Cornell sinks teeth into four new MOOCs

We’re going to need a bigger MOOC.

If you’re swimming in the Internet ocean searching for massive open online courses (MOOCs), Cornell will offer four new ones in 2016: shark biodiversity and conservation, the science and politics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), an introduction to engineering simulations, and how deals get done – mergers and acquisitions principles.

With about 25 percent of today’s 1,200 shark species at risk for extinction, the new course explores issues in biology, documents the shark world’s extinction crisis and trains new citizen scientists. Instructors: William Bemis, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; Warren D. Allmon, director of the Paleontological Research Institution and professor of paleontology; Betty McGuire, senior lecturer of ecology and evolutionary biology; Elizabeth Balko, senior lecturer of ecology and evolutionary biology; Joshua Moyer, research technician with ecology and evolutionary biology; and Ian Tibbetts, associate professor of biology, University of Queensland, Australia;.

Grasp the political, economic, food security, health and environmental perspectives surrounding GMOs. Sarah Evanega, adjunct assistant professor of plant breeding and genetics; Ron Herring, professor of government; and David Just, professor of applied economics and management, will engage students in critical analysis of arguments in the GMO debate. They will teach students how to evaluate the data quality and the principles of social psychology as applied to politicized scientific controversies, and how to connect their personal values to positions based on evidence. 

Dive into computational fluid dynamics, heat transfer, solid mechanics and finite element analysis in a hands-on introduction to engineering simulations with Rajesh Bhaskaran, senior lecturer and Swanson Director of Engineering Simulation, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The course includes guest lecturers from the engineering industry.

peppers and men
Andrew Chignell, associate professor of philosophy (left) and William Starr, assistant professor of philosophy, teach "The Ethics of Eating," starting April 15.

Charles Whitehead, professor of law, shows lawyers, non-lawyers and other students of business the reality on how deals get done. From covenants to contracts to conditions of closing, Whitehead offers steps to structure a variety of transactions, including acquisitions, mergers, bank loans and employment agreements.

The MOOCs were selected by the Online Learning Development Group, led by Laura Brown, senior vice provost for undergraduate education, with input from Academic Technologies and the Center for Teaching Excellence.

None of the 2016 Cornell MOOCs has an official title yet. As they will be developed this upcoming summer and fall, more information about their start dates will be available on

In the meantime, several other Cornell MOOCs are available this spring:

The Computing Technology Inside Your Smartphone” starts March 10.

American Capitalism: A History,” a course on how economic development fueled the United States’ evolution from 13 backwater colonies to a global power, starts March 23.

Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology,” explores why and how people come together to care for nature and cultivate community in places marked by disaster, war, poverty and environmental degradation. Starts April 10.

The Ethics of Eating,” delves into the ethical issues you confront each time you decide what to eat or purchase food.  Join a diverse group of philosophers, food scientists and farmers in this exciting discussion. Starts April 15.

Over 13,000 students are taking a very popular course, “Introduction to Global Hospitality Management,” from the world’s top-rated School of Hotel Administration. Started Feb. 4, and you can still sign up

Networks, Crowds and Markets” started Feb. 16. The course examines critical questions posed by how the social, economic and technological realms of the modern world interconnect.

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Joe Schwartz