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Monday, September 20, 2010

Grab Bag Video Lectures for Enhanced General Learning

Hey everyone, this month I have another guest post. It's written by Kate Cunningham who writes on the topics of online university rankings. She welcomes your questions and comments at her email: cn.kate1 @

Another great news is that a friend of mine from Belgium has gathered Feynman, Hawking and Sagan video lectures and created three websites for them. Check them out:

So here is Kate's guest post.

The eminent science fiction writer and general polymath Isaac Asimov once said, "Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise--even in their own field."

And so, taking Asimov's words into consideration, here are a few video lectures from different fields that cross disciplines and will hopefully give you a better sense of how the world works from a variety of perspectives.

Faith and Globalization

This lecture is presented by Professor Miroslav Volf of Yale's theology department. In this course, Volf examines how religious faith critically impacts the world from a kaleidoscopic perspective. Dr. Volf traces religious faith in many facets of our increasingly globalized lives--from politics to society to economics.

My Turing Machine or Yours?

Dr. John Goldsmith of the Linguistics and Computer Science department of the University of Chicago discusses the concept of the Turing Machine. Specifically Goldsmith addresses the universal Turing machine, a thought experiment that has cross-disciplanary application, especially with computing and artificial intelligence.

Sociology as Literature

Renowned sociologist Dr. Richard Sennett links together sociology and literature, demonstrating a different way in which to think about novels or fiction writing such that it has an astounding social relevance in our world.

The U.S. and the World's Recession

Available through the website MIT World, this lecture discusses the intersection of the United States and the larger implications of the worldwide recession. Delivered by Dr. Roberto Rigobon, the lecture summarizes basic economic concepts like inflation and recession, but demonstrates how they are specifically working in the world today. This video is relevant for anyone who wants a greater understanding of current global economic trends.

On the History of Ugliness

Umberto Eco, world-famous semiotician, novelist, and scholar, gives a fascinating lecture on the historical lineage of our concept of ugliness. Unlike beauty, which has an aesthetic component in understanding it, Eco surmises that ugliness is a highly social concept.

The City of Sardis: Approaches in Graphic Recording

Although not quite a lecture per se, this video, brought to you by a Harvard University Art Museum exhibit, discusses through a series of interviews and a tour of the exhibit, how new technologies have impacted the way we study ancient archeological sites.

Your Brain on Facebook: Neuropsychological Associations with Social Versus Other Media

Now that Facebook is all the rage, this video lecture is especially relevant for the connected individual of today. This lecture, delivered at George Washington University, explains a neuropsychological experiment that measures how social media may affect the brain.

Fun with Mathematics: Some Thoughts from Seven Decades

Here's a fun take on a subject that many consider to be quite dry--mathematics. This lecture, delivered by Dr. Irving Kaplansky, discusses a few random personal thoughts about math and the sometimes complicated academic world of publication. Relevant for those interested in taking a "behind the scenes" look at academic mathematical trends.

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less

Eminent Swarthmore College professor and author Barry Schwartz has widely researched the intersection of economics and psychology. In this lecture, Schwartz discusses how the proliferation of choice in modern life can sometimes be less liberating than previously thought.

Rules, Race, and Mel Gibson

Slavoj Zizek, a major philosopher, polymath, and cultural critic of our time, discusses pop culture stars like Mel Gibson and what his antics have to say about the nature of race and rules in our modern lives. Those who are interested in the symbolic signification of pop culture will be particularly delighted by this Zizek performance.

Thanks so much to Kate for writing this article! Also thanks to Thomas for sending me links to his Feynman, Hawking and Sagan video lecture websites!
See this infographic about BP oil spill, too. It teaches you more about the spill:


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