Cars: Past, Present & Future (A Free Course from Stanford)

Course Descrip­tion: In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s nov­el The Great Gats­by, it was a mur­der weapon. In the movie The Grad­u­ate, it was a sym­bol of youth­ful rebel­lion. In count­less songs it has served as a metaphor for every­thing from sex­u­al­i­ty to social sta­tus. It has shaped our cities and changed our his­to­ry. It has expand­ed our hori­zons and deter­mined our pol­i­tics. It is the auto­mo­bile.

In this course (orig­i­nal­ly pre­sent­ed in Stan­ford’s Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies pro­gram) we will explore the past, present, and future of the auto­mo­bile, bridg­ing the human­i­ties, social sci­ences, design, and engi­neer­ing, and tak­ing up the human expe­ri­ences of design­ing, mak­ing, dri­ving, being dri­ven, liv­ing with, and dream­ing of the auto­mo­bile. Con­ver­sa­tions with guest col­leagues from Stan­ford and beyond will focus on a dif­fer­ent theme each week and will be sup­port­ed by read­ings and media: cars in the movies; the quest for speed and per­for­mance; the engi­neer­ing chal­lenges of auto­mo­bil­i­ty; the psy­chol­o­gy of dri­ving; auto­mo­tive archae­ol­o­gy; the future of mobil­i­ty; autonomous cars; the car as art; and cars and glob­al­iza­tion. Over­all the course is intend­ed to offer a case study in the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary under­stand­ing of human-cen­tered design. Root­ed in an appre­ci­a­tion of the rich­ness of our human expe­ri­ence with the car, the course is informed by his­to­ry, archae­ol­o­gy, ethnog­ra­phy, human-tech­nol­o­gy inter­ac­tion, mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, and cog­ni­tive sci­ence.

Guest speak­ers:

  • Sven Beik­er, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, CARS (Cen­ter for Auto­mo­tive Research at Stan­ford)
  • Reil­ly Bren­nan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Revs Pro­gram at Stan­ford
  • Chris Gerdes, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor, School of Engi­neer­ing; Direc­tor of CARS (Cen­ter for Auto­mo­tive Research at Stan­ford) and the Revs Pro­gram at Stan­ford
  • Joe Hus­tein, Lawyer; Lec­tur­er in Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing — Design, Stan­ford
  • David Kel­ley, Founder, IDEAO; Don­ald W. Whit­ti­er Pro­fes­sor in Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing; Direc­tor, Has­so Plat­tner Insti­tute of Design and the Stan­ford Design Pro­gram
  • Cliff Nass, Thomas More Storke Pro­fes­sor and Pro­fes­sor, by cour­tesy, of Soci­ol­o­gy, of Com­put­er Sci­ence, of Edu­ca­tion and of Law; Direc­tor of CARS (Cen­ter for Auto­mo­tive Research at Stan­ford) and The Revs Pro­gram at Stan­ford
  • Jonathan Sum­mers, Motor­ing His­to­ri­an, Film­mak­er

The lec­tures can be watched in the playlist above. Or see them on iTunes and YouTube.

Cars: Past, Present, and Future has been added to our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

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