WellesleyX: Online Courses

Italian flag on a computer screen

WellesleyX offerings represent Wellesley’s breadth of disciplines, as well as some of its most popular courses.

Wellesley became the first liberal arts college to join the edX learning collaborative in 2012, and also the first women’s college to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs). Wellesley faculty continue to eagerly explore ways to experiment with MOOC technology to enhance classroom teaching—as well as ways that WellesleyX courses might advance the learning opportunities offered by MOOCs to date. Ravi Ravishanker, associate dean of WellesleyX and the College's chief information officer, says, “The possibilities are endless and exciting; the challenge is to harmonize the capabilities of the new technology with the academic rigor that is at Wellesley’s core.”

All courses are open and offered free of cost to anyone with an Internet connection—regardless of gender or geography—through edX.

Italian Online

Wellesley offers Italian Language and Culture: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced on edX. In a series of three courses, students start by learning the basics of speaking, listening, reading and writing, progress to enriching their vocabulary and expanding their conversational skills, and conclude by perfecting their Italian with the ability to express opinions and hypotheses. Courses are taught in the context of major themes in Italian culture.

Wellesley also offers AP® Italian Language and Culture, which is designed for learners with an intermediate to advanced knowledge of Italian. This online course presents the complexity of Italian contemporary society from a variety of perspectives and using authentic media, such as newspaper articles, video interviews with Italian speakers on a variety of cultural subjects, radio programs, relevant realia (advertisements and TV ads), and literary excerpts from some of the major writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Optional synchronous instruction, in groups of 6-7 students each, is conducted exclusively in Italian via online live instruction classes. These classes allow all learners (those who are studying for the AP Italian exam, and other learners who want to advanced their skills in Italian) to practice interpersonal communication in unrehearsed settings, while experiencing a full language immersion experience.

Learn more about our Italian Online opportunities.

Past courses:

Anthropology 207x: Introduction to Human Evolution

First Run, class began September 25, 2013
Second Run, class began May 6, 2015
Available as a self-paced course

Adam Van Arsdale, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

"This class in paleoanthropology features a virtual lab in which users will get to analyze 3-D fossils such as skulls and drop in on simulated excavations using images and video of archeological sites, including in places like Kazakhstan, Dmanisi in Georgia, and the Great Rift Valley in Africa, many of them visited in person, Indiana Jones-style, by professor Adam Van Arsdale." - Boston.com

As contemporary humans, we are a product of our evolutionary past. That past can be directly observed through the study of the human fossil record, the materials preserved for archaeological study, and the DNA of living and extinct human populations. This course will provide an overview of human evolutionary history from the present--contemporary human variation in a comparative context--through our last common ancestor with the living great apes, some 5-7 million years in the past. Emphasis will be placed on major evolutionary changes in the development of humans and the methodological approaches used by paleoanthropologists and related investigators to develop that knowledge. The course will begin by asking basic questions about how evolution operates to shape biological variation and what patterns of variation look like in living humans and apes. We will then look at how the human lineage first began to differentiate from apes, the rise and fall of the Australopithecines, the origin and dispersal of the genus Homo, and eventually the radical evolutionary changes associated with the development of agricultural practices in the past 15,000 years. Throughout the course students will be exposed to the primary data, places and theories that shape our understanding of human evolution.

See Anthropology 207x: Introduction to Human Evolution on edX.

History 229x: Was Alexander Great? The Life, Leadership, and Legacies of History’s Greatest Warrior

January 2014
Guy MacLean Rogers, Mildred Lane Kemper Professor of Classics and History

Alexander the Great conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks, fused the eastern and western peoples of his empire, and became a god – before his 33rd birthday. This course explores the life, leadership, and legacies of history’s warrior, and one of its most controversial leaders, an ambiguous genius whose story helps us to understand not only the history of warfare, but also different ideas about human sexuality, the history of relations between east and west, and the religious beliefs both of ancient polytheists and modern monotheists.

See History 229x: Was Alexander Great? The Life, Leadership, and Legacies of History’s Greatest Warrior on edX.

Sociology 108x: Introduction to Global Sociology

September 2014
Smitha Radhakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Sociology offers us a powerful set of tools with which to interpret our relationship to a global social and cultural economy. This course extends conventional sociology to foster an understanding of how the conditions of our everyday lives fit in with broader trends of continuity and change in regions across the world. We use the global garment industry as a vehicle for mobilizing our sociological imaginations, and follow the movements of capital, materials, and labor in the garment industry to examine the economic and cultural exchanges that keep our complex world in motion. Along the way, we’ll learn to critically read social scientific texts and construct evidence-based arguments.

See Sociology 108x: Introduction to Global Sociology on edX

English 112x: Shakespeare: On the Page and in Performance

October 2014
Yu Jin Ko, Professor of English, in collaboration with Diego Arciniegas, Senior Lecturer in Theatre Studies

Shakespeare wrote for a popular audience and was immensely successful. Shakespeare is also rightly regarded as one of the greatest playwrights the world has known. This course will try to understand both Shakespeare’s popularity and his greatness by starting from a simple premise: that the fullest appreciation of Shakespeare can be achieved only when literary study is combined with analysis of the plays as theatre. Hence, as we delve into the dimensions that make Shakespeare’s plays so extraordinary--from the astonishing power of their language to their uncanny capacity to illuminate so much of human life--we will also explore them in performance from Shakespeare’s own theatre to the modern screen. At the same time, actors will occasionally join our effort and demonstrate ways of bringing the text alive as living theatre. Plays to be studied will include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, King Lear, and The Winter's Tale.

See English 112x: Shakespeare: On the Page and in Performance on edX