further learning

Lee Radziwill at her desk in Paris. 

What a luxury it is to have time. Time to read, time to think, time to learn. I am gorging myself on the written word, and after three years in a corporate job I can feel my intellect and inspiration slowly seeping back.

I haven't studied in an academic environment for more than five years, and coming to it at my own pace and direction feels precious. I love the ease of learning online and marvel that I can take a course at Columbia, for free, from my living room in Hong Kong. It's learning purely for interest and learning, rather than there being any impetus to complete a degree for the purpose of gaining a job, or simply complete.

Here are some of the resources I've found, and several of the courses I am taking or plan to.


Coursera offers papers from universities around the world, from Harvard and UCLA to Oxford and Edinburgh. I've found the approach systematic and easy to follow, with lectures divided into weekly snippets, regular assignments and set deadlines (along with email reminders). The course I am taking is high quality (the lecturer is on a UN special taskforce in his subject) and the tests stretch my skills and add new resources to my research approaches. Like anything, you can take this course as a bare bones opportunity, and simply watch the lectures and take the tests each week; or you can fully immerse yourself and follow the recommended reading too. There are a mixture of humanities, science, business and technology papers; and a blend of courses which are 'live' and set to start at a particular date alongside ones that are available anytime and you can carry out at your own pace.

Currently taking...

Columbia University, The Age of Sustainable Development

On my list...

University of Amsterdam, Classical Sociological Theory
Stanford University, Child Nutrition and Cooking
MOMA, Modern Art and Ideas
CalArts, Fundamentals of Graphic Design


Experts in their field offer instructive videos. These range from perfecting Instagram photography (I know) to crafting the perfect cup of coffee; through to the less flippant. The coding, design and photography ones on this site seem to be the best, with tutors such as Jessica Hische a highlight.

On my list...

Knife Skills
Basics of Photoshop
Bread making 
Perfect coffee by the founder of Blue Bottle
Seth Godin on Marketing 
Daniel Krieger (NYTimes) on Food Photography

Note that A Cup of Jo is offering a discounted subscription to Skillshare at the moment.

iTunes University

There are more than 150 universities, as well as cultural institutions such as the National Theatre and NASA, on iTunes U which you can access through an app on your phone or iPad, or via the iTunes store on your laptop. I'm making huge assumptions that everyone uses Apple hardware as I do!

On my list...

Tate's series of Artist Lectures (Ai Weiwei! Dan Snow! Sigmar Polke! Nan Goldin!)
Yale's School of Architecture Public Lecture Series
Oxford's Literature and Form and Bodleian Libraries Series
London School of Economics Gender Institute Research Talks


Open Culture's brilliant and comprehensive lists of freely accessible lectures, books, films and more (starting here with 851 free art books from MoMA, The Getty and more).
Into Mind on making learning part of your daily routine.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Natalie. This is kitty purrfect.