Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change (small)
It was a small preview into the history and importance of social work, an opportunity for self-reflection and understanding my role in promoting social justice, and a test in balancing a full-time job with part-time learning. Three weeks later, I flew through nearly the entire intro course in two sittings – and felt ready to apply to part-time graduate programs in social work.
Sure enough, I recently committed to a part-time, on-campus Master of Social Work at NYU, and I feel exponentially more confident in that decision after taking the University of Michigan’s free online course.
Keep reading to learn about the free course, the University of Michigan’s social work MasterTrack program, and more:
Privilege, Oppression, Diversity, and Social Justice
All modules include videos from practicing social workers, alumni, and faculty from Michigan’s School of Social Work. This was the selling point for me: Hearing firsthand how each speaker has used their experience in social work to better understand others’ perspectives, empower those they work with, and advocate for the communities they care so deeply about.
However, it’s important to note that the vast majority of the course is presented through these video accounts. The videos are accessible and include captioning, but there are far more of them than there are discussion opportunities, quizzes, or interactive materials (although there are multiple occurrences of these other learning tools as well).
Timing and cost
The course is estimated to take about 12 hours to complete, and when I enrolled, it was suggested that I dedicate one week to each module – or three hours each week – to learning. Because I found the course material very engaging, I completed more than half the course in four hours on a Saturday night. The remaining modules were completed in two smaller chunks on weeknights. It’ll depend on your learning style how you want to spread out your study time.
The course is free to audit, though you can also pay $49 for a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn or resume. I appreciated having the graded quizzes and certificate for accountability and career development, and the assessments were pretty straightforward – I enjoyed the quizzes and didn’t find them particularly challenging.
If you’re looking to pursue the Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack, then the certificate is worth it because its cost can be applied to the MasterTrack. If not, then the value of the certificate will depend on your career ambitions and learning style – it might just be worth it to audit the course for free.
Enrolling in the MasterTrack and applying to the MSW
If you finish the course and would like to take the entire MasterTrack, you can enroll directly through Coursera with no required application. The MasterTrack is $2,000, and a detailed FAQ page explains the enrollment process.
If you’d like to apply to Michigan’s School of Social Work, you can submit an Eligibility Review Request to the university before enrolling in the MasterTrack. This form, which requires uploading your resume, is used to assess whether you’d be eligible to apply the MasterTrack certificate to an online or in-person Master of Social Work degree at UMich. It is not automatically supplemental to an MSW application and MasterTrack students are not guaranteed acceptance.
The completion of the MasterTrack certificate reduces the master’s degree from 60 credits to 45, potentially saving a significant amount of time and tuition costs. However, it’s important to note that the MasterTrack certificate is only applicable to Michigan’s MSW programs – it can’t be applied to other schools or programs.
Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack™ Certificate from the University of Michigan (small)
I’m NYC-based, and NYU’s Extended Program allowed me to enroll part-time in night and weekend courses while keeping my full-time job.
Though I could have enrolled in Michigan’s online program, I felt in-person courses were the right fit for me following over a year of work from home. For those who live in Michigan or prefer online learning, I’d still recommend the MasterTrack program.
The bottom line
If you’re curious about others’ professional experiences in social work, passionate about social justice, and considering social work as a career, I’d highly recommend this free course as a starting point. The engaging videos, varying perspectives, and powerful takeaways have already left a lasting positive impact on my future.
While working through it, I entered a much sought-after flow state of engagement, empowerment, and confidence that confirmed my suspicion that social work would be the right path for me. As I plan to begin pursuing my MSW in the fall, I’m grateful for the reassurance that I’ve made an informed career decision.
Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change (button)
Drawing from techniques in statistics and computer science, data scientists translate large, seemingly incomprehensible sets of data into meaningful insights that can help drive important business decisions. Given the job’s complexity and impact, companies are looking for data scientists in droves and are willing to pay up: the median base salary in 2020 is $107,801.
And with online courses, it’s actually possible to jump-start a career in data science without spending thousands of dollars or putting a wrench in your current job. One e-learning option is Harvard University’s Data Science Professional Certificate Program ($792.80), an intensive, 17-month-long online edX program that prepares you with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to pursue roles in data science. (You can also test out most of the courses for free before committing, or pay to earn professional certificates in individual courses.)
The courses are taught by Harvard professor of biostatistics Rafael Irizarry, yet costs under $800 and takes place entirely online, offering a combination of access, affordability, and flexibility previously unattainable at the actual school.
Each course in the program is designed so you can progress at your own speed, but you should expect to spend about 2-3 hours per week per course. There are nine courses total, beginning with foundational basics and culminating in a capstone project in which you’ll apply your new knowledge. This final project provides students with a tangible product to show potential employers or educational programs. Here are all the courses you’ll take in the Data Science program:
Upon completion of the program, students receive an official certificate that they can highlight on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles to not only indicate their relevant data science skills but also to signal initiative, self-motivation, and a willingness to learn – traits that employers love.
Past students of the program appreciated the engaging content and teaching style, hands-on exercises, and flexibility:
“Excellent class. Really helpful instructor and lots of hands-on materials. It covers the essential things you need to know and builds on material sequentially. I really look forward to taking the rest of the modules in the sequence. I am a busy professional and so being able to complete this course on my own time when I am traveling is very convenient and effective.”
“Perfect! I loved the course and I’m going to complete the whole Harvard Data Science program. I liked the instructor, the subject is perfectly clarified, and the videos are engaging. The course is very concise – no chance to get bored. Perfect solution for everyone looking for R fundamentals and a basic statistics course in one place.”
