Crash courses for the desperate

Lately I’ve been thinking about what to do with students who suddenly need to get up to speed in a field, and don’t have time to take a course or immerse themselves in it for a year. I’m especially thinking of MA students or students writing an undergrad senior thesis, who need some purchase on the field and can’t just coast on glib summaries anymore, especially if they’re thinking about going on to do further graduate work.

So far what I’ve come up with are some little one-week self-education programs for a few different areas, recognizing that what I’d recommend isn’t necessarily what other people would recommend, and that these might date quickly. You can see why I’m imagining these for grad students or advanced undergrads—you’d have to be pretty self-motivated to do these.

Comments would be welcome.

These are meant to fit on a double-sided half-sheet of A4.


  1. I love this idea. I’m also imagining using something like this to study for exams (or, the creation of a series of these AS exams — create guides like these and annotate justifying your choices, possibly also justifying exclusions).

  2. Actually, that’s one of the reasons I thought these could be useful. PhD students here don’t do qualifying exams, and the programs are very very short, so they have to be gotten up to speed quick-like, preferably during their MA.

  3. Also could be helpful for thinking about teaching a new prep — either drawing on someone else’s crash course, or using this form to structure the learning curve for prepping. It’s an interesting form.

  4. Hi, thanks for this, I will look up your crash course on the history of science. Time willing, on Queer Theory and Modernism too. Have a great day!

  5. oh, could you post a crash course on science and gender, feminist intersections with science or something in this line?

  6. Are you my MA student? No? Then no, not on demand just for you. I’m a scholar, not a vending machine. Good grief.

  7. Dear Natalia, you are not a vending machine but you seem to act like one. Knowledge is not anyone’s entitlement, I will learn about what I want to learn even if you don’t help me. But, good luck being a cog in the wheel of the corporate-academic complex and all the best with trying to make an effect on the world. You might know a lot but it means nothing with your kind of ownership. Finally, whether you admit it or not you are a capitalist brat thinking that I am begging you here. Sorry to have asked you especially. Teaching queer, modernism and what not and good griefing me, i just wanted to learn and thought you’d be the helpful kind but continue teaching your students in ma who can afford to pay, my response will not be academic. Deaf people like you will also hear one day! Bye!

  8. A vending machine is a machine that dispenses items such as snacks, beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, cologne, consumer products, and even gold and gems to customers automatically, after the customer inserts currency or credit into the machine.

    — Source Wikipedia (free knowledge and no grief)

  9. I’m just posting because it depressed me a bit that the last comment was Manpreet’s patronizing BS.
    The crash courses are a cool idea. Thanks for posting them!

  10. Hi Elliot: I have no personal use for a crash course in geography or GIS, but I’m sure lots of other people do. Happy to post a link if you want to share such a thing!

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