50 Essential Open Courseware Classes to Learn About Human Services

The human services field can be defined broadly, but it always meets human needs through a focus on prevention as well as skills in problem remediation. You might work with the elderly, youth, families and entire communities in policy and advocacy through projects and collaborations. The following 50 essential Open Courseware classes focus on those skills and provide resources to learn how to manage and create successful and thriving environments.

Human RightsHuman Rights & Social Welfare

  1. Environmental Justice and Human Rights in the Aftermath of Katrina: Explore the issues that created a culture of inequality in Louisiana following Katrina [Notre Dame].
  2. Housing and Human Services: This class focuses on how the housing and human service systems interact [MIT].
  3. Human rights and law: This unit looks at the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights and its influence on law in the UK and examines the Human Rights Act 1998 [Open University].
  4. Human Rights in Theory and Practice: This course provides an introduction to the foundation, structure and operation of the international human rights movement [MIT].
  5. Poverty, Public Policy and Controversy: This course examines the main public policy frames that guide theory, research, policy and practice [MIT].
  6. Remaking the relations of work and welfare: This unit looks at how participation in and drop-out from, ‘workfare’ programs are interpreted within different theoretical perspectives [Open University].
  7. Understanding Societies: The goals of this course are to stimulate your fascination with sociology and to encourage you to recognize sociology’s practical value, as well as its unique perspective [Notre Dame].
  8. Urban Labor Markets and Employment Policy: This subject discusses the broader trends in the labor market [MIT].
  9. Violence, Human Rights, and Justice: Examine the problem of political violence and the way that human rights have been conceived as a means to protect and promote freedom [MIT].

Community ForumCommunities

  1. Building and Leading Effective Teams: This is an introduction to leadership, teams, and learning communities [MIT].
  2. Collaborative Consultation and Larger Systems: This course aims at developing a knowledge that contributes to families, organizations, and communities within a collaborative and social-justice-oriented vision [UMass Boston].
  3. Community-Owned Enterprise and Civic Participation: Learn about community-owned enterprise as an alternative means of increasing community participation and development [MIT].
  4. eCommunities: Analysis and Design of Online Interaction Environments: This course gives students a background in theory and practice surrounding online interaction environments [Open Michigan].
  5. Introduction to Demographic Methods: Students become familiar with the sources of data available for demographic research [Johns Hopkins].
  6. Power of Place: Media Technology, Youth, and City Design and Development: This workshop provides an introduction to urban environmental design and explores the potential of information technology and the Internet to transform community [MIT].
  7. Principles of Population Change: Provides students with a basic understanding of the science of demography and health implications of major population issues in the contemporary world [Johns Hopkins].
  8. Resolving Public Disputes: This course is an introduction to real-world dynamics of public policy controversies [MIT].
  9. Social Attitudes and Public Opinion: This course examines the nature of attitudes, beliefs, and values, and the influences which individuals’ attitudes have upon their behavior [UMass Boston].
  10. What’s in a title: understanding meanings in community care: What do we mean by ‘community’, ‘care’ and ‘welfare’? In this unit you can explore the meanings of these words in their historical and cultural settings [Open University].
  11. What’s Shaping the Global Internet Society? This course examines how technologies, policies, standards, practices, and worldviews shape how the Internet is used worldwide [Georgetown Opencourseware].


  1. Family Finance: This personal finance course can reflect work with other families or with your own family [Utah State].
  2. Family Planning Policies and Programs: Learn about issues and programmatic strategies related to the development, organization, and management of family planning programs [Johns Hopkins].
  3. Marriage & Family Relationships: This is an introductory course on marriage and the family, intended to present a balanced understanding [Utah State].
  4. Marriage, Family Structure & Economic Development: This course aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of diverse family structures [Georgetown Opencourseware].
  5. Power of Positive Parenting: These materials can give parents the skills necessary to raise children well [Utah State].
  6. Substance Abuse and the Family: This course focuses on families with members who are substance abusers, and the ways in which these families function [UMass Boston].
  7. The Contemporary American Family: Examine how the family currently is defined in the U.S., discussing different views about what families should look like [MIT].
  8. The Economic History of Work and Family: This course explores the relation of women and men in pre-industrial and modern societies to the changing map of public and private (household) work spaces [MIT].

Public HealthPublic Health

  1. Changing the Face of American Healthcare: This seminar invites the student to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of our health care system [Notre Dame].
  2. Epidemiological Thinking For Non-Specialists: Introduction to methods and problems in research and applications where quantitative data is analyzed to reconstruct possible pathways of development of behaviors and diseases [UMass Boston].
  3. Foundations of Public Health: This course presents the framework, principles, and responsibilities of public health research and practice from a multidisciplinary perspective [University of California – Irvine].
  4. Introduction to Methods for Health Services Research and Evaluation: This course provides an introduction to basic methods for undertaking research and program evaluation within health services organizations and systems [Johns Hopkins].
  5. Measuring Health Disparities: Learn how to understand, define, and measure health disparity [Open Michigan].
  6. Medicine and Public Health in American History: Learn about conceptions of disease, health, and healing throughout American history [Notre Dame].
  7. Patients and Populations: Medical Decision-Making: This course focuses on genetics, principles of disease, epidemiology, information gathering and assessment [Open Michigan].
  8. Population Change and Public Health: This course introduces the basic elements of population studies and the causes and consequences of changes in these characteristics [Johns Hopkins].
  9. Public Hygiene and Epidemiology: Insight is given into the contributions of civil engineers to the present state of health [TU Delft].
  10. The Politics of Health Care: Michael S. Sparer, associate professor of public health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, demystifies health care in the United States in this six-part series [Columbia Interactive].
  11. Understanding Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health Care: Students are introduced to basic economic concepts that are needed in order to understand the recommendations from the United States Panel on Cost Effectiveness in Health and Medicine [Johns Hopkins].

Negotiation PicketOther Human Services Resources

  1. Dialogue in Art, Architecture, and Urbanism: Consider how collaborations between artists and architects might provide opportunities for rethinking and redesigning urban spaces [MIT].
  2. Getting Things Implemented: Strategy, People, Performance, and Leadership: This is a case-based introduction to the fundamentals of effective implementation [MIT].
  3. How to Conduct a Meeting in an Intercultural Setting: This module integrates the Harvard Negotiation Project into meetings [Connexions].
  4. Identity and Difference: This course explores how identities, whether of individuals or groups, are produced, maintained, and transformed [MIT].
  5. Intro to Instructional Design: Learn how to combine human and nonhuman resources to bring about more effective instruction [Utah State].
  6. Managerial Economics: This course covers the essential principles and tools of the application of microeconomics to management decisions [Utah State].
  7. Managing projects through people: This unit identifies the groups and individuals whose appropriate involvement in a project is important for its success [Open University].
  8. People and Organizations: This course uses interactive exercises, simulations and problems to develop critical skills in negotiations, teamwork and leadership [MIT].
  9. Processes of Research and Engagement: Students identify issues in educational or other professional settings on which to focus their critical and creative thinking skills [UMass Boston].
  10. Training and Human Resources Development: Gain practical knowledge needed to implement a successful training program [University of California – Irvine].
  11. Writing on Contemporary Issues: Social and Ethical Issues: Learn how to write about issues such as poverty, homelessness, injustice, or environmental crisis [MIT].