For about $88 per course, you can get your foot in the door to the fascinating, rapidly growing world of data science. Since edX is available on computers, tablets, and phones, you can do so anywhere and on your own time.
I enrolled in the course and learned a lot of tips on how to improve my mood and stress levels.
How do we live a meaningful life?
Despite how slippery and subjective the answer may seem, Yale’s professor Laurie Santos, a leading expert in positive psychology, wants you to know that it doesn’t have to be. Using science-backed habits and tools, you can improve your well-being – and lead a fulfilling life – starting today.
Santos’ extremely popular free online course, The Science of Well-Being, is a version of the 2018 course, Psychology and the Good Life, that broke records. The class was designed to bust myths around what we think will make us happy (like the luxury Mercedes-Benz status symbol) while also providing a roadmap of science-backed habits to build a happy, fulfilling life.
The Science of Well-Being (medium)
Seemingly overnight, it became the university’s most popular class in its 319-year history. – so popular, in fact, that at one point, one in four Yale students were enrolled in it, and the university was pulling fellows from its other schools to help staff the class.
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and stay-at-home orders rolled out across the world, a whopping 3.4 million people enrolled in her happiness course online.
You can take the course for free here, which takes an estimated 10 weeks (19 hours total) to complete. Or, keep reading for an overview of what to expect and a firsthand review of the online course.
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What to expect from the course
Misconceptions about happiness
Why our expectations are so bad
How we can overcome our biases
Stuff that really makes us happy
Putting strategies into practice
Each section includes video lectures, optional readings, and “rewirement” activities to do each day to build happier habits. Research suggests that if you do these rewirements as prescribed, you should experience a boost in your mood and overall well-being. After completing the five weeks above, students should commit to practicing one rewirement exercise for at least a month.
What I loved about the course
1. You can check to see if you’re actually getting happier.
In the beginning, you’re invited to respond to questionnaires that measure your baseline happiness. By the end of the course, you take them again to see whether your score increased. (Hopefully, your numbers rise!) To me, a before-and-after metric lent more concreteness to a typically abstract topic.
Surprisingly, I found the baseline happiness survey helpful for an unexpected reason: I was feeling fatigued, and the questions it posed helped me locate an overlooked source of dissatisfaction – I was continually rating one part of my life much lower than the others. It became clear what was wrong, and within the first lecture, I was able to use the framework to see my life more clearly.
2. The lectures are fun to watch – and lower pressure than an in-person class.
Santos’ lectures make for easy watching. To make the class warm and inviting, they were shot in Santos’ own home, with a handful of Yale students in the audience. They feel intimate – Santos’s tone is friendly and conversational, while still providing a great, in-depth exploration of the topic with an expert (most contemporary research was conceptualized and coined by Santos herself).
Once I sat down to play a lecture, I wanted to continue. I never felt like I was forcing myself to complete a task – I was satisfying my curiosity. Plus, I could easily rewind and rewatch lectures without asking Santos to repeat herself. And there was zero pressure to ask or answer questions!
3. The optional homework is actually fun.
While you can take the class at your own pace, you’re encouraged to implement the rewiring techniques on a weekly schedule. Research finds that improving your well-being takes daily, intentional effort over long periods – meaning this 10-week class is a great opportunity!
Overall, all the assignments are low-key and easy to implement. Since so many of us are so busy (and ironically may benefit the most from this course), there’s absolutely no required reading or grade penalty for a missed assignment deadline – so you don’t need to stress about suggested deadlines if you can’t meet them. All the information you need to know is summarized within the lecture. If you want to dive deeper, Santos provides links to complementary readings.
In other words, this class is about well-being – and it aims to practice what it preaches.
The Science of Well-Being (medium)
Is it worth it to get a certificate?
Maybe, but most likely not. You’ll have access to all the course materials and forums for this class without paying. But, if you want a certificate of completion or graded homework assignments, you can pay $49. You can also always upgrade any time during the course or afterward, so it’s probably worth it to test it out for free before committing to payment.
If you want but can’t afford the $49 certificate, apply for the course’s financial aid. Click on the “financial aid” link beneath the “enroll” button on the left. You’ll be prompted to complete an application and will be notified if you’re approved; applications take at least 15 days to be reviewed.
The bottom line
I should disclose that I enjoy online classes. In the character-strengths test that you’re invited to take at the course’s outset, “curiosity” was my most dominant trait out of the 20 possibilities.
But despite being a candidate of least resistance, I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed a few weeks in the course. The lessons felt immediately and concretely useful – most of the class legwork is completing daily “rewiring” tasks designed to build those research-backed happiness habits into your life. Beyond being an entertaining and fascinating class to take, it feels like the lessons it teaches will remain long after the course ends.
Paid options grant access to certificates of completion, feedback, and even final grades.
Course topics vary widely, from business and programming to writing and medicine.
Every year, US News & Reports releases its ranking of the top universities in the country. The schools included in the rankings are renowned for their rigorous academic programs, high-profile faculty members, and beautiful campuses. But they’re not easy to get into, nor are they affordable without scholarships.
Thankfully, online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn are increasing access to high-quality education for anyone with a computer and internet access. The sites’ free and low-priced courses are taught by instructors from the best universities and academic institutions around the world, so anyone can advance their education, pursue new professional goals, or audit a class for fun.
It helps you navigate negative behaviors and use effective strategies to improve your relationships.
I signed up and learned how to manage conflict with coworkers and spot my own negative thinking.
Let’s be honest: We’ve all worked with people who seemed hard to get along with, whether they’re micromanaging, rude, or neglectful.
