Intern-al Medicine

I was excited to join the Sunoikisis team this June with my background in both education and Classics, ready both to contribute and to learn.

As a Sunoikisis intern, it was my job to assist the faculty with the development of the Sunoikisis Ancient Medicine course. I was especially excited to participate in the construction of a new course, since I am pursuing a license and minor in Adolescent-Young Adult education to teach high school Latin (or Greek, should the fates look kindly upon me).

mikeMy duties included setting up and cleaning up after the proceedings, coordinating Google Hangouts for the faculty members attending remotely, and operating and monitoring the live stream and recordings of the sessions. Additionally, I assisted my co-intern, Rose Milnes (the Fastest Typist in the West and all-around good person), with taking notes. The professors encouraged and welcomed my undergraduate perspective in the discussions.

At my small liberal arts college, because I am the only person pursuing AYA licensure in Latin, I do not have the opportunity to collaborate with others to build lessons, units, or classes. Being able to observe that process, participate in discussions, and apply my training will help make me a better student and educator when I return to Wooster this fall.

My previous school year had unfortunately exposed me to a number of situations and people that left me feeling bitter and disillusioned with Classics. Almost immediately upon arriving, my spirit was reinvigorated by the passion, dedication, and brilliance of the staff, faculty, and my fellow interns

Thank you to Emily Kohut and Allie Marbry for their support, as well as all of the the faculty members for their respect and open-mindedness to my thoughts, opinions, and perspective. Thank you also to Drs. Matthew Broda and Chan-Sok Park for their guidance and recommendations.

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Ancient Science: Medicine

Faculty Development Seminar 2017

Dates: June 7-June 13
Course Consultant: Mark Schiefsky, Harvard University

This year, the Sunoikisis Faculty Development seminar will be the first of a series that will focus on the field of ancient science. We hope this course and those to follow will help our programs better position themselves to benefit from the emphasis on STEM fields at a number of institutions that participate in Sunoikisis. The seminar aims to create a course in translation suited for students with or without a background in the ancient world and design ways for students of Latin and ancient Greek to read some of the texts in the original language.The 5-day seminar will begin on Thursday, June 8, and conclude on Monday, June 12.

The consultant for Ancient Science: Medicine, Mark Schiefsky, holds a joint appointment in the Department of the History of Science and the Department of Classics at Harvard and currently serves as a senior fellow at the CHS.

A live stream of the proceedings will be available at


Thursday, June 8
9:00-10:30 a.m. Session 1: Intro Session
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session 2: Intro Session (cont’)   
2:00-3:30 p.m. Session 3: Babylonian and Egyptian Medicine
4:00-5:30 p.m. Session 4: 2nd Session: Early Greek Poetry
Friday, June 9
9:00-10:30 a.m. Session 1: Early Greek Philosophy—A New World View
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session 2: Temple Medicine: The Cult of Asclepius
2:00-3:30 p.m. Session 3: Hippocratic Medicine: Nature, Divinity, and Disease
4:00-5:30 p.m. Session 4: Medicine, Health, and the Environment
Saturday, June 10
9:00-10:30 a.m. Session 1: The Athenian Plague       
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session 2: Medicine and Philosophy
2:00-3:30 p.m. Session 3: Gender and Reproduction
4:00-5:30 p.m. Session 4: Surgery and Medical Ethics
Sunday, June 11
9:00-10:30 a.m. Session 1: 4th Century Philosophy
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session 2: Alexandrian Medicine: Herophilus and Erasistratus
2:00-3:30 p.m. Session 3: Hellenistic Medical Sects: Rationalists, Empiricists, and Methodists
4:00-5:30 p.m. Session 4: Poisons and Drugs
Monday, June 12
9:00-10:30 a.m. Session 1: Galen: His Career; Medicine and Philosophy; Health and Disease
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session 2: Galen: Anatomy and Physiology
2:00-3:30 p.m. Session 3: Galen: Body and Soul
4:00-5:30 p.m. Session 4: Development – Curricular design
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After the Hype, Do MOOC Ventures Like edX Still Matter? (CHE)

By Goldie Blumenstyk

Five years and 11 million students on, Anant Agarwal, chief executive of the nonprofit organization, says there is still plenty of innovation to come from the venture and its university partners: “We’re just getting started.”


GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: Hello, I’m Goldie Blumenstyk, senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, and I’m here today with Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX. Anant, thanks for joining us here at The Chronicle.

ANANT AGARWAL: Oh, my pleasure to be here.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: A lot of people have been hearing a lot about MOOCs over the last few years, the hype about MOOCs, the bust about MOOCs. But you guys keep chugging along. Obviously, in the MOOC environment, there are MOOCs that are for-profit, and edX remains very much a nonprofit organization. Philosophically and on the ground, what’s the difference between an edX and some of the commercial products that are out there right now?

ANANT AGARWAL: So we are the leading nonprofit MOOC provider. And right from when we started edX, we believe that, as we are transforming education and working with our university partners, it was very important to us that we created a nonprofit organization. A lot of decisions that we make would have been very different, had we been a for-profit that is VC-funded.


ANANT AGARWAL: So as an example, one of the very early decisions we made was giving away a platform to the whole world for free, where it’s like giving away your crown jewels. And it’s very hard to do that — near impossible to do that if you’re a for-profit because now you’re disenfranchising yourself. But as a nonprofit, you want to have the biggest impact, not necessarily the biggest ROI for investors. You can do things like that. So we give our platform away for free.

A second example is that on edX, we are still offering MOOCs, which are courses where people can do the whole learning for free. You may have to pay for a credential, but we still offer MOOCs, and virtually all our courses are MOOCs. Even for a MicroMasters and premium offerings, people can learn completely for free.

A lot of the for-profits have pivoted and put up paywalls in their programs. And edX pretty much has and will continue to offer free courses and programs. And as a nonprofit, that certainly reduces the revenue that you can generate. But we have a very long-term horizon.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: What is your long-term horizon? I know you were founded about five and a half years ago with about $60 million from MIT and Harvard, and gotten some other foundation money along the way. But do you have a time frame at which point you expect to consider yourselves self-sustaining?

ANANT AGARWAL: So we expect to get to sustainability by about 2020. And, you know, that will have been about nine years or thereabouts to become self-sustaining. But even after that, our goal as a mission-focused nonprofit, it will be not to maximize profits but rather maximize the impact and the good that we can do to the world. Work with the university partners to reimagine education, both on university campuses and online.

And, frankly, as you look at many of the MOOC providers that looked very similar five years ago, you can see some of the pivots happening as we went along from the for-profits.

And edX, you know, we’ve certainly stayed true to the mission, which is: Increase access for education for everybody. People can learn for free on edX. You know, our courses — even the courses in MicroMasters and premium offerings — are available completely for free for learners, where there’s graded assignments, videos, exams. All of that is available for free to learn. There is a fee for the certificate, but you can learn for free.

Many of the for-profits have had to pivot along the way because — you know, I’ve done five for-profit companies. And when you’re funded by investors, they’re looking for ROI. And as edX, as a nonprofit, our focus is on doing the maximum good, and, you know — and it’s about the mission.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: One of the things that I find so interesting about this, MOOCs, is, people think of this as technology, but it strikes me that some of the most interesting innovations that have resulted from the MOOCs have nothing to do with technology at all. I’m thinking about your development of the MicroMasters. It’s kind of a different approach to getting degrees. Or even just some of the experimentation that’s going on on the MOOC platform. Can you tell me just a little bit about one of the more interesting innovations that you’ve seen coming out of this MOOC that’s not really a tech thing?

