Penn State MOOCs

Introduction to Art: Concepts & Techniques

Course Faculty

Anna Divinsky

About the Course

Learn to identify and define various art movements, artists, and their artworks. Convey a personal appreciation for art concepts, techniques, and approaches through the creation and sharing of your own original artwork.

Introduction to Art: Concepts & Techniques is an art appreciation course created for individuals without any artistic background. This course introduces you to various art movements, cultural influences, artistic genres, artists, and their artwork. The main emphasis of the course is to teach you hands-on studio arts techniques as you conduct personal research and explore your own creativity. While utilizing historical and contemporary art concepts, the course guides you through different time periods. Examining and discussing artwork is a crucial part of this course, encouraging you to express your opinions about art in an intelligent and articulate manner. By the conclusion of the course, you will compile a portfolio of artworks reflective of your research, understanding, creativity, and personal growth.

Subjects discussed: Fantastic art, mail art, black and white portraiture photography, installation art, and 3-D art

Art concepts explored: Line, shape, value, texture, and color

Art media used: Graphite pencils, charcoal, pastels, ink, watercolor, acrylic paint, and collage


Maps and the Geospatial Revolution

Course Faculty

Anthony C. Robinson

About the Course

Learn how advances in geospatial technology and analytical methods have changed how we do everything, and discover how to make maps and analyze geographic patterns using the latest tools.

The past decade has seen an explosion of new mechanisms for understanding and using location information in widely-accessible technologies. This Geospatial Revolution has resulted in the development of consumer GPS tools, interactive web maps, and location-aware mobile devices. These radical advances are making it possible for people from all walks of life to use, collect, and understand spatial information like never before.

This course brings together core concepts in cartography, geographic information systems, and spatial thinking with real-world examples to provide the fundamentals necessary to engage with geography beyond the surface level. We will explore what makes spatial information special, how spatial data is created, how spatial analysis is conducted, and how to design maps so that they are effective at telling the stories we wish to share. To gain experience using this knowledge, we will work with the latest mapping and analysis software to explore geographic problems.


Creativity Innovation and Change

Course Faculty

Jack V. Matson, Darrell Velegol and Kathryn W. Jablokow

About the Course

Explore your unique brand of creativity to gain deeper personal insight. Learn and apply new techniques to make innovative contributions in your own world. Solve complex problems and drive change creatively.

This course empowers learners to develop their creative human potential to improve, enhance, and transform their businesses, communities, and personal lives. Processes like Intelligent Fast Failure will teach you rapid prototyping skills, while the Adaption-Innovation creative style spectrum will help you understand how and why your ideas are unique—and how you can work better with others to solve complex problems.

Personal reflection tools like CENTER add a character development dimension to the course that is an important first step towards unlocking your creative potential. Along the way, you will engage with a rich set of tools, exercises, and metrics in order to understand these concepts and how they impact the development of your creative life and career.


Epidemics: Infectious Disease Dynamics

Course Faculty

Marcel Salathé, Ottar N. Bjornstad, Andrew Read, Rachel A. Smith, Mary L. Poss, David P. Hughes, Peter Hudson and Matthew Ferrari

About the Course

Malaria, HIV/AIDS, influenza, measles—we are in a constant battle against infectious diseases. This is a course about the dynamics of such diseases—how they emerge, how they spread around the globe, and how they can best be controlled.

Not so long ago, it was almost guaranteed that you would die of an infectious disease. In fact, had you been born just 150 years ago, your chances of dying of an infectious disease before you had reached the tender age of five would have been extremely high.

Since then, science has come a long way in understanding infectious diseases—what they are, how they spread, and how they can be prevented. But diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, or the flu are still major killers worldwide, and novel emerging diseases are a constant threat to public health. In addition, the bugs are evolving. Antibiotics, our most potent weapon against bacterial infections, are losing their power because the bacteria are becoming resistant. In this course, we will explore the major themes of infectious diseases dynamics.

After we have covered the basics, we will be looking at the dynamics of flu, and why we are worried about flu pandemics. We will be looking at the dynamics of childhood diseases such as measles and whooping cough, which were once considered almost eradicated, but are now making a comeback. We will explore malaria, and use it as a case study of the evolution of drug resistance. We will even be looking at social networks—how diseases can spread from you to your friends to your friends’ friends, and so on. And of course, we will be talking about vaccination, too. We will also be talking about how mobile phones, social media, and crowd-sourcing are revolutionizing disease surveillance, giving rise to a new field of digital epidemiology. And yes, we will be talking about zombies—not human zombies, but zombie ants whose brains are hijacked by an infectious fungus.

And there is one more thing: during the course, we will be running a massive online epidemic with you, the participants—virtually, of course. We are looking forward to having you join us for an exciting course!


Energy, the Environment, and Our Future

Course Faculty

Richard B. Alley

About the Course

Get Rich and Save the Earth…Or Else! Learn about the past, present, and possible futures of human energy use.

Energy use has done great good for humans by giving those in the developed world the equivalent of 100 energy “serfs” to do our bidding, making up roughly 10 percent of the economy, and powering most of the economy. However, the unintended consequences of energy use are affecting people around the world and changing the climate in ways that will make life much harder. Numerous options exist for development of a sustainable energy system that provides a stronger economy, more jobs, and greater security that is more consistent with ethical principles. The course explores these issues.

“Energy, the Environment, and Our Future” will combine student-centered instructional materials and film clips from the PBS TV series Earth: The Operators’ Manual to tell the history, present, and possible futures of human energy use.