100 Awesome Ivy League Video Lectures

by Staff Writers

By Christina Laun

Even if you can’t attend an Ivy League college, you can still take advantage of the intellectual and professional resources that many have to offer through the colleges’ websites. Here, we’ve put together a list of 100 great video lectures you can watch to learn from some of the leading experts in fields as diverse as astronomy and economics.


Check out these video lectures and courses to learn about biology, astronomy, physics and more.

  1. ASTR 160 – Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics: Professor Charles Bailyn teaches this course in astrophysics that focuses on black holes, dark energy and extra-solar planets. [Open Yale]
  2. PHYS 200 – Fundamentals of Physics: Those who have a good background in math and physics can get a great review from this course offered by Professor Ramamurti Shankar. [Open Yale]
  3. Jane Goodall: Reason for Hope in a Complex World: Known for her work with chimpanzees, Jane Goodall is a leading authority on primatology and anthropology sciences, and in this lecture she speaks on issues related to finding hope for our future. [Harvard @ Home]
  4. String Theory, Black Holes, and the Laws of Nature: String theory provides promise in unraveling the mysteries that surround the laws that govern the universe and Professor Andrew Strominger discusses his insights into this theory and its relationship to black holes in this lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. Changing Habitats… Vanishing Species: Check out the video of this symposium at the Harvard Museum of Natural History that brings together a collection of scholars to discuss environmental changes, species loss and human impact. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Socks Before Shoes: Unraveling Cell Division: Professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard, Andrew Murray, explains the process of cell division in this video lecture and offers some insights into what might cause abnormalities. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. A COMPLETE Search for New Suns: The COMPLETE project aims to map 1,000s of light years of star forming material in the Milky Way and you can learn all about it from Alyssa A. Goodman, Professor of Astronomy at Harvard in this lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  8. Evolutionary Dynamics: Recent advances in our understanding of evolutionary dynamics are discussed by Professor Martin Nowak in this course with regard to genes, behavior and much more. [Harvard @ Home]
  9. Science in the News: Stem Cells and Cloning: Join Harvard medical students as they explore some of the moral and ethical issues that surround the use of stem cells in this lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  10. Unlocking the Promise of Stem Cells: Harvard’s newly opened Stem Cell Institute is introduced in this video lecture, providing information on how the institute plans to move research on stem cells from the lab to the clinic. [Harvard @ Home]
  11. Observing the Birth of the Universe: Lyman Page, Professor of Physics, delivers this video lecture on the origins of our universe, using humorous and accessible means to explain complex concepts. [Princeton]
  12. Sequencing the Human Genome: Want to learn more about the process of sequencing our genome from start to finish? This lecture from Craig Venter can help you to become more informed on the subject whether you’re interested for fun or scholarly exploration. [Princeton]
  13. Einstein’s Biggest Blunder: A Cosmic Mystery Story: Alex Filippenko from the University of California, Berkeley delivers this lecture on one of the best-known thinkers and theorists of the 20th century. [Princeton]

Health and Medical

Here you can learn about cutting-edge innovations in the health and medical fields.

  1. Living Healthier, Living Longer: Part I: This multi-part series on health begins with this lecture on the latest research in aging and men’s and women’s health issues. [Harvard @ Home]
  2. Living Healthier, Living Longer: Part II: Part two of this lecture series addresses current research in cancer, nutrition, exercise and stress management. [Harvard @ Home]
  3. Living Healthier, Living Longer: Part III: Check out this lecture for information on memory, sleep and alternative medicine. [Harvard @ Home]
  4. Reproductive Health in the 21st Century: Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has provided this lecture which addresses the social, ethical and scientific elements of issues in reproductive health. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. Genetically Modified Foods: Worried about eating foods that have been genetically modified? This lecture offers you the chance to listen in on Harvard students discussing the myriad of ethical, health and historical issues involving altered foods. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Global Health: A Panel Discussion: This panel includes representatives from the government, the pharmaceutical industry, and educational and medical institutions to discuss global health issues like AIDS. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. Reforming Our Health System: Why Neither Candidate Has the Answer: Get a different perspective on the issue of health care in America from this lecture offered by Marcia Angell. [Princeton]
  8. Human Systems Explorer: Technology and health care meet in the development of the Human Systems Explorer. Listen to Dr. Michael Parker explains how it works in this online lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  9. Watch What You Eat: Ruth Reichl from Gourmet Magazine delivers this lecture on the realities of food consumption, especially in relation to eating meat and the commodification of animals. [Princeton]


Improve your knowledge of American, world and ancient history with these informative video lectures.

