International law, emotional intelligence featured in Case Western Reserve’s first MOOCs

This spring people around the world will be able to take free online classes from two of Case Western Reserve’s most prominent professors—one an acclaimed expert in international law, and the other a renowned scholar of emotional intelligence in leadership.

The extraordinary educational opportunities come courtesy of a new university collaboration with Coursera, a company that provides a platform for online offerings from 62 institutions including Duke, Princeton and Stanford universities. Launched less than a year ago, the company has attracted 2.7 million students to courses covering subjects from calculus and human physiology to business strategy and songwriting.

Case Western Reserve announced its participation in the partnership Thursday as Coursera detailed the addition of 29 new institutions, including 16 from outside the U.S. Case Western Reserve’s new MOOCs, short for Massive Open Online Courses, follow the January launch of the university’s first online degree program, a master’s in social science administration through the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. Unlike the degree program, the university’s MOOCs are non-credit offerings.

“Our university has a long and proud history of leadership in education and technology,” Case Western Reserve Provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack III said. “These online academic offerings represent new ways for us to advance learning—not only for those who take the courses, but those who teach them as well.”

Baeslack noted that the university also has issued a campuswide request for proposals from faculty members for additional MOOCs that could be offered in the future through Coursera or other online providers. In addition, the Case School of Engineering is moving forward on a proposed online certificate program.

“The range of potential initiatives is immense,” said Lev Gonick, the university’s vice president for Information Technology Services and chief information officer. “Our goal is to explore as many opportunities as possible to discern which ones offer the best match to our individual courses and programs.”

Case Western Reserve’s first MOOCs both begin May 1. They emerged from the enthusiasm the two faculty members brought to the opportunity. Michael Scharf, associate dean for global legal studies at the School of Law, and Richard Boyatzis, professor of organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management, are well known on campus for their dynamic, engaging teaching style. They also stand as leading minds in their fields. This fall, for example, 11,000 human resource directors worldwide named Boyatzis one of management’s top 10 most influential thinkers. Scharf, meanwhile, is managing director of the Public International Law and Policy Group, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated NGO (non-governmental organization).

“From the trial of Saddam Hussein to piracy on the high seas, questions of justice carry implications far beyond the courtrooms where they take place,” Scharf said. “This course provides an opportunity to inform and engage people around the world, regardless of whether they want to pursue a legal degree.”

Boyatzis, The New York Times’ best-selling co-author of Primal Leadership, has spent decades studying the behaviors and skills that enable leaders to inspire their followers to achieve unrealized potential. More recently he has begun exploring ways that neuroscience can inform our understanding of how experiences directly affect the brain.

“The more we appreciate how powerfully we influence one another,” Boyatzis said, “the more we effective we can be in promoting positive developments for ourselves and others. Sharing these concepts in a global way is exhilarating, both because of the collective impact we might have, but also through what we will learn from one another.”

For more information or to register, visit