One online class aims to unlock the secrets behind dealing with difficult people so they don’t have as big an impact on you. With over 800,000 enrollments so far, LinkedIn Learning’sWorking with Difficult People equips you with strategies to help improve even the most challenging relationships, both in the workplace and in our social lives.
Working with Difficult People (small)
The course is led by Chris Croft, a world-leading career trainer who’s taught over 18 million people online via his massive open online courses (MOOCs) on Linkedin Learning and Udemy. Throughout the course, he explores the various types of difficult people, such as those who are aggressive, passive-aggressive, selfish, or childish – to offer strategies for transforming how you work with them.
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To access this course, you need a Linkedin Learning subscription (which you can test out with a free 30-day trial). After that, it’ll cost $29.99 per month (monthly) or $19.99 per month (annually).
Working with Difficult People covers the following topics:
How To Identify and Understand Difficult People
Tactics and Techniques
Difficult People at Work
Each section includes video lectures and a chapter quiz to test your understanding of the content. It takes about three weeks to officially finish the course, but since it’s self-paced, you can technically complete it in a week or even a few sittings. Once completed, you’ll get a Linkedin Learning certificate that you can display on your LinkedIn profile.
What I loved about the course
1. You learn as much about yourself as you do about other people.
Croft makes it clear from the beginning that “difficult people” are subjective – and that we may be difficult to others in some ways as well. That’s why Croft encourages us to ask ourselves if we could be the ones contributing to tensions because more often than not, those who are difficult aren’t aware of it.
This really resonated with me because I don’t always think deeply about how my actions in the workplace affect others. After some self-reflection, I asked my colleagues for feedback on my performance. My coworkers mentioned that I was already nice to work with, but I could improve my communication skills and punctuality. I genuinely appreciated their honesty – it felt good to realize how I could better collaborate and serve others.
2. The course is very action-oriented, with realistic examples.
Throughout the course, Croft uses real-life situations to explain different choices you can make. For instance, he highlights two options when we encounter people who are difficult to work with. One is to let them continue with their negative behavior, but change how you perceive it. The other is to try to change them, which is usually harder because you have to make them aware of how they’re impacting you.
While learning these options over the three-week period, I applied them to a couple of people around me who were difficult to work with. For instance, in a group project, one coworker required an explanation for each step, which I initially found annoying. But I accepted that it was easier to just help her more on her part of the project and let my annoyance go. The other coworker simply didn’t do their fair share of the project, so I politely confronted them. By choosing to act this way, I developed better relationships with my peers and was able to work together more effectively.
3. You learn how to make positive changes at your workplace.
If you’re working at a poorly managed company, you may feel like you can’t make a difference in changing things. Croft emphasizes that we should ditch that philosophy and strive to make an impact on a more positive work culture wherever possible by starting from the team we work in.
According to Croft, one way to do this is by splitting up a big goal into smaller goals to track our progress over time. An example he gave is how small pebbles still make ripples in a big ocean. As team members, we’re the small pebbles that have the potential to make our workplace better for everyone around us.
Even though I work for a smaller company, this pushed me to start practicing greater transparency and asking for feedback on a regular basis, promoting it among my team, which could eventually reach our entire group of employees.
The bottom line
I was surprised at how much I learned over the few weeks about how I can inspire change as an individual to make my work environment better.
By the end of the course, you’ll be able to identify the negative behaviors of difficult people and practice strategies to positively transform the larger work culture, such as asking for feedback and developing healthy confrontation skills. Personally, it’s helped me build stronger relationships with my colleagues and change my negative mindset into a growth mindset.
How much does it cost? MasterClass costs $180 for its annual subscription ($15 a month), which gives you unlimited access to all its classes until you cancel.
Is it worth it? If you will use MasterClass more than a few times, yes, the yearly pass may be worth it. If you won’t, or you need something more intensive or traditionally academic, consider other online learning sites like Coursera or edX.
How does MasterClass work? MasterClass classes are about 2-5 hours on average, with individual lessons ranging from 2-5 minutes. Classes include pre-recorded video lessons by your instructor, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and sometimes community activities. MasterClass may have opportunities for students to submit work to instructors for feedback, but that’s not the norm.
Ron Finley has launched a movement around an unusual form of protest: gardening. In 2011, Finley was issued an arrest warrant for planting fruits and vegetables on the curbside strip outside his home in South Central LA — a food desert. Two years later, his story helped change LA laws and, a decade later, he’s helped plant dozens of community gardens. In his MasterClass, Finley teaches you how to grow your own food, avoid killing your plants, and the beauty and community you can find in healthy food. Read a review of the course here.
It’s hard to believe now that Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter growing up, one that actually stopped him from talking for a year. You can learn about how he overcame this obstacle to become an Oscar nominee in this course on acting, which particularly focuses on how to develop a character.
Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants, like The French Laundry, have been awarded quite a few Michelin stars and have people eagerly waiting months at a time for reservations. In his MasterClass, he breaks down the basics of some of the most essential cooking techniques, like braising meats and making stocks. Read a review of the course (and other MasterClass cooking courses) here.
Questlove — iconic DJ, Grammy winner, and The Roots drummer — teaches collecting and mixing music. You’ll learn how to transition from genre to genre to curate the perfect playlist, whether just for yourself or to wow your friends.
Writer’s block is a major challenge, but hopefully, some inspiration from Margaret Atwood can bring you out of your funk. The Man Booker Prize-winner’s lessons delve into character development, point of view, structuring a novel, and more. Read a review of the course here.
Annie Leibovitz claims the title of first-ever female chief photographer at “Rolling Stone,” along with plenty of other accomplishments. Here, she sheds light on her photography philosophy and shows how a great photo comes to life.