  1. CLCV 205 – Introduction to Ancient Greek History: This course traces the development of Greek culture in regard to politics, the arts and philosophy from the Bronze Age to the late classical period. [Open Yale]
  2. HIST 119 – The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877: Learn about this tumultuous period in American history from Professor David Blight in this course that explores the causes and consequences of the Civil War. [Open Yale]
  3. HIST 276 – France Since 1871: Francophiles can indulge in these free video lectures that cover social, political and economic changes in France from 1871 into the modern age. [Open Yale]
  4. Women and War in the Twentieth Century: Learn from top scholars about how women have played a role in the wars of the 20th century from guardians of the home to front line terrorists. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. Brown v. Board: Looking Back, Looking Forward: Brown vs. the Board of Education was a historic case and this video lecture provides an insightful retrospective using a panel of several of the attorneys on the case as well as a discussion of desegregation and civil rights. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Benjamin Franklin: Scientist, Diplomat: Professor Dudley Herschbach discusses the inventions of Ben Franklin like the lightening rod in this lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. Oliver Cromwell: Commoner to Lord Protector: Oliver Cromwell played a big role in 17th century English politics and this lecture offers background on his rise to power as a military and political leader. [Harvard @ Home]
  8. Interpreting the Past with Professor Laurel Ulrich: Check out this lecture to learn about revolutionary ideas in America and how it has affected everyday life. [Harvard @ Home]
  9. Keynote Address: Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America: Part of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, this lecture explores one of the most historic debates that has ever taken place in American history. [Princeton]
  10. America’s First Cause: Harvey C. Mansfield delivers this lecture on the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, focusing on his work Democracy in America. [Princeton]
  11. How Obscenity Became the Litmus Test for the First Amendment: Fans of the First Amendment, the one regarding freedom of speech, will find this lecture by Rochelle Gurstein to be of particular interest. [Princeton]
  12. Baptized in Blood: Moral Reflections on the American Civil War: Harry S. Stout, Professor of American Religious History at Yale University, explores some of the ramifications the American Civil War in regards to the religious legacy and just conduct during the battles. [Princeton]

Political Science

Whether it’s the history of politics or present-day issues you’re interested in, you’ll find interesting material in these lectures.

  1. State of the Global Environment: Public Policy: Four Harvard professors discuss the role of scientists, artists and economists in global climate change in this video lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  2. Teaching American Politics: Being objective when teaching highly charged issues like politics can be hard, but this lecture gives some insights into ways you can deliver the material without a clear bias. [Harvard @ Home]
  3. Women Without Money: Watch this video lecture for discussions on welfare reform, surrogacy, the global sex trade and more. [Harvard @ Home]
  4. International Relations: New Approaches in a Complex World: Our world has gotten ever smaller with advances in technology, communication and travel. This lecture addresses the issues that have developed from the rise of China as an economic power. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. A World in Conflict: Panel Discussion: In this discussion, you’ll hear opinions on September 11th in regard to dealing with legal prosecution, global strategic policy, ethics and war. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Perspectives on China: Reform and Sovereignty: Professor MacFarquhar delivers this lecture on the key elements of the politics, economics, history and future of China. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. Border Connections: Mexico/U.S. Relations: Relations with Mexico are a hot-button issue, especially in regard to immigration. Dr. Jorge Castañeda addresses the changing relationship between the Mexico, the US and South American in this lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  8. A New American Empire?: Should the U.S. be able to regulate relations within other countries? Professor Rosen discusses the implications of this use of power in this video lecture from Harvard. [Harvard @ Home]
  9. The Free Man and Free Government in Political Theory: Ellis Sandoz explores some of the basics of political theory in this focused lecture. [Princeton]
  10. Compassionate Conservatism: Whether you agree with conservatives or not, this lecture will allow you to learn more about what makes the movement popular with so many people. [Princeton]

Engineering, Technology and Mathematics

From satellite security to cubic equations, these videos are helpful for those interested in a variety of fields.

