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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