ANANT AGARWAL: Sure. And, of course, to be sure, we have a lot of innovation in technology in order to be able to offer credit-grade MOOCs, like with a MicroMasters and our Global Freshman Academy. At the same time —

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: So a credit-grade MOOC means someone’s — it has to have a certain level of — you have to have some infrastructure behind it or something, right?

ANANT AGARWAL: Absolutely. A credit-grade MOOC is one where — we’ve really had to up the quality and the rigor of assessments, and also the integrity of the whole program, in order to have a credit-grade MOOC. So for example, in terms of quality, it’s not just about multiple choice. We have very rich assessment types like drag-and-drop, image responses, you know. Sophisticated tests. You know, universities would be loath to offer credit for these courses if all you had was multiple choice.

And, similarly, we’ve had to do a lot of work over the past three years in integrity — things like integrating virtual proctoring into the platform, integrating hand grading, in addition to peer grading. Universities are uncomfortable giving credit for English for essays when they are peer graded. So be able to hand grade essays for students that are taking it for credit and integrated with the students doing it for peer grading.

And there’s also things like randomized problem banks, timed exams, exams with different visibilities. A lot of features for integrity that are very critical for credit-grade MOOCs. And we’ve done all of that through technology on edX. And it’s really — I call this MOOC 2.0, where our platform today is not your grandfather’s MOOC platform from five years ago.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: And what about — I’m thinking sort of broadly — a lot of the focus now on MOOCs has been, both at edX and at some of the other providers, has been kind of a career-focused orientation. Your MicroMasters program has got a career-oriented approach, even though it can lead to a degree.

But I’m just still thinking, are there some things, particularly at edX, that you could be doing that really would change education more broadly — do something big for the liberal arts or for something other that’s really fundamental to higher education?

ANANT AGARWAL: So one of the big innovations, really, at edX has not been technology-focused. It has to do with policy and new credentials. And working with MIT initially, the innovation came out of MIT on the MicroMasters, where we’ve had to work with MIT, with the accreditation agencies that accredit MIT’s degree programs and so on to come up with the MicroMasters.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: But does that really — that doesn’t help educate the world, which I think was the big vision and maybe too much of the hype. But that was sort of the hype in the beginning of this — that the MOOCs were going to educate the world in a way that other platforms and other institutions couldn’t.

ANANT AGARWAL: But even if you look at a MicroMasters — let’s take the supply-chain MicroMasters from MIT. They admit 30 students on campus for a master’s degree. On edX, there are about 40,000 students taking the supply-chain MicroMasters for free. About 12 percent to 13 percent of them are signing up for the verified certificate and the credit track. And so several thousand students are going on the credit track, and that is significantly bigger than the 30 students on campus. So, in fact, it is two orders of magnitude bigger. And if you look at the students learning for free, that is three orders of magnitude bigger. So I still think that the vision of MOOCs and being able to educate large numbers of people scalably at very low marginal cost is still true.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: You think that’s a fundamental advantage?

ANANT AGARWAL: I think it is. Because, you know, if you give up on that, in some sense, there’s nothing really new then. Because online degree programs have been around for 20 or 30 years. It’s nothing new. Online degree programs that cost $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 are not new. And those that have a rigorous admissions process and take in a few students — that’s not very different from what you do on campus.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: So, in effect, the price point is the real revolution here?

ANANT AGARWAL: I think it’s both scale and efficiency. I think both matter. So as an example, our stacked degree program that we launched with Georgia Tech — the OMA, the online master’s in analytics on edX is a stacked degree program. There’s a MicroMasters, which you can learn for free. And for 1,500 bucks, you get a MicroMasters. And the whole degree program can be had for under $10,000.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: I’m still sitting here thinking, though, how does that help the world’s democracies? Around the world, how does — what does that really do for the rest of the world, other than those students who took those MicroMasters?

