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UT launches MOOC in Philosophy of Technology and Design

On 29 May 2017 the University of Twente will launch a MOOC in Philosophy of Technology and Design; an accessible and practical introduction to the philosophy of technology. During this free, three-week online course, led by philosopher Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek, students will study the relationships between people, technology and society, and how these relationships can be influenced.

Technology is deeply embedded in every facet of contemporary life. In the past, a new technology was generally seen as a neutral instrument that might broaden our options or make our lives easier, but it has since become clear that technology is more than just a means to an end: it also affects our behaviour and the way we see the world – often more profoundly than its makers intended, or in unexpected ways.

In this MOOC, students learn to identify the effects of technology on people and examine how this knowledge can be brought to bear on the assessment, design and development of new technologies. This is done by reference to concrete examples such as robots, self-driving cars, and so-called ‘behaviour-changing technologies’, such as roads that influence our driving style.

Target group

The MOOC lasts for three weeks in all and has a study load of about four hours per week. The course is intended for anyone interested in philosophy or with a professional link with technology. According to Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek, professor of Philosophy of Technology and head lecturer of the MOOC, the online course can best be seen as an accessible and very practical introduction to fundamental questions in the philosophy of technology. Verbeek sees the MOOC as an ideal new way to convey the latest academic insights to a wider audience. “I regard it as our social responsibility. This knowledge should not, after all, remain limited to the scientific domain. We want the way we do philosophy to link technology and society together.”

The DesignLab of the University of Twente, which Verbeek co-founded, is central to the MOOC both physically and in terms of content. Here, researchers and students from different disciplines work together to solve issues that go beyond pure technology. Concrete subjects drawn from the lab’s daily research and design practice play an important role within the MOOC.


The MOOC ‘Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies’ begins on Monday 29 May and will be delivered using the FutureLearn platform. Applicants are invited to register here.