8 online courses you can dive into this summer

What does summertime mean to you? Maybe the summer months offer vacation time and a more relaxed schedule at work, providing opportunities to learn and try new things. Perhaps you see the summer as a time to prepare for the fall, when you might be starting a new program or project, or to accelerate your professional progress. Whatever your midsummer night’s dreams and midyear ambitions may be, Penn LPS Online has a course for you.

Ready to make your summer plans with us? Summer courses begin on May 28. Current Penn LPS Online students can register for courses via Path@Penn. If you are new to our programs, you can enroll as a certificate or general course-taking student through May 5. Enrollment is easy—just complete and submit the enrollment form and nonrefundable fee ($25) through our online application system. New Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) students can apply by April 1 for a summer start.

Understand the world today—with nuance

DIGC 3600: Applications of Digital Culture

In March 2024, the United States government passed a bill that could potentially lead to banning the popular social media app TikTok, ostensibly due to privacy concerns. Proponents of the bill say that data shared through this multinational platform could pose a national security risk; critics argue that banning TikTok curtails their freedom of speech. This political conflict dramatizes a dimension of technology that we may not often think about as users and consumers: the ethics of digital media.

DIGC 3600: Applications of Digital Culture is designed to dig into difficult questions such as these: What are our ethical responsibilities as digital users and consumers? How do we develop norms and expectations around digital privacy and communication, and when do we question or challenge those norms? What boundaries might we need between digital culture and our daily lives to protect our own well-being? This course draws upon foundational vocabulary and knowledge in digital culture, so you do need to have taken either DIGC 1200 or DIGC 1600 to take this course. Fortunately, DIGC 1200: Digital Literacy and Cultural Change is also offered in the summer, and you can enroll in the introductory course now to explore advanced material in a later term.

  • Instructor: Meryl Krieger, PhD, Senior Learning Designer, Arts and Sciences Online Learning, University of Pennsylvania
  • 8-week course offered in summer 1 (May 28 – July 23, 2024)
  • May be taken as an individual course
  • May be applied toward the Certificate in Digital Strategies and Culture
  • May be applied toward the BAAS concentrations in Individualized Studies and Literature, Culture, and Tradition
  • Fulfills the BAAS degree requirement in Ethical Reasoning
  • Prerequisites: Either DIGC 1200 or DIGC 1600

SDEI 1700: Gender and Sexuality in Everyday Life

When the top 13 most challenged books (documented by the American Library Association) are all cited for LGBTQIA+ content and sexual themes, you know that more than just personal preferences are at stake. This course asks you to consider how gender and sexuality are represented in media and popular culture, how gender and sexuality show up in your own personal and professional life, and how varying cultural contexts can influence the way you think about or experience these issues. Through this course, you develop the vocabulary and theoretical frameworks to understand critical concepts such as intersectionality, gender performance, and identity—and, as part of the Certificate in Social Difference, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the course will connect gender and sexuality to larger conversations about communities, belonging, and justice.

GLBS 2800: Contemporary Issues in Global Health

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have put a spotlight on the concept of “global health,” coronavirus is far from the only pressing issue in health worldwide. Drawing from the field of medical anthropology—which examines disease, health, and medical treatment in a social context—this course explores how people in different parts of the world are affected by disease, poverty, unequal access to care, and more. Through engaging with topics such as structural violence and global pharmaceuticals, and learning how social, economic, and political forces influence health outcomes for individuals and groups, you’ll develop your own toolkit for engaging with global health issues in the news and beyond.

GLBS 3800: Portraits of Contemporary Russia: Politics, Culture, and Conflict

Following the collapse of the USSR in 1991, many observers predicted that Russia would join the world community as a democratic, free-market nation among others. In the decades since, Russia has seen its democratic institutions coopted by oligarchs and then by Putin’s political machine, mass oppositional protests in 2011-2012, the renewed triumph of Putin’s conservative “patriotic regime,” and the unprovoked 2022 invasion of Ukraine. This course is designed to help you understand how and why this nation initiated a continuing war that impacts people all over the globe.

You do not need prior knowledge of Russian history, culture, or language for this course, which will explore media representations of Russian history, collective identity and patriotism, intellectuals and elites, gender and sexuality, consumption and wealth, the career and public image of Vladimir Putin, geopolitics, and war. Through journalism, novels, films, televised media, and the internet, you will study how works of art and culture comment upon the political.

Improve your data literacy

PROW 2000: Writing with Data

When you think of professional writing, you may be imagining text communications like emails and reports. But as different professional sectors increasingly use data to make recommendations, support claims, or persuade audiences, your professional communication may include data visualizations: consider an academic researcher placing numerical tables into a journal article, a fundraising professional creating pie charts to show audience demographics, or anyone who has made a budget pitch or presentation. When it comes to data, anything from the color of the lines to the amount of white space can be a rhetorical tool in making your case. This course is designed to increase your literacy as a reader of data visualizations as well as to provide practice with online data visualization tools that will help you tell your story in an effective, appealing way. 

MTHS 2200: Introduction to Applied Statistics

Quantitative data can be an incredibly important tool for problem-solving and decision-making in the workplace; even if crunching the numbers is not a critical part of your job responsibilities, it is helpful to have some familiarity with how numbers work. This introductory statistics course covers the fundamental techniques for using sample data to make inferences about populations, culminating in specific procedures for statistical inferences from large and small samples, single and multiple linear regressions, and measuring correlation.

Ignite your imagination

CRWR 2500: Writing and Meditation

Bring an open mind to this course: The broad-ranging syllabus includes sacred texts and scientific research as well as music, visual art, and literature. Through these art forms and class discussions, you’ll explore how both meditation and creative practice can rewire your brain, and how practices such as attention, movement, listening, and dreaming might enhance your experience as a reader, writer, and lifelong learner. As in other writing workshops, you can expect writing prompts and attentive feedback throughout the course. Experienced writers will find that unconventional approaches and fresh perspectives can challenge and inspire your craft. And if you’ve been curious about creative writing but hesitant to take the plunge, this course may be the perfect opportunity—where else can you practice cultivating mindfulness and creativity in the same workshop?

CLSC 1000: Greek and Roman Mythology

What is a myth? We can all probably point to a few old stories that we know: legends of gods and heroes, origin stories, fables with clear moral messages, and tales with muddier ethics. Yet it’s not so easy to pinpoint what all these old stories are for—and why we still share them. Do they capture universal truths or insights into particular places and times? Are they meant to entertain us, warn us, or deceive us? In this course, you can revisit classic mythology with fresh eyes and learn not only how the ancient Greeks and Romans understood their own myths, but how and why they still captivate us today.

  • Instructor: Peter T. Struck, Professor and Chair of Classical Studies
  • 8-week course offered in summer 1 (May 28 – July 23, 2024)
  • May be taken as an individual course
  • May be applied toward the BAAS concentrations in Individualized Studies and Literature, Culture, and Tradition
  • Fulfills the BAAS degree requirement in Qualitative Analysis

This is just a preview of the online courses open to you this summer—there are many other subjects and skills to explore. View our course guide to see the full range of what’s available in the upcoming terms.

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