Exploring Ideas: Luther and the West

Luther and the West, a new Northwestern University massive open online course (MOOC) will be available on the Coursera platform on October 3rd. This course is designed and created to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Created by Christine Helmer, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Arthur E. Andersen Teaching and Research professor, this digital humanities course focuses on the work of Martin Luther and explores the ways that Luther’s message still has meaning and resonates with contemporary Western society. 

A major part of the MOOC experience is delivered through video lectures, which were developed with a painted timeline as a part of the set from where the lectures were videotaped, and custom props that were created to amplify particular themes and ideas. “As a humanities professor I am used to texts and interpreting texts, and I think the MOOC has given me the opportunity to explore the visual as a very powerful and meaningful medium,” says Dr. Helmer.

Exploring Ideas: Luther and the West

Luther and the West explores the world of Luther and his impact in three parts: his views of the 16th century bible readership, Luther’s views on freedom and how it still resonates today, and the complicated relationship between religion and politics – which is still very relevant in our contemporary world. In many ways, the Roman Catholic Church schism that began with in 1517 with Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses can be broadly interpreted to have been one of the primary acts that shaped our modern Western world. This course delves deeply into the writings and acts of Luther that have impacted many of the most important and critical 20th century theologians and social activists, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Of the course, Dr. Helmer states, “The way that we teach the humanities here at Northwestern is a worthwhile enterprise for a worldwide audience.”

The MOOC consists of video lectures, quizzes, course and supplemental readings, and explores many areas of Dr. Helmer’s scholarship. Author of many articles and books on the subject, her latest book, Theology and the End of Doctrine (Westminster John Knox Press 2014), explores theology’s preoccupation with doctrine in the 20th century.

Her MOOC – Luther and the West – can be found at: https://www.coursera.org/learn/luther-and-the-west.

The entire catalog of Northwestern University’s MOOC offerings are at: https://www.coursera.org/northwestern