'Hinduism Through Its Scriptures' and 'Personal Finance' are new edX Course Offerings from Wellesley Professors

March 4, 2016
An image from the HarvardX XSeries World Religions Through Their Scriptures

An XSeries is a group of courses presented on the edX platform that together add up to a rich understanding in one area of study. A course instructed by Neelima Shukla-Bhatt, associate professor of South Asia Studies, is among those offered in a new XSeries designed to be an open and accessible introduction to world religions, and to teach about the history and social impact of religions through their scriptures.  

"I'm eager to provide opportunities to complicate people's understanding of religion," Shukla-Bhatt told Deseret News. "We want to challenge people's assumption that religions are either all good or all bad."

Shukla-Bhatt is one of six religion professors, and the only professor not from Harvard, instructing the courses comprising the XSeries World Religions Through Their Scriptures. The first class of the series, Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scriptures, began this week. Shukla-Bhatt’s class, Hinduism Through Its Scriptures, will be presented fifth in the series and will begin in July. The other courses, which each last four weeks, cover scriptures from Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism.

"Every religion is embedded in the culture from which it arises and intersects with social processes in each historical context of its practice," said Shukla-Bhatt in an interview. "Wellesley community members who are interested in engaging with followers of diverse religions in an informed manner but are not able to take a course in world religions in a classroom context, will find this series extremely helpful."  

In addition to focusing on the themes specified for the entire course, Shukla-Bhatt said her class will highlight people’s engagement with texts through performance, including chanting, communal reading, singing, and dancing. "I hope to lead the enrolled individuals to think about the ways in which a sacred text becomes meaningful for a person or a community," she said.

World Religions Through Their Scriptures is offered on the HarvardX platform. WellesleyX also debuted a new class this week, Personal Finance, Part 1: Investing in Yourself, began March 1. The class, instructed by Ann Witte, professor emerita of economics, teaches participants how to incorporate financial considerations into life decisions and become an effective consumer of financial information. "The overall goal of this course is to empower you to use the financial industry rather than have the financial industry use you," Witte said in a video introduction.

EdX, a leader in the online learning space, was founded by Harvard and MIT and launched in May 2012. Wellesley signed on in December of that year as the first liberal arts college to join the edX collaborative. Participation in edX allows Wellesley to reach far beyond campus to women everywhere. WellesleyX can be viewed as a modern extension of Wellesley's founding mission "to educate women who otherwise would not have had opportunities to receive higher education."

Registration is open and ongoing; learners can enroll in all classes in the XSeries and for the personal finance course now. Courses can be taken for free or upgraded to verified status for a fee. Students who pass an entire XSeries can receive a personalized certificate.