Whether you want to fine-tune your vocal craft or have no musical experience beyond singing “happy birthday” to your friends and family, Christina Aguilera has the techniques to help you take it up a notch. The Grammy Award winner gives you practical tips on how to polish your sound as well as share some stories about her career trajectory.
Apollonia Poilâne, the third-generation baker and CEO of the famous Parisian bakery Poilâne, teaches you how to use all of your senses when baking an ideal loaf from scratch. She outlines best practices for a variety of French breads — rustic wheat, rye, brioche, and her beloved sourdough loaves — with warmth and clarity. Read a review of the course (and other MasterClass cooking courses) here.
Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication
Ivy League degrees, bestselling books, and a Grammy award are just some of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s accolades. In this course, the renowned astrophysicist will help you see into the mind of a scientist, giving you plenty of skills to help you strengthen the way you think and communicate along the way.
If you’re looking for a classic, technical guitar lesson, this course probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking to understand how one of the world’s most popular guitarists approaches the instrument, draws inspiration for his music, and found his unique sound, you’ll love this class with Carlos Santana.
As the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger was responsible for some of the brand’s most important acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. His lesson dives into everything from business insights from the acquisition process to how to use your time effectively and productively.
Ever wondered how to make your space look like it’s plucked off an “Architectural Digest” page while still feeling like it’s distinctly yours? It’s a tall order, but Kelly Wearstler has designed enough celebrity homes and boutique hotels to give you all the tips and tricks you need to know to redefine your own space. You’ll learn how to choose colors for any room, make a space feel larger, and even curate an art collection.
During his time as an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss mastered all of the facets of communication and compromise. While your everyday negotiations may not be as high-stake, Voss’s strategies can help you get the outcomes you want — whether it’s a promotion at your job or a big decision in your relationship.
Dominique Ansel teaches French pastry fundamentals
Dominque Ansel is revered for his creative takes on delicious pastries, like the Cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid that garners hours-long lines outside of his SoHo bakery in New York. In this course, you’ll learn the precise technique Ansel uses to bake his famous treats. Fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, and mini madeleines are just some of the desserts you’ll learn to bake.
There’s no one better to help you perfect your poker face than Daniel Negreanu — he’s won the World Series of Poker six times. He’ll help you learn even the most complex poker concepts so you can increase your win rate the next time you sit around the felt.
Compared to many online courses, MasterClass’s follow the format of a one-sided conversation more than an academic setting, which can make learning feel more engaging.
I love that I’m able to learn conventional and not-so-conventional tricks and tips from giants of any industry — some of whom are on my shortlist of favorite authors, actors, musicians, and chefs. Classes are pretty short (2-5 hours total), and the lessons are between 5-25 minutes each.
I also get access to notes, additional reading resources, and a community. And it’s nice that I can download lessons or use Audio Mode in the car as a de facto audiobook on days when my attention span is low.
Plus, the diversity, quality, and flexibility of its online classes is hard to beat. If I’m going through a cooking phase, I can watch bite-sized clips that are interesting and useful. And if something isn’t my number one passion, the allure of a “master” helps me remain interested in the lessons.
Personally, I enjoy having yearly access. If you’re a lifelong learner, it gives you the ability to jump around different subjects with tools like “topic playlists” that queue up stuff you might like. For me, it’s worth the $180 — it’s informative without feeling overly stringent or overwhelming. But if you’re interested in deep-diving into only one topic, I’d recommend auditing a class at Coursera or edX rather than dropping $180 just to access one MasterClass. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
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Coursera Plus is a $399 annual or $59 monthly subscription to 90% of the platform’s online courses.
Members can earn unlimited professional certificates to add to their resumes or LinkedIn.
Below is an answer to every Coursera Plus FAQ, including whether it’s worth it.
Coursera, a popular e-learning platform with thousands of online courses from top universities, offers an expansive subscription called Coursera Plus. You can pay for it annually ($399), or monthly ($59).
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A Coursera Plus subscription gets unlimited access to 90% of Coursera classes. You can take multiple classes, earn multiple certificates to add to your resume or LinkedIn, and potentially save a chunk of money on multi-course programs called specializations.
Coursera Plus is a membership that allows you to enroll in – and get all the paid perks – of 90% of the site’s offerings without any additional fees.
What is included in Coursera Plus?
Coursera Plus gives you unlimited access to over 3,000 courses, guided projects, specializations, and professional certificate programs from prestigious universities and top employers such as Google, VMware, Unity, Intel, and more.
If you don’t care about graded homework or certificates of completion, it may not be worth the fee. Without a membership, you can audit Coursera courses either for free or only during their seven-day trial, after which you can decide if you want to pay to keep learning. However, you usually won’t get access to paid features.
If you plan on paying for multiple courses, Coursera Plus may save you money depending on what they are and how much each course costs. But, if you only take one or two paid courses per year, you may be better off paying à la carte.
If you want to take just one specialization track to master a specific skill, it’s probably cheaper to just pay for the specialization than for Coursera. But, if you want to take additional courses within the same timeframe, it’s probably worth the extra $10 per month.
How many certificates can you earn with Coursera Plus?
According to the company, you earn a certificate for every course, specialization, or professional certificate you complete. You can then share your certificate on your LinkedIn profile, with your employer, and on your CV and resume.
What happens to any specialization subscriptions you’re already enrolled in when you subscribe to Coursera Plus?
It teaches you how to build EQ to reach career goals and facilitate strong relationships.
I signed up and learned how to enhance my communication and relationship-building skills.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) can deeply enhance our personal and professional lives, helping us do everything from navigate complex social situations to manage relationships with people who are different from us.