  1. BENG 100 – Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering: Learn the basics of biomedical engineering from Yale professor W. Mark Saltzman. It presents material in a way both those with a science background and those without can understand. [Open Yale]
  2. The Fluid World: Flows, Films and Foams: Check out this lecture for a crash course in fluid dynamics from Howard Stone, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. [Harvard @ Home]
  3. Hyper-Encryption by Virtual Satellite: This lecture addresses the failure of computer systems to provide network security and offers a solution in hyper-encryption. [Harvard @ Home]
  4. Curtis McMullen: The Geometry of 3-Manifolds: An issue long a mystery in mathematics may finally have been solved by a Russian mathematician as this lecture discusses. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. Solving Cubic Equations: Cubic equations may not be anything new but this lecture takes a modern approach to addressing them. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Bipedal bugs, galloping ghosts and gripping geckos: BioInspiration for Rapid Running Robots: Lovers of sci-fi and robotics will appreciate this lecture that provides some interesting information on the origins for plans of the most modern robotic designs. [Princeton]
  7. Anytime, Anywhere: The Recent Revolution in Wireless Communications: With wi-fi all the rage, it can be tempting to simply take the phenomenon for granted. This lecture explains some of the details behind the emergence of this revolution in communication. [Princeton]
  8. Perspectives on High Performance Computer Architecture: History and Challenges: Learn about the history and development of computer architecture and internal systems in this techie-lecture. [Princeton]
  9. Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue: Technology, Politics, and the Fight to Control Digital Media: Like most people, you’ve probably used your computer to burn a CD before. This lecture explores some of the legal issues that surround the use of digital media. [Princeton]
  10. Escher and the Droste Effect: Hendrik Lenstra, Professor of Mathematics, gives this lecture on the Droste effect, or the appearance of ever smaller pictures within a larger picture, giving a sense of infinite recession of space. [Princeton]
  11. Matchsticks, Scramjets, and Black Holes: Numerical Simulation Faces Reality: Learn how the numbers translate to reality in this lecture from Elaine Oran, Senior Scientist for Reactive Flow Physics at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. [Princeton]


These lectures cover topics in economics and business to help you stay informed.

  1. ECON 159 – Game Theory: This video course teachers the basics of game theory like dominance, backward induction, Nash equilibrium, evolutionary stability, commitment and much more. [Open Yale]
  2. ECON 252 – Financial Markets: Check out this economics course from Professor Robert Schiller which aims to explain financial theory in relation to banking, insurance, securities, futures institutions and where these may be headed in the coming years. [Open Yale]
  3. Understanding the Crisis in the Markets: A Panel of Harvard Experts: Get some insights into the factors affecting the market crisis affecting the world economy from leading experts in the fields of economics and finance in this online lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  4. The Business of Baseball: Whether you’re just interested in sports business or have a true love of the game, this lecture will give you some insight into the business workings behind baseball using the Boston Red Sox as an example. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. Entrepreneurial Women: Pamela Thomas-Graham, President and CEO at CNBC, delivers a lecture that reflects on some of the issues women face in the business world. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Customer Experience Matters: Learn from experience as Jeffrey Bezos delivers this lecture on business practices at his alma mater, Princeton. [Princeton]
  7. Beyond Freakonomics: New Musings on the Economics of Everyday Life: Well-known author and professor at the University of Chicago, Steven Levitt, offers his insights on economics in this video lecture. [Princeton]
  8. The Economics of Climate Change: Risk, Ethics, and a Global Deal: Climate change isn’t just a big deal for the environment, it impacts economics as well as this lecture discusses. [Princeton]
  9. Philanthropy…It’s Definitely Not for Wimps: Reflections on Faith and Finance: Gain some insight into how religious philanthropy functions from this video lecture. [Princeton]

Social Sciences

These video lectures allow you to learn a little more about the inner workings of human society and the mind.

  1. PSYC 110 – Introduction to Psychology: Get a better understanding of how your (or others’) minds work with this intro course from Professor Paul Bloom. You’ll cover topics like child development, communication, learning and much more. [Open Yale]
  2. Women, Men, and Food: Putting Gender on the Table: This lecture explores the relationship between gender and food at all stages of production. [Harvard @ Home]
  3. The City of Sardis: Approaches in Graphic Recording: For a thousand years the city of Sardis was a thriving metropolis forming a bond between Asia and Europe. This lecture explores how representations of this city have changed over time with special attention to archaeology from the site. [Harvard @ Home]
  4. In the War Zone: How Does Gender Matter?: In Western society, war has been a traditionally male occupation. This lecture explores how defines gender roles, drawing on scholars from all over the world for insight. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. Gender and Race: Together at Last?: Both people of racial minorities and women have experienced much discrimination over the centuries. This lecture explores how issues of race and gender have influenced the study of women’s history in the U.S. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Women and Economic Development: With special focus on the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India, this lecture illuminates women entrepreneurs’ challenges and successes, past and present. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. On the Relation of Science and the Humanities: While often a clear line is drawn between the humanities and the hard sciences, this lecture explores how each relies on the other and are essentially interwoven. [Harvard @ Home]


Learn more about your favorite authors from these free video lectures.

