Free courses at Tel Aviv University, Wikimedia Commons

Everyone living in Israel gets the chance to show guests around their lovely country and spout off little tidbits of history that make them seem like experts. And tourists coming to Israel hope to be guided around by someone with a little knowledge of history. Tel Aviv University just made that a whole lot easier by offering online history courses – for free! Yes, you heard that right. No fees and no strings attached. So for anyone who’s been harboring a desire to know more about Israel’s history, now is the time to sharpen your pencils, plug in your computers and learn. TAU is partnering with Coursera, which is an online educational company working with top universities around the world to empower people with free education.

Tel Aviv University Free Course Offerings

Tel Aviv University, which is the largest and most comprehensive educational institution of higher learning in Israel, recently ranked in the top 150 universities in the world. The two online courses it will be offering in the upcoming academic year are “The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem” and “The Emergence of the Modern Middle East.”

Following are brief summaries of each course:

The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem

This course will cover the demise of the Kingdom of Judah, Jerusalem’s fall to the Babylonians and the subsequent Babylonian exile. It will continue with how the new territory of Judah was reshaped and will go up through the return of the exiles. The lecture takes into consideration all Biblical evidence and includes archaeological research as well as Egyptian and Babylonian sources to offer a comprehensive study of this one hundred year period. The six-week course will be taught by Professor Oded Lipschits and Ido Koch, beginning October 1, 2013.

The Emergence of the Modern Middle East

This series will give historical facts regarding the time after the fall of the Ottoman Empire through the building of the modern Middle East, including the years after WWI and bringing us up to the present day. Subjects will include Arab nationalism, problems affecting politics of Arab states, religion and the state and Islamist politics. More recent subjects include an in depth analysis of what is known as the Arab Spring.  This eight-week course begins March 1, 2014 and will be taught by Professor Asher Susser and Duygu Atlas.

You can look forward to more free learning as other Israeli universities have already signed up to offer courses.