Throughout the course, Roberts explores the four factors behind EQ – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship development – to offer learners science-backed strategies for understanding their emotions and being empathetic when communicating with others.
As someone who’s interested in learning more about psychology and science-backed mental wellness strategies, this course really caught my attention as it not only focuses on individual wellbeing but also on optimizing your day-to-day performance at work (whether you work on a team or as a solo freelancer).
Free 30-Day Trial (medium)
To access this course, you need a Linkedin Learning subscription. LinkedIn Learning is considered a premium service and has a subscription fee of either $29.99 per month (monthly) or $19.99 per month (annually). You can also try a free 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial. Once you complete the course, you will get an optional certificate to display on your LinkedIn profile.
Developing Your Emotional Intelligence covers the following topics in an estimated time frame of five weeks:
Understanding Emotional Intelligence
Each section includes video lectures and a chapter quiz to test your understanding of the content. It takes about five weeks to officially finish the course, but since it’s self-paced, you can technically complete it in a week or even a few longer sessions.
3 Things I Loved About Developing Your Emotional Intelligence
1. Roberts uses real-life, relatable situations to explain different psychological tools.
When watching Roberts’ lectures, I found myself relating to a lot of the situations. She analyzes common issues in our personal and professional lives, emphasizing how they could have been averted by understanding our emotions and being empathetic when expressing them to others. Many of the quizzes also focus on applying the psychological concepts to realistic scenarios, which is extremely helpful in remembering how to use EQ in real life.
One of the examples is how two coworkers get into a conversation that eventually grows into a heated argument. Roberts says that if you want to change the way you react emotionally, start by accepting your past behavior and using that to define how you want to behave and react in the future. She identifies it as a learning curve that takes conscious practice but once you have it, you’ll be able to control your emotional reactions even in a contentious moment.
2. You learn real tips for practicing empathy every day.
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes sounds a lot easier than it actually is, but it’s so crucial: The course emphasizes that the ability to empathize with others is a key predictor of emotional intelligence – and, subsequently, strong relationships with other people.
Just like any other skill, cultivating empathy takes practice. Roberts breaks it down into two steps. One, she says, is to ask the other person questions to learn how they’re processing the situation or the impact it’s having on them. If you don’t have the opportunity to ask questions, you can also take a step back and imagine the possibilities of how they may think and feel.
The other step is to offer support and understanding – without assuming you have the answers the other person requires. You may not be able to solve the situation or change it for them, but it’s important that the person knows that you’re actively listening and trying to understand them.
3. The course teaches you how to collect and handle honest feedback to build stronger relationships.
Roberts addressed how we often wonder about how others view and think about us, which resonated with me; when I’m working in a team, I always wonder if others understand my approach and intentions. Roberts says that the key to understanding how others perceive you is to ask for their feedback.
Feedback can go two ways: The fear of receiving negative responses can influence your emotional reactions and self-esteem – or, you can appreciate and use feedback to grow. If you want to get feedback, Roberts promotes a review-refine-repeat process, where you review how you’re perceived, refine and make tweaks to make sure you come across in an empathetic way, and repeat the process again and again.
I recently took Roberts’ advice and asked a few of my colleagues for feedback on a group project for work. The main feedback I received was that sometimes, I prolong conversations so much that I don’t get to the point quickly. While this may be okay for informal banter, it can really hold up the team when it comes to important business decisions. I now practice being more concise and impactful in my communication so I can make this into a habit. I found that doing this not only impacted my EQ, but helped me become better at building relationships and communicating effectively.
The bottom line
Even though I did not know much about EQ prior to this course, I was surprised by how much I learned over the few weeks. This class doesn’t just teach you how to develop your EQ – it also shows you how to strengthen your connections and feel more satisfied with your day-to-day life. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to identify what EQ is and how to achieve it with research-backed psychological tips, such as managing your mindset and becoming more empathetic. Personally, it’s helped me strengthen my relationships and ask for feedback to grow.
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Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects
Length: 15 hours
Learn about expert learning techniques in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and more by exploring the two learning modes your brain uses. You’ll get practical tips — such as how to “chunk” information — and research-backed best practices for tackling difficult subjects. You’ll also cover hot topics such as illusions of learning, memory techniques, and how to deal with procrastination. You can read more about the Learning How to Learn course here.
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Taking Romantic Comedy Seriously
Length: 1 hour
People love to hate romantic comedies, but beyond the sometimes-formulaic plots and forced happy endings, they’re a great examination of the changing romantic norms throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Emory University Professor Michele Schreiber demonstrates the evolution of romantic comedies — from screwball comedies to ’70s “feminist” films to “post-romantic” movies in the 2010s — alongside cultural trends and socio-political contexts.
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How Music Shapes the Brain
Length: 1 hour
Learning and performing music changes the brain, which is why neuroscientist and opera singer/director Dr. Indre Viskontas says the musician’s brain is hailed as a model of neuroplasticity. But, even listening to music can change the brain — in this talk, Viskontas explains how — and what — music can tell us about what it means to be human.
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Ron Finley Teaches Gardening MasterClass
Length: 2 hours
Activist and gardener Ron Finley was once issued a citation (and, eventually, a warrant) for planting a garden on a curbside strip of dirt outside his home in South Central, LA — a food desert. Now, Finley teaches gardening as an aspect of protest and revolution — including how to grow your own food, avoid killing your plants, and find your gardening community. You can read a review of the course here.
Ron Finley Teaches Gardening (button)
Dog Emotion and Cognition
Length: 22 hours
This Duke course explores the relatively new study of dog psychology — including what recent research suggests dogs think and feel about us and how we can use this knowledge to strengthen our relationships with them.
