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Holy Cross Online Learning

Continue your journey as a lifelong learner from the comfort of your home or office.  Alumni, parents and friends of the College are invited to connect with some of Holy Cross' finest faculty members and participate in noncredit courses that aim to satisfy their thirst for intellectual curiosity.

Holy Cross Online Learning is a new web-based endeavor creating opportunities for enhanced engagement with off-campus communities and serving as a venue for faculty to test innovative instructional methods to benefit our students on campus.  This venture provides another avenue for the College to innovate and learn about the art and science of teaching.  Insights gained from this online experience will enhance today's classroom on Mount St. James. 


Fall 2018
Shakespeare:Time Lord

Helen Whall, English Professor Emerita
Beginning October 15, 2018

Fall online learningHelen Whall, English Professor Emerita, will lead us in a 6-week online course that examines William Shakespeare and the many ways he uses time throughout his plays.

Shakespeare is a "Time Lord," but unlike Dr. Who, he needs no TARDIS, DeLorean or other time machine.  The playwright survives time by using time.  Throughout this course, we will look at five classic plays and study how Shakespeare masters a series of artistic devices that control the pace of a play and actually makes his audience experience the phenomenon of time. By examining Romeo and Juliet; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Part I, Henry IV; Hamlet; and King Lear, Professor Whall will introduce (or re-introduce) you to the playwright and his genius. 



Spring 2018
Alumni & Friends Book Discussion: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

March 12-April 15, 2018

The live session of this course has concluded, however, participants can still register and access the entire archived course by registering below).

Faculty Participants

  • Mary Doyle Roche `90, Associate Professor, Religious Studies
  • Ann Sheehy, Associate Professor, Biology
  • Michael R. West, Associate Professor, History


  • Amit Taneja, Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer

Join us for a lively, self-paced deep dive into the critically-acclaimed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Over the course of five weeks, Holy Cross faculty members will lead us in an online discussion that highlights the historic, ethical and scientific implications of this book and its overarching meaning for us today. All alumni, parents and friends of the College are encouraged to read the book, and then engage in self-paced weekly videos featuring our faculty moderators, and participate in online discussion board threads. This promises to be a great opportunity to learn from fellow members of the Holy Cross community!

About the Book

Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco farmer, whose cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951. Known by scientists as “HeLa” cells, they became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown. Skloot examines the collision between ethics, race, and medicine in this New York Times bestseller, which is also an HBO film starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne. 

Through collaboration with Holy Cross Libraries, we have created a resource webpage with more information about the book and its author, as well as some compelling videos too.

Registration, Discussion Schedule and FAQs

Fall 2017
The Irish American Experience

Edward T. O'Donnell, Associate Professor, History
Beginning October 16, 2017 
(The live session of this course has concluded, however, participants can still register and access the entire archived course by registering below)

Edward T. O'Donnell '86, associate professor of history, will lead us in a 6-week online course beginning October 16, 2017 that will examine the historical experience of the Irish, one of the largest ethnic groups in America. The Irish in America have left an indelible mark on the nation’s economy, politics, and culture, while at the same time they have been shaped by their adoptive country.  Among the topics addressed: colonial era immigration, the Famine, changes in ethnic identity, class conflict and the labor movement, the Catholic Church, machine politics and political affiliations, culture and the arts, nationalism and the fight for Irish freedom, upward mobility and the quest for respectability, and relations with other ethnic and racial groups.