  1. ENGL 220 – Milton: Check out this course to learn about poet Milton, his contemporaries, poems and lasting influence on the field of poetry.[Open Yale]
  2. ENGL 291 – The American Novel Since 1945: This series of video lectures will take you through a collection of American novels and will cover topics like the relationship between readers and authors and the place of the novel in history. [Open Yale]
  3. ENGL 310 – Modern Poetry: If you feel you don’t know much about modern poetry, give these video lectures a chance. You’ll get help understanding poets like Yeats, Pound and Eliot. [Open Yale]
  4. Fifty Years in Media: Changes in Journalism: The face of the popular media has changed a lot in the last 50 years due to technology and societal advancements. Listen as journalists from Harvard’s class of ’55 talk about their first-hand experience dealing with these changes. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. W.B. Yeats: Among School Children: Professor Helen Vendler gives this lecture, complete with analysis, on the Yeats poem “Among School Children.”[Harvard @ Home]
  6. Rediscovering Homer: Poetry and Performance: Learn more about the Iliad in this lecture series from Professor Greg Nagy. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. Onetti and the Shadows of Faulkner and Borges: Those unfamiliar with Urayguan author Juan Carlos Onetti can learn more about his work and it’s place in literature from this lecture. [Princeton]
  8. Moby-Dick: Polyphony: Learn how Biblical references and imagery are used in popular literature of the 20th century, namely Moby Dick, in this lecture. [Princeton]
  9. Absalom, Absalom!: Lexicon: Robert Alter explores ideas of the Bible and American literature in this video lecture, part of a larger series. [Princeton]
  10. Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language: Steven Pinker from MIT delivers this lecture at Princeton on the elemental components of our language and languages worldwide. [Princeton]
  11. Jane Austen and War: Learn how Jane Austen was influenced by war in this lecture from Professor Claudia Johnson. [Princeton]

The Arts

Check out these videos for information on the arts including painting, music and film.

  1. Manet and Cézanne: The ‘Heroics’ of Modernism: Gain a little insight into modern art history in this lecture from academic Carol Armstrong. [Princeton]
  2. Create Dangerously – The Immigrant Artist at Work: This videotaped lecture is delivered by Edwidge Danticat, award-winning writer, and explores the role of Haitian artists. [Princeton]
  3. Blue Notes and Butterflies: Black Women’s Vocality: Columbia University professor Farah Jasmine Griffin wrote a book on Billie Holliday and explores some of the issues from her book regarding black women vocalists in this lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  4. Bach Manuscripts: Recovery of the Hidden Archive: What would you do if you found over half a million records thought to have been lost of composer Bach? This professor explores just that, a find of a lifetime, in this lecture. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. A Conversation with Mira Nair: Filmmaker Mira Nair, known for such movies as Monsoon Wedding, recounts her creative journey in this video. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: Then and Now: Music aficionados can take in this lecture for free and learn about how the Ninth Symphony has remained important throughout the years. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. Do Movies have a Future?: David Denby, from the New Yorker, gives this lecture on his projections for the future of the film industry. [Princeton]

Philosophy and Religion

Gain insights into spirituality and the workings of the human mind in these video lectures.

  1. PHIL 176 – Death: Everyone has questions about their own mortality. This course aims to address some of the philosophical issues related to death and dying. [Open Yale]
  2. PLSC 114 – Introduction to Political Philosophy: In this video lecture series, you’ll examine some of the major texts and thinkers who have influenced political theory and practice in Western tradition. [Open Yale]
  3. RLST 145 – Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible): The Old Testament played an important role both in the thought of ancient Israel and on much later Western civilization. This course explores in detail the affects of the Bible, especially in relation to the Near East. [Open Yale]
  4. Justice: A Journey in Moral Reasoning: Renowned professor Michael Sandel explores issue of political philosophy in this lecture and film that takes you inside a Harvard classroom to discuss issues of ethics and justice. [Harvard @ Home]
  5. Manifestations of Shiva: If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Hinduism, this lecture is a great place to start. You’ll learn about the mythology, imagery and pilgrimage sites that are associated with the god Shiva. [Harvard @ Home]
  6. Islam and America: Islamic Scholars Respond: This series of lectures provides a background on the tenets and history of Islam, the relationship of Islamic nations with the West, and the long-term implications of 9/11. [Harvard @ Home]
  7. His Holiness the Dalai Lama Visits Harvard: Whether you’re a Buddhist yourself or just have great respect for the Dalai Lama, you can listen to his speech delivered at Harvard in 2003 to a full house of students, professors and staff. [Harvard @ Home]
  8. God and the Inner City: This documentary explores the battle for the souls of people in the inner city and focuses on several faith-based groups trying to help those who need it most in troubled areas in America. [Princeton]
  9. The Rise and Fall of Italian Jewry From 1839-1939 and the Revival of Italian Judaism in Italy and Israel: Dan Vittorio Segre, an Italian professor, delivers this lecture on the history of Judaism in Italy from the 19th century until the horrors of the Holocaust and then into the post-war period. [Princeton]
  10. God, Blood, and the Temple: Part one of a multi-part series on sin, Paula Fredriksen discusses some of the many aspects of sin in this lecture. [Princeton]
  11. God, Nature, or Man: Whose Law for a Free People? The Experience of Islam: If you’re interested in learning a little more about Islam, watch this video lecture from Princeton that explores law in islamic faith and nations. [Princeton]