Psychology of Political Activism: Smith's MOOC Launches This Week

Activist Byllye Avery, founder of the National Black Women's Health Project, and Alicia Bowling '17 at Smith's women's history archives, the centerpiece of the college's new MOOC.

Smith’s first MOOC, on the Psychology of Political Activism, launched Tuesday, March 15, on edX.org. Courses start the week of March 21, and registration is open now.  

The seven-week course—taught by psychology professor Lauren Duncan and based on the popular in-person Smith course that she’s taught for 17 years—is open to learners from around the world at no charge.

Katherine Rowe, Smith’s provost and dean of the faculty, notes that since the course’s inception, “Three goals have inspired the Smith MOOC team: to create a distinctive online format that is true to the discussion-based, collaborative culture of learning that we so value at Smith; to make Smith’s unique archival collections in women’s history accessible to a wide audience in an inclusive way; and to highlight Smith’s commitment to positive change in the world.”

“The MOOC topic and its collaboratively produced course units (crafted by faculty, staff, students and activists working together) represent a uniquely liberal arts perspective on how to create and run a MOOC,” Rowe said.

Here’s a quick look at the course so far:

  • Number of students enrolled: 5,168 (and growing!)
  • Median student age: 29
  • Countries represented in the MOOC student body: 147
  • Percent of enrollment from outside the U.S.: 61%
  • Top five countries represented: U.S., U.K., Brazil, India, Canada
  • Gender:  84.1% Female,  14.1% Male, 1.8% Other
  • Education: High school diploma or less: 24%, College degree: 41.5%, Advanced degree: 32.7%
  • Activists featured in the course: 9 (including Gloria Steinem ’56, Loretta Ross, Katsi Cook and others)
  • Smith students who helped create and/or monitor the course: 23
  • Psychological theories discussed: 6
  • Number of course sessions: 7
  • Sophia Smith Collection items featured in the course: 263
  • Number of short videos created for the MOOC: 58
  • Estimated participation time: Just 3-5 hours per week
  • Total number of courses offered through edX right now: 889
  • Other edX courses focusing on political activism, featuring items from one of the world’s best women’s history archives, with content created by students: 0

Want to learn more about Smith’s MOOC? Check out the course facebook page.