Netflix for nerds is here and it’s called The Great Courses Plus. This new lecture streaming service might just be the best thing I’ve ever discovered on the internet (no exaggeration). My eyes are bleary and my head is whirring with exciting information from disparate realms of academia thanks to long nights of binge-learning. But what are the best Great Courses you can enjoy right now? Well, it depends on your interests but here are the Great Courses that I have personally loved.
It’s no surprise that Professor Robert Greenberg is one of the Great Course’s top lecturers. He is brilliant. Pick any one of his courses and you are in for a treat. Greenberg is a showman, a comedian, a poet, and a great teacher of music.
I am only a few lectures in and I have already learned – and laughed – so much. Do you know what Beethoven’s 2nd symphony is really about? Or why a volcanic eruption 4,000 years ago in the Mediterranean stopped Caesar from watching gladiator fights on HD TV? No? There’s your reason to check out the first lecture alone of this outstanding course.
I’m also thoroughly enjoying some of Greenberg’s other Great Courses:
- How to Listen to and Understand Opera
- The 23 Greatest Piano Solo Works
- Music as a Mirror of History
I have always felt like I was missing something whenever I went to art galleries. I always loved art but I sensed that there was a deeper nuance of appreciation just beyond my grasp. This Great Course has confirmed my suspicion because it has greatly increased my appreciation and understanding of works of art. Thank you, Professor Sharon Latchaw Hirsch for giving me a great artistic toolkit in a very appealing manner.
I’ve learned tons about colour, composition, perspective, time, texture, and more. We looked at so many beautiful sculptures, paintings, and drawings and ran the gamut of artistic eras from renaissance to baroque and realism through to postmodernism. This was a truly wonderful course and highly recommended for anyone who wants to appreciate art more.
As a japanophile of many years, Professor Mark J. Ravina’s Great Course on the cultural history of Japan was fascinating. If you have even a tiny bit of interest in Japan, this course will blow you away.
You’ll learn a ton of cool stuff about the language, buddhism, samurai, noh and kabuki theatre, block prints, gardens, haiku, food, and more.
I’ve always been fascinated with biology’s role in determining human behaviour but this felt like an insurmountable topic for me to come to grips with for most of my life. Professor Robert Sapolsky, however, really puts complex ideas into ways that are easy to understanding. This is a really compelling Great Course. It’s hard to pick favourite parts from these courses but the lectures on the neurobiology of aggression really stood out.
This is my kind of science course. It’s all well and good learning about the mechanics of the human body and mind but what about practical application? What about actually using this knowledge to improve the quality and well-being of our lives and the lives of those we love? Well that’s what Professor Jason M. Satterfield’s Great Course is all about.
We cover a lot of ground in this course: everything from flight or flight, immunology, cognitive function, and the biology of emotion to disease prevention, coping with modern-day stress and how relationships, society, and spirituality affects your health. This is the course they should have taught us in school!
I also have my eyes on Satterfield’s other Great Course, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain.
Great Courses On My Watchlist
Each Great Course is pretty long, typically totalling around 30 lectures, each at least 30 minutes long with an accompanying course booklet for further exploration. As such, I haven’t been able to watch loads of these courses yet. But you can bet my watchlist is bloated with exciting courses I can’t wait to watch. Here are a few I’m particularly looking forward to:
- The Story of Human Language
- The Big Questions of Philosophy
- Memory and the Human Lifespan
- The Decisive Battles Of World History
- Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance
- Books That Matter: The Analects Of Confucius
- Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond
- Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity
- Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters Of Literature
It used to be the case that if you wanted one of the Teaching Company’s Great Courses, you had shell out $200 to $500 or wait for one of their special 70% off sales so you could grab a course for a more modest price. These courses are certainly worth their weight in gold but at those sort of price tags, you can’t really blast your way through a lot of them. Unless you’re mega-rich (which I know many Great Courses fans are) you’re limited to choosing just a few areas to learn about. But now thanks to their new on-demand education streaming service, you have access to the world’s best lecturers and some of the most fascinating information you can find anywhere in the world.
The Great Courses Plus offers the first month for free and after that it’s around $15 per month with different special deals. I was intrigued and signed up for the free trial just to see what the fuss was about. I wasn’t expecting much but just five minutes into my first lecture, I was converted. This is extraordinary value for money for anyone who cherishes lifelong education.
Check them out. Then let me know what Great Courses you recommend.