Online Courses

Student discussionEDUC 241  Promising Paradigms: Issues and Innovations in American Classrooms

(cross-listed as Public Policy Studies 245)

This course examines promising educational initiatives and reform efforts, analyses federal and state mandates and policies concerning educational issues, and explores innovative ideas and programs designed to advance classrooms into the twenty-first century. Focus will be given to the ethical and political implications of reforming America’s schools within the context of policy development. This course includes both synchronous and asynchronous components. Offered in Term 1 (May 16-June 28). To obtain permission to register or ask questions, contact Professor Kristen Stephens at

NEUROSCI 202  Medical Neuroscience

Medical Neuroscience explores the functional organization and neurophysiology of the human central nervous system, while providing a neurobiological framework for understanding human behavior. In this course, learners discover the organization of the neural systems in the brain and spinal cord that mediate sensation, motivate bodily action, and integrate sensorimotor signals with memory, emotion and related faculties of cognition. The course builds upon general knowledge acquired through prior studies of cell and molecular biology, systems physiology, and mammalian anatomy, with a primary focus on the human central nervous system.

This online course is designed to include all of the core concepts in neurophysiology and clinical neuroanatomy that would be presented in most first-year neuroscience courses in schools of medicine and in the core curriculum of a baccalaureate academic program in neuroscience. Thus, the course aims to faithfully present in scope and rigor a medical school caliber/neuroscience major course experience.

This course comprises six units of content organized into 12 ‘weekly’ folders, with an additional folder for a comprehensive final exam; however, the course is self-paced and can be completed within the time frame of a 6-week Duke Summer Session term.

  • Unit 1 Neuroanatomy covers the surface anatomy of the human brain, its internal structure, and the overall organization of sensory and motor systems in the brainstem and spinal cord.
  • Unit 2 Neural Signaling addresses the fundamental mechanisms of neuronal excitability, signal generation and propagation, synaptic transmission, postsynaptic mechanisms of signal integration, and neural plasticity. 
  • Unit 3 Sensory Systems covers the overall organization and function of the sensory systems that contribute to our sense of self relative to the world around us: somatic sensory systems, proprioception, vision, audition, the balance senses, and the chemical senses. 
  • Unit 4 Motor Systems examines the organization and function of the brain and spinal mechanisms that govern bodily movement. 
  • Unit 5 Brain Development explores the neurobiological mechanisms for building the nervous system in embryonic development and in early postnatal life, and how the brain changes across the lifespan. 
  • Unit 6 Cognition concludes with a survey of the association systems of the cerebral hemispheres, with an emphasis on cortical networks that integrate perception, memory and emotion in organizing behavior and planning for the future; it also covers brain systems for maintaining homeostasis and regulating brain state.

The overall goal of this course is to provide the foundation for understanding the neurological sciences and the impairments of sensation, action, and cognition that accompany injury, disease, or dysfunction in the human central nervous system.

Course Introduction Video

All course materials are contained on the online course site. Recommended readings are from Neuroscience, 6th Ed. (Oxford University Press, 2018). Recommended prerequisites: knowledge of biology and chemistry typically acquired through two years or more of study. (Term dates: July 2 through August 12)

PUBPOL 290S  Writing for Public Policy

Every student of public policy needs to write clearly, succinctly, and with conviction. This course is a writing class designed to teach the basics of the forms of writing that are likely to be used by public policy students when they enter the work world. These include letters to the editor, op-eds, policy briefs, memos, executive summaries, speeches, committee reports, grant proposals, and other relevant documents. Assignments, incorporating editing and rewriting opportunities, include four short (2-5 pages) papers and one long (15 pages) paper. Class members will participate in an online chat room and in online meetings with one another. Everyone will have the opportunity to work on personal strengths and weaknesses and to design a project relevant to work or an internship. Offered in Term 1 (May 16-June 28) and Term 2 (July 2-August 12). To obtain permission to register or ask questions, contact Professor Diane Weddington at

PUBPOL 290S  Free Speech, Hate Speech, No Speech: The First Amendment in a Changing Society

Centered upon the fundamentals of understanding the First Amendment in relation to speech, this course utilizes case histories focusing on the evolution of control of speech in American culture. Students will learn what hate speech is and when it is legal and when not.  Students will discuss political correctness in speech especially on college campuses. Students will identify and understand both classic and contemporary examples of free speech through case studies and current literature. Organized around extensive readings, this class will be conducted through online lectures, scheduled chat room, and peer group meetings through a Sakai site. Graded work will include one op-ed (3 pages) and one in-depth analysis of a historical case about free speech (20 pages). Offered in Term 2 (July 2-August 12). To obtain permission to register or ask questions, contact Professor Diane Weddington at

STA 104 Data Analysis and Statistical Inference

This course introduces students to the discipline of statistics as a science of understanding and analyzing data. Throughout the academic term, students will learn how to make effective use of data in the face of uncertainty: how to collect data, how to analyze data, and how to use data to make inferences and conclusions about real world phenomena. Focus will be given to principles underlying quantitative research in social sciences, humanities, and public policy. This course includes both synchronous and asynchronous components. The synchronous component is comprised of daily (Monday - Friday) virtual meetings devoted to discussion of material, problem solving, and data analysis labs involving use of statistical software. Offered in Term 1 (May 16-June 28) and Term 2 (July 2-August 12). This course is an online equivalent to STA 101 Data Analysis and Statistical Inference and is not open to students who have already successfully completed STA 101 or who have credit for STA 102 or above. To obtain permission to register or ask questions, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Department of Statistical Science, Professor Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel, at

WRITING 270 Composing the Internship Experience: Digital Rhetoric and Social Media Discourse

Students will have the opportunity to meaningfully reflect on and productively narrate internship or other work-related experiences using digital rhetoric and social media. Topics and readings include theoretical perspectives on social media, composing in digital platforms, and examining audience, purpose, and context in the public sphere. Students will apply course concepts to internship/work experience to produce the following four social media writing projects: 1) a semester-long blog about the work experience/internship (at least 500 words each/6-8 total entries); 2) weekly microblogging on a platform such as Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat (four posts per week); 3) a digital story about your internship experience using a platform such as iMovie, Spotify, or Toon Doo; and 4) a digital-based project of your own choosing and related to your internship/work experience, such as a resource website, a vox-pop, a Ted-like talk, a Prezi, an infographic, etc.). Students will participate in an extensive cycle of drafting, feedback, and revision for each writing project, including feedback from both instructor and peers. Offered in Term 1 but extending for eight weeks. To obtain permission to register or ask questions, contact Professor Denise Comer at Video course description available at Youtube. The course will be conducted online using Sakai and Wordpress. It will include a combination of self-paced course materials each week, and weekly small-group or individual writing workshops scheduled by taking into consideration students' work schedules. The course does not require any prior knowledge of social media, nor does it require making any writing public beyond the course. Special dates: May 29 - July 24. Prerequisite: Writing 101