Dog Emotion and Cognition (button)
Mindware: Critical Thinking for the Information Age
Length: 13 hours
Curious about how to make better, easier judgments and choices? This course uses basic concepts from statistics, probability, scientific methodology, cognitive psychology, and cost-benefit theory to help you do just that — whether it’s used to pick one product versus another or critique coverage of scientific research. Concepts are briefly introduced and then demonstrated through a variety of examples.
Mindware: Critical Thinking for the Information Age (button)
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
on CreativeLive (button)
Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology
Length: 7 weeks
In this Smithsonian course, delve into how “Star Trek” affected audiences around the world through its intersections with history, race, gender, sexuality, technology, society, and ethics. Students hear from experts, watch show and film clips, debate fellow fans, and explore their own theories using critical analysis and object exploration.
Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology (button)
The Science of Better Sleep
Length: 3 hours
Taught by Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley neuroscience and psychology professor and the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science, this course will tell you how to get better sleep — and why it’s so important. Students learn about the science of sleep, how to increase their quality and quantity, and how to prevent things such as sleep debt. You can read a review of the course here.
The Science of Better Sleep (button)
How to Listen to (and Appreciate) Great Music
Length: 1 hour
The infinite proliferation of options for listening to music has made us more passive listeners, according to Fairfield University professor and musicologist Orin Grossman. But active listening is a big part of getting the most joy out of a song. Here, Grossman explains what active listening is and gives you techniques for greater enjoyment from any type of music.
How to Listen to (and Appreciate) Great Music (button)
How to Watch Movies Like a Film Professor
Length: 2 hours
Yale’s Marc Lapadula illustrates how to watch — and analyze — films like a film professor. Lapadula illustrates his points using examples from masterpieces, such as “Casablanca,” “Psycho,” “Citizen Kane,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” and more.
How to Watch Movies Like a Film Professor (button)
How to Read a Novel
Length: 8 hours
Designed by The University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, this course teaches you how to read more closely. You’ll look at the four main building blocks of modern fiction — plot, characterization, dialogue, and setting — as well as the formal strategies authors use and why they exist. Reading examples are pulled from books shortlisted for the 2021 James Tait Black fiction prize.
How to Read a Novel (button)
Stealing Art: How Thieves Do It, and How They (Sometimes) Get Caught
Length: 1 hour
Taught by Robert Wittman, a world-renowned FBI agent, this class examines the history of art theft and other art crimes such as frauds and forgeries. Wittman gives an overview of the problem and the annual loss, as well as details the 2020 Van Gogh heist and how the painting could possibly be recovered.
Stealing Art: How Thieves Do It, and How They (Sometimes) Get Caught (button)
Modern Art & Ideas
Length: 14 hours
In this MoMA course, you’ll look at art from the museum’s collection through a variety of themes: Places & Spaces, Art & Identity, Transforming Everyday Objects, and Art & Society. You’ll also hear audio interviews with artists, designers, and curators, too. You can read a review of the course here.
Modern Art & Ideas (button)
Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes
Length: 25 hours
Learn about core philosophy through the lens of superhero narratives in this SmithsonianX and Harvard Extension School course. Using examples like Superman’s embrace of truth and justice to Wonder Woman’s peace efforts, Professor Christopher Robichaud of the Harvard Kennedy School dips into everything from metaphysics and epistemology to moral relativism.
Note: This course is archived, which means you can review the course content but it is no longer active.
Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes (button)
The Art of Magic
Length: 3 hours
Magicians Penn & Teller, who’ve performed together for more than 40 years and earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, were the longest-running headline act in Las Vegas. Now, they’re teaching fundamental magic tricks and psychological tools that can help create amazement in audiences.
The Art of Magic (button)
Empathy for Sales Professionals
Length: 1.5 hours
Workforce Innovation Specialist Sophie Wade quantifies the effect of empathy on sales and shows salespeople how to incorporate empathy into training to improve customer relationships and team performance.
Empathy for Sales Professionals (button)
Find Your Style
Length: 1 hour
Illustrator and designer Andy J. Pizza was discouraged by the advice that “you don’t find your style, your style finds you,” spending years feeling uninspired and inauthentic before finally deciding to discover his style for himself. This course lays out five hands-on exercises that help you identify your artistic identity.
Find Your Style (button)
Writing for Self-Discovery
Length: 1 hour
Work on cultivating confidence, mindfulness, and growth through six mindfulness prompts in a downloadable, printable journal that you can follow along with in class.
Writing for Self-Discovery: 6 Journal Prompts for Gratitude and Growth (button)
Intro to Forensic Science
Length: 18 hours
Learn about forensic science — from crime scene investigation to reporting evidential value within a case. The course also has students practice their assessment skills on a virtual case.
Introduction to Forensic Science (button)
Length: 8 hours
Chris Hadfield, an astronaut and eventual commander of the International Space Station, teaches you what it’s like to explore space — and what humans can expect from the final frontier. You’ll learn about space travel science, life as an astronaut, and how flying in space changes how you live life on Earth.
Space Exploration (button)
Plants at Home
Length: 1 hour
Christopher Griffin (@PlantKween) cares for more than 160 plants in their Brooklyn apartment. Here, they help you build your own nursery — from finding the right plant for you and your home to troubleshooting common issues such as root rot.
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Non-fiction audiobooks are an easy and flexible way to learn something new on the go.
Narration, especially when by the author themselves, adds emotion and passion to any story.
We’ve rounded up readers’ favorites, from humor and history to memoirs and self-help.