ANANT AGARWAL: Well, for the rest of world, to me, learning is a human right. And if we can help people learn — for a lot of people, they can learn analytics, learn AI. We have 1,400 courses on edX, and we’re just getting started. It’s only five years. And so we have 11 million students who’ve taken 40 million courses on edX. And this movement is growing exponentially. And people are learning for free in the millions. And so, has it educated the world? No. But give us time.

GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK: All right. Well, great. Thanks very much for coming by.

ANANT AGARWAL: Well, thank you. My pleasure.

Goldie Blumenstyk writes about the intersection of business and higher education. Check out for information on her new book about the higher-education crisis; follow her on Twitter @GoldieStandard; or email her at

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Faculty Seminar | Ancient Science

Dates: June 7-June 13
Application Deadline: April 21, 2017

Course Consultant: Mark Schiefsky, Harvard University

Apply Now!

Each June, interested faculty gather at the Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS) in Washington, D.C.* to read and discuss relevant texts on a particular subject and develop an inter-institutional course for the following fall semester. The seminar this year will be the first of a series that will focus on the field of ancient science. We hope this course and those to follow will help our programs better position themselves to benefit from the emphasis on STEM fields at a number of institutions that participate in Sunoikisis.

We invite experts in the subject areas to participate in the seminars, inform the reading of primary source materials, guide the exploration of current themes and topics in those areas, and facilitate the creation of syllabi for the fall courses.

The consultant for Ancient Science 2017 is Mark Schiefsky, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of the History of Science and the Department of Classics at Harvard ( and who currently serves as a senior fellow at the CHS. The course-planning and faculty-development seminar this year aims to create a course in translation suited for students with or without a background in the ancient world and design ways for students of Latin and ancient Greek to read some of the texts in the original language.

The seminar will begin on Thursday, June 8, and conclude on Monday, June 12 (five days), with arrivals on Wednesday, June 7, and departures on Tuesday, June 13. As in past years, those who are actually offering the course will have priority.

*The CHS will provide housing and board. Participants or their sponsoring institutions will be responsible for the costs of travel to and from the CHS. All participants will receive a stipend of $750.

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Faculty Seminar | Classical Traditions in Science Fiction

Dates: June 5-6, 2017

Consultants: Brett Rogers (University of Puget Sound), Ben Stevens (Trinity University), and Jesse Weiner (Hamilton College)

Course Director: Norman Sandridge (Howard University)

This workshop is for faculty interested in developing and teaching a course on classical traditions in science fiction, with optional Digital Humanities component. Our purpose will be to introduce participants to key primary and secondary sources in the field, to engage in a syllabus-building workshop, and to organize the building of modules for teaching the course. Classical Traditions in Science Fiction will be offered as an inter-institutional Sunoikisis course in Fall 2017, open to any interested faculty.

Participants may either attend in person at the Center or ‘beam in’ via Skype. The seminar begins the morning of Monday, June 5 and ends mid-day Tuesday, June 6. Tuesday afternoon will be open for additional collaborative work or use of the Center’s library. In-person participants are responsible for securing their own accommodations. 

The deadline for registration is Friday, April 21, 2017.

Apply now!


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Enroll now | Leadership Course Tutorial Program

Herodotus in Translation

1*AOOIL2m95KexMTzG6WPFrgThis course will be offered on the campus of Howard University. Others may participate online through a tutorial program. During this inter-institutional, inter-disciplinary, and collaborative experience, students will participate in group discussions, contribute to online forums, and join in weekly online common sessions with all of the students and faculty.

The Tutorial Program

Students who are not enrolled at one of the participating institutions may take the course through the tutorial program, which will include:

  • Weekly, one-hour discussion groups with a tutor in a cohort of no more than five
  • Weekly, one-hour common sessions previously recorded, which feature faculty and students from participating colleges and universities
  • Access to the forums for faculty and students
  • Access to all course materials
  • An option of working one-on-one with a tutor on a project or topic of your choosing at a rate of $30 per hour

For more information about the tutorial program for independent learners, visit the Leadership Course Registration page.

For more information about the course, visit the course website.

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