free Harvard online courses
Check out these free Harvard online courses from the comfort of your own home. Source: Apu Gomes/AFP

Question: How can you study at Harvard without actually jumping through hoops and hurdles or having a rich, celebrity or legacy parent to get admitted to its ivory towers?

Answer: By taking one of the 67 online courses by Harvard currently going free.

The Ivy League university just announced these online courses, in partnership with EdEX and which range from one week to 12 weeks in duration, are now available on their online course catalogue.

There are great choices for international students to check out during your free time in lockdown or while taking a break from online classes. When better than in a pandemic shuttering everyone indoors to finally get around to learning something new or exploring that long-forgotten hobby — really, there aren’t any more excuses to fall back on anymore.

Plus, it’s easy to get started. Just choose a course you like and fill out an application form. Then you’re all set to becoming a better, more enlightened person!

The Harvard free online courses are impressively varied, so there is surely something for every student. We went through the list and picked out five that sound so interesting and so unique that you never knew you needed to learn about it.

Here they are. Settle in and start streaming:

An Introduction to Tai Chi

free Harvard online courses

One of the 67 free Harvard online courses involve learning the benefits of Tai Chai. Source: Wang Zhao/AFP

Most Asian students are familiar with Tai Chi, but we often don’t give it much thought as we jog past the group of aunties and uncles slowly working what looks like slow-motion kung fu in the park.

Don’t be so quick to dismiss it as an old-fashioned fitness regime, however, as there are plenty of physical and mental benefits you never knew existed with this martial arts.

One of the only fitness-based free online courses by Harvard, it will enlighten you on how Tai Chi — an exercise often called “meditation in motion” — can strengthen your heart, improve your posture, reduce stress, improve flexibility and much more!

You can also re-watch the course as often as you want and do the relaxing moves demonstrated by tai chi master, Stanwood Chang, in the comfort of your living room or bedroom.

Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather

There is a famous quote attributed to one of the sassiest literary figures of all time: “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

And on any other day, we would agree with him. But this course is different.

For one, if you can structure a course about weather forecasts to six weeks and make looking out at a window to see if there’s a storm coming interesting, then this course is on to something.

If you’ve always been fascinated by weather patterns, this course will teach you how to identify cloud types and features, how to estimate local wind speed and direction, how to collect and interpret data and observations to predict the next day’s weather. Most practical of all, it’ll even teach you how to avoid being struck by lightning.

Trust us, it is much more interesting than its title lets on.

PredictionX: Omens, Oracles & Prophecies

Tired of watching creepy movies on Netflix but still fascinated about omens and oracles?

This online course is only one week long, and gives you an immersive learning experience as you explore pre-scientific prediction systems ranging from ancient Chinese bone burning to the Oracle of Delphi to modern astrology and tarot.

This free module is part of PredictionX, which examines the efforts of human beings to predict the future over all of recorded history.

free Harvard online courses

Learn about gender roles in folklore and fairy tales. Source: Mike Coppola/Getty Images/AFP

When The Princess Saves Herself: Gender and Retold Fairy Tales

Millennial and Gen-Z women today are slowly realising that they didn’t really have the best role models depicted in fairy tales growing up. We’re talking about you Aurora and Ariel.

Have you ever wondered how folklore and fairytales shape the way we think about gender roles in society? Why did characters like Cinderella and Snow White need to be saved by men (not just men, but strong, rich and handsome princes) when they could simply save themselves? What message does this send to society?

Well, this course dissects the above issues and more. It will introduce you to the study of male and female roles and explore how we process reinterpretations of gender roles in folktales.

Pyramids of Giza: Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology

Let’s face it. We’re all fascinated by pyramids and ancient Egyptian culture. Take your fascination to a whole new level with this introductory course where you will explore Egyptian archaeology in eight weeks.

You’ll also discover how digital tools today like 3D-modelling are unravelling the mysteries of the ancient tombs and temples within the pyramids and how they allow us to visualise these monuments in new ways.

Since you can’t travel anytime soon, why not take a virtual trip to ancient Egypt?

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