As an avid reader, I was growing frustrated with my limited available free time to read. Formerly obsessed with podcasts and perpetually disinterested in reading non-fiction, I found that audiobooks were an incredible way to learn during my commute. Passionate narration from audiobooks shed the textbook-like feeling I often associated with non-fiction reading, especially with memoirs narrated by their own authors.
Audiobooks have grown tremendously as readers discovered they can fit stories even into the busiest schedules. With more and more services offering audiobook streaming – such as Libby, Audible, and Google Play – readers are finding audiobooks as a perfect alternative to physical books. Personally, Libby has quickly become my most-used app. Since it works like a library, I love putting audiobooks on hold, my queue naturally shuffling as more become available.
Audiobook App (small)
I chose these non-fiction audiobook recommendations based on how well the narration enhances the reading experience. While I’ve listened to the majority of these personally, the others come heavily recommended to me by other bookworms. So whether you’re looking to expand your understanding of society, hear life lessons from a famous actor, or learn about an event that happened long before you were born, below are some recommendations to get you started.
Chanel Miller was previously identified as Emily Doe when her victim statement went viral during Brock Turner’s trial. Now, in her memoir, Chanel recounts her story and process of healing but also encourages us to reexamine how we respond and recover from trauma. Being able to hear Chanel’s voice adds such powerful emotion — don’t be surprised if you shed a few tears over the course of this memoir.
Standout quote:“My pain was never more valuable than his potential.”
Anthony Bourdain’s exposing stories about restaurant life
by Anthony Bourdain (button)
Listening to an audiobook often turns a story into an experience, and hearing the late Chef Anthony Bourdain tell honest tales of classic kitchens is one that will resonate with any reader. This memoir is vulnerable in the sense that it is unyieldingly genuine, never skirting around hard (and often shocking) subjects and reminding us of the legacies great chefs leave behind.
Standout quote:“Good food and good eating are about risk.”
Michelle Obama’s moving life story
by Michelle Obama (button)
Michelle Obama manages to feel like your personal mentor as she tells her life story from her childhood, to meeting and falling in love with Barack, to the hidden challenges of being First Lady. Divided in three sections — Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More — the memoir is as inspiring as it is an honest peek behind the curtain of the Obamas’ lives.
Standout quote: “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?
Barack Obama’s first presidential memoir
“A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (button)
If getting through a 768-page memoir feels daunting, the audiobook — narrated by a president especially known for his compelling oration — might be a more approachable option. Hearing beloved former president Barack Obama speak passionately and powerfully in a genuine account of his campaign and presidency makes the 29 hours of the audiobook fly by.
Standout quote: “Whatever you do won’t be enough,” I heard their voices say. “Try anyway.”
Jessica Simpson’s raw narrative of her battles
by Jessica Simpson (button)
In this extremely vulnerable memoir, Jessica Simpson outlines the deepest struggles of her life. While most of us see her as one of a long line of blond pop stars in the Britney Spears era, her book details pressure from a media label; unhappiness and manipulation in relationships; and even struggles in her church, all told with a candid voice. As a bonus, the audiobook also includes new songs inspired by her writing.
Standout quote:“Sometimes we are all so afraid to be honest with ourselves because we know that honesty will lead to somewhere.”
Trevor Noah’s engaging essays from his life
by Trevor Noah (button)
Born of a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother, Trevor Noah’s birth was illegal and for many years, he was hidden from the government. Though sometimes serious and unsettling, Trevor Noah’s memoir is delivered with warmth and humor as he navigates a world in which he wasn’t allowed to be born.
Standout quote: “We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”
Standout quote: “But part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”
A framework to improve your life
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear (button)
A self-help meets how-to book, this bestseller aims to help you improve your life by focusing on how you change your habits to reach your goals, no matter what they may be. By addressing the systems of change, it gives readers clearly defined strategies and practical examples to apply to their own lives.
Standout quote:“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
A moving guide to self-compassion
by Pema Chödrön (button)
Frequently hailed as the type of book that comes into your life exactly when you need it, Pema Chödrön uses Buddhist teachings to help a reader learn how to work and communicate through stressful or difficult periods in life. This book encourages you to have compassion for yourself, your loved ones, and humanity.
Standout quote:“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
A way for introverts to find their voice
by Susan Cain (button)
Arguing that our society dramatically undervalues introverts, former attorney (and fellow quiet person) Susan Cain demonstrates that there is space for people who aren’t extroverted or loud. Using research, personal anecdotes, and success stories, Cain not only helps more reserved people feel seen — she shows them where caution and quietness can be an enormous strength.
Standout quote: “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
A roadmap to finding yourself
“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (button)
Half inspirational memoir, half self-help book, “Untamed” welcomes us into Glennon Doyle’s life as she raises her children, leaves her husband to marry her wife, and encourages us to be brave and untamed in a world that often wants to keep us in cages.
Standout quote:“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
A key to building resilience in the face of crisis
by Sheryl Sandburg and Adam M. Grant (button)
Grief can feel isolating and terrifying but with this audiobook, you can learn how to take care of yourself and others after experiencing loss. When Option A is no longer available, we can learn to make the most out of Option B.
Standout quote:“I am more vulnerable than I thought, but much stronger than I ever imagined.”
A manual for becoming an empathetic and daring leader
by Brene Brown (button)
To become caring, empathetic, and effective leaders, we must overhaul the impersonal culture we’ve been taught and return to humanity. Based on two decades of research, Brené Brown teaches us how to become and raise daringly vulnerable leaders through real strategies and demonstrated applications.
Standout quote:“At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to say I contributed more than I criticized.”
