Coursera offers free online courses about Asian cultures and histories

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Canadian actor Simu Liu is among the Asian celebrities who are speaking out against rising Asian hate crimes.

By U2B Staff 

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According to reports, Asian Americans have faced increased incidents of harassment, discrimination, and violence against them in the US since the start of the pandemic.

A Pew Research Center survey has found that since the pandemic, 32% of Asian American adults say they have feared someone might threaten or physically attack them — a greater share than other racial or ethnic groups. 


“The vast majority of Asian adults (81%) also say violence against them is increasing, far surpassing the share of all US adults (56%) who say the same,” it said.

Back in March, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said: “We are outraged and heartbroken by the ongoing acts of violence, most recently the tragic shooting in Atlanta, as well as the long-standing discrimination against Asian communities in the US and globally.” 

To stand in solidarity with Asian communities, Coursera has curated a collection of courses that the public can enrol in for free to learn the tools and strategies to create positive change in learners’ respective communities. 

Students can also choose a paid version, and earn a shareable certificate upon completion.

“In these courses, you can gain a deeper understanding of Asian cultures and histories, develop frameworks for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond, and learn how to be an effective ally and advocate,” said Maggioncalda.

Four online courses about Asian cultures and histories

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

This highly ranked course by Essec Business School notes: “Diversity is a fact. It is also paradoxical. We need to be capable of seeing and hearing differences in order to reap the benefits of diversity. But seeing and hearing differences hone our discriminating reflexes and can also lead to discrimination. 

“If you take this MOOC, you will: 1. understand this paradox, 2. understand its dynamics, and 3. identify ways to manage it, so that you can better channel the diversity potential in the workplace for greater performance and innovation.”

It takes approximately eight hours to complete and is ideal for beginners.

Words Spun Out of Images: Visual and Literary Culture in Nineteenth Century Japan

If you’re interested in art and history, this course offers learners the chance to encounter and appreciate behaviour, moral standards and some of the material conditions surrounding Japanese artists in the nineteenth century to renew our assumptions about what artistic “realism” is and what it meant.

Learners will walk away with a clear understanding of how society and the individual were conceived of and represented in early modern Japan. This course is offered by The University of Tokyo.

Chinese Culture and Contemporary China

Do you want to develop a deeper knowledge of Chinese culture and to better understand China?

This course by Nanjing University will explore the foundations of Chinese civilization and the dimensions of Chinese culture. 

It will pay particular attention to the relationship between Chinese culture and the present-day life of the Chinese people and to the different elements of the culture which are under the present social structures, belief systems, literature, arts, customs, etc. 

The course will cover several main areas of topics, including the foundations of Chinese civilization, and its geography, language, and history; and the core concepts in Chinese philosophies and religions: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.


Establishing a Professional ‘Self’ through Effective Intercultural Communication

This course by the National University of Singapore will teach students how to communicate effectively to establish relationships with colleagues in a culturally and linguistically diverse community and workplace.

“As language reflects cultures, we begin the course by highlighting the need to take into consideration cultural values when we communicate in a multicultural community and workplace. We then move on to discuss some effective communication skills required to build relationships with colleagues in a globalised workplace,” it notes.

Students will learn to adopt appropriate intrapersonal and interpersonal, verbal and nonverbal, communicative strategies to present information based on the seven communication principles.

The courses listed above were curated by Coursera in partnership with the Asian Identities Employee Resource Group.