government as a mechanism of resource allocation which complements and augments markets. Governments are viewed as public agencies set to correct market failures. Such agencies however are prone to failures of their own, and hence markets and governments are two imperfect alternatives. We deal with government's limitations, with particular emphasis on those that have to do with informational asymmetry, limited administrative capacity, and imperfect accountability to society. Otherwise the course's man themes are economics of taxation, regulation, politics of public economics, incentives in government, and government vis-à-vis (civil) society.

    Commitment: 6 weeks, 6-8 hours per week


    This course introduces class participants to the political significance and societal consequences of challenges facing U.S. and international policymakers. It is designed to help participants develop skills to analyze policy proposals and advocate for their preferred options for issues on the public policy agenda ahead. The class assumes basic knowledge about governing institutions and democratic processes, while recommending supplemental materials for further study to complement reading links provided. The course focuses on future policy challenges, while examining the broad historical context in which policies are adopted and implemented. As the course evaluates how issues are advanced by private sector interests, non-governmental organizations, and government policymakers, it examines how groups become effective policy advocates. Particular attention is paid to how winning coalitions are formed and how issue framing shapes the outcome of policy campaigns. The goal is neither to produce partisan talking points, nor to favor one governance philosophy over others. Rather it is to clarify the public policy challenges ahead and to enhance participants’ understanding of how policy options are adopted in the real world arena of contemporary politics. Coming soon, you will be able to join Signature Track, a system that verifies your identity when you take an exam. This option will allow you to earn a Verified Certificate, which provides formal recognition of your achievements in the course and includes the University of Virginia logo. Before then, you can complete a “test run” of the exam. You can then re-take the exam after the Verified Certificate becomes available. For information regarding Verified Certificates, see https://courserahelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201212399-Verified-Certificates"

    Commitment: 9 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week


    Terrorism has arguably been one of the defining factors of our age. It frequently makes headlines, threatening or attacking governments, private business and ordinary citizens. And in many parts of the world, it has been one of the most important threats to peace, security and stability. But what does this exactly mean? What is the nature of this threat? Who or what is threatened, how, by whom and why? What can be done about it or how can we at least limit the impact of terrorism and make sure that terrorists do not make headlines and manage to scare us? These are just a handful of questions that will be addressed in this course that consists of three parts. First it focuses on the essence of terrorism as an instrument to achieve certain goals, in addition to an exploration of this phenomenon and the difficulties in defining it. The second part provides an overview of the state of the art in (counter) terrorism studies. Since ‘9/11’ terrorism studies have grown exponentially, reflecting the rise in perceived threats. But what has academia come up with? What theories, assumptions and conventional wisdom has it produced that could be of help in understanding terrorism and dealing with it? The most interesting results are examined and compared with empirical evidence with the aim to either stress their importance or to debunk them as myths. The final part looks into the implications and possibilities for policy making. The course ends with a module specifically designed to address one of today's most topical issue: the foreign fighter phenomenon.

    Commitment: 30 hours of videos, quizzes, and projects


    Atheist LogoAtheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.

    Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

    Atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion.

    While there are some religions that are atheistic (certain sects of Buddhism, for example), that does not mean that atheism is a religion. To put it in a more humorous way: If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    All atheists are different

    The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.

    Protestantism is one of the major branches of Christianity today stemming from the movement known as the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation began in Europe in the early 16th century by Christians who opposed many of the unbiblical beliefs, practices, and abuses taking place within the Roman Catholic Church.

    In a broad sense, present-day Christianity can be divided into three major traditions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. Protestants make up the second largest group, with approximately 800 million Protestant Christians in the world today.

    The Protestant Reformation
    The most notable reformer was German theologian Martin Luther (1483-1546), often called the pioneer of the Protestant Reformation. He and many other brave and controversial figures helped reshape and revolutionize the face of Christianity.

    Most historians mark the start of the revolution on October 31, 1517, when Luther nailed his famous 95-Thesis to the University of Wittenburg's bulletin board—the Castle Church door, formally challenging church leaders on the practice of selling indulgences and outlining the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone.

    Learn more about some of the major Protestant reformers:

    John Wycliffe (1324-1384)
    Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)
    William Tyndale (1494-1536)
    John Calvin (1509-1564)

    Protestant Churches
    Protestant churches today consist of hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of denominations with roots in the Reformation movement. While specific denominations vary widely in practice and beliefs, a common doctrinal groundwork exists among them.

    These churches all reject the ideas of apostolic succession and papal authority. Throughout the course of the Reformation period, five distinct tenets emerged in opposition to Roman Catholic teachings of that day. They are known as the "Five Solas," and they are apparent in the essential beliefs of almost all Protestant churches today:

    Sola Scriptura ("Scripture alone"): The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith, life, and doctrine.
    Sola Fide ("faith alone"): Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
    Sola Gratia ("grace alone"): Salvation is by the grace of God alone.
    Solus Christus ("Christ alone"): Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ because of his atoning sacrifice.
    Soli Deo Gloria ("for the glory of God alone"): Salvation is accomplished by God alone, and only for his glory.

    Learn more about the beliefs of four major Protestant denominations:

    Lutheran
    Reformed
    Anglican
    Anabaptist