A memoir on honest, funny, and sometimes gross life advice
by Ali Wong (button)
Narrated in letters to her daughters, comedian Ali Wong shares enlightening wisdom through personal stories of motherhood, making it as a comedian, reconnecting with her East Asian heritage, and “trapping” their father into marriage.
Standout quote:“You have suffered enough.” That became my mantra for motherhood from there on out. You have suffered enough. If you can make it easier, make it easier, and don’t feel guilty about it.”
A mortician answering kids’ questions about our post-mortem bodies
Big Questions from Tiny Mortals (button)
A dark subject matter made light, this book has no business being as funny as it is. Caitlin Doughty, a mortician, takes the most asked questions from kids (“What would happen if you die on a plane?” or “What would happen if you swallowed a bag of popcorn before you were cremated?”) and applies sarcasm and humor to answer them all without leaving the reader feeling heavy about death.
Standout quote:“Sometimes death can be violent, sudden, and unbearably sad. But it’s also reality, and reality doesn’t change just because you don’t like it.”
A severely funny memoir on accomplishments and setbacks
by Colin Jost (button)
It’s been a pattern for famous “SNL” cast members to write memoirs, from Tina Fey to Amy Poehler, but Colin Jost will have you laughing in the first five minutes with his ridiculous stories, self-deprecation, and long list of all the names he’s been called.
Standout quote:“No one in comedy (or any field, really) succeeds in a vacuum. And the faster you find friends who challenge you and sometimes make you jealous, the faster you’ll grow as a comedian (and regress as a human).”
Exceptional storytelling of Greek mythology
by Steven Fry (button)
For history buffs, Stephen Fry’s audio contributes significant entertainment to a complex tapestry of Greek mythology, relating classic stories to our modern world through pathos and humor. Through this chronological collection of short stories, you’ll undoubtedly learn something new about Greek myths (while savoring all of Fry’s witty interjections).
Standout quote: “Gaia visited her daughter Mnemosyne, who was busy being unpronounceable.”
An immersive narrative into the American caste system
Shaped on the deeply researched premise that America was built on a caste system, this book is profoundly thought-provoking and challenges how we’ve always understood America’s culture, economy, and politics.
Standout quote: “We are responsible for our own ignorance or, with time and openhearted enlightenment, our own wisdom.”
A vivid experience of a historical day
An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett Graff (button)
This audiobook is a compilation of first-hand accounts from September 11th, 2001. To put it lightly, it’s an emotional experience, heightened by the individual narrations from each storyteller.
Standout quote:“Sen. John Glenn, a dear friend, came by. I said, “Did you see that? A pilot flew into the World Trade Center.” He said, “Pilots don’t fly into buildings. That wasn’t a pilot.”
A new exposition of an infamous school shooting
by Dave Cullen (button)
A definitive account from an investigative reporter who followed the story for 10 years, this story challenges what we knew about one of the most notorious school shootings in America’s history.
Standout quote: “The final portrait is often the furthest from the truth.”
A chronicle on how racism shaped American history
The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (button)
The narration keeps this expertly written book moving at a fast pace, capturing a full image anti-Black ideas in America. If you like this one, Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds wrote a shorter, anti-racist companion: “Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You.”
Standout quote:“The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of Black people being best suited for or deserving of the confines of slavery, segregation, or the jail cell.”
A collection of essays on being a better feminist
Notes From the Women that a Movement Forgot (button)
This book turns a light on the blind spot of feminism: racial inclusion. Through a collection of essays, Mikki Kendall argues how food insecurity, access to medical care, and gun violence are all feminist issues, often forgotten by the larger feminist movement.
Standout quote: “For a movement that is meant to represent all women, it often centers on those who already have most of their needs met.”
A YA Pride read on the account of a hate crime
A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives, by Dashka Slater (button)
In this queer YA non-fiction, two very different teenagers’ lives intersect for only eight minutes a day. A single impulsive interaction involving a lighter and a skirt leads to two hate crime charges and severe burns, changing both of their lives forever.
Standout quote: “There are two kinds of people in the world. Male and Female. Gay and Straight. Black and White. Normal and Weird. Cis and Trans. There are two kinds of people in the world. Saints and Sinners. Victims and Villains. Cruel and Kind. Guilty and Innocent. There are two kinds of people in the world. Just two. Just two. Only two.”
A straightforward conversation about race in America
by Ijeoma Oluo (button)
With a clear and authentic voice, this book tackles structural injustice head-on. Each topic begins with a personal narrative before diving into invaluable knowledge to aid in anti-racist learning and living. Blunt and passionate, Oluo teaches in such a way that these lessons naturally become a part of your life.
Standout quote:“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”
A personal account of Blackness in a white world
Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness (button)
Greatly personal in the trenches of America’s racial divide, this story shows how a world that outwardly appears to value “diversity” above all else still fails to conquer racial injustice. By no means written to comfort white people, Austin Channing Brown explores being a Black woman in a world built for white people but how embracing and including Blackness could change the world.
Standout quote:“Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort.”
An eye-opening read on race and the prison industry
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (button)
An accessible telling of an extensive issue, this book exposes the concept that slavery has transformed to the current mass incarceration of Black men. Michelle Alexander, a lawyer, uses inarguable statistics to arm anti-racist readers in the fight for equality.
Standout quote:“The nature of the criminal justice system has changed. It is no longer primarily concerned with the prevention and punishment of crime, but rather with the management and control of the dispossessed.”
A guide to the difficult questions America needs to ask
by Emmanuel Acho (button)
An invitation for people to have honest and difficult discussions about racism in America, this book is a follow-on to Emmanuel Acho’s successful internet series, acknowledging that these conversations must happen in order to make real progress.
Standout quote:“There is a fix. But in order to access it, we’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations.”