• University of Twente logo

Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies

Learn about the impact of technology on society. Explore the philosophy of technology and mediation theory, focused on design.

9,037 enrolled on this course

Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Understanding and designing the relations between technology and society

In every aspect of our lives we make use of all kinds of technologies. Technologies can anticipate needs or solve problems, and they can extend or enhance human capacities and activities. Technologies have made life easier, but also complicated our world. In this course you will get acquainted with some key approaches in philosophy of technology and design. The course focuses on the relations between humans and technologies. You will learn how philosophy can help us understand the social implications of technologies. And you will find out how to apply these insights in the practice of design.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Robot: Hello everybody, I want to invite you to join my course on philosophy of technology. Well, well, my course, not so fast now. Actually, I’m the one teaching this course. So, shall I take over from now? Human beings have always used technologies. But what’s the difference between a hammer and the technologies that we use today, like smartphones, printers that print in 3-D, cars that drive themselves, medical implants, or even robots teaching a class? In almost every aspect of life, technologies play an important role. They help us to do things, to expand our capacities, and they even do things on their own. Technology has made life easier, but at the same time also more complex.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds And the impact of technology can reach far beyond the intentions of the designers and users. How to understand this influence of technology on human beings and on society, and how to deal with it in a responsible way, these will be the questions that we will work on in this course. We will show you how to analyze the relationship between technology and society, and also how to use this analysis to help you design new technologies. Many people believe that the main question is whether technology controls society or if society can still control technology. We will give you an alternative approach, in which we recognize that technology helps us to both understand and shape our lives, our society, our world.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 seconds In this view, technologies act as mediators of practices and experiences, allowing us to interact with the world around us. With our approach of technological mediation, we can analyze the influence of technology on human life. And what’s more, we can use this approach for the ethical evaluation and design of new technologies. At the design lab of the University of Twente, we connect science and society through design, combining high tech and the human touch. In this inspiring cross-disciplinary ecosystem, we can step beyond philosophical theory and link our research with the cutting edge of technological innovation, a perfect place to teach this course. And we really hope you will join.

What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction into some classical thinkers in philosophy of technology.
  • Reflecting on the power of technology and if humans are still in control.
  • Learning about the philosophical approach of technological mediation.
  • Applying the ethical dimension of technology to the design process.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Evaluate some classical thinkers in philosophy of technology.
  • Reflect on the power of technology: are humans still in control?
  • Explore the contemporary philosophical approach of technological mediation.
  • Engage in case studies to get insights in the impact of technology on society and human life.
  • Debate the ethical dimension of technology and apply this to design.
  • Discuss the ethical limits of designing technologies that influence our behaviour.

Who is the course for?

This course has been created for anyone interested in the relations between technology and society, and in particular for people working or studying in philosophy, engineering, design, social science and policy. The course might be specifically relevant to those interested in what philosophical analysis can contribute to the practice of design, engineering, and policy-making.

Who will you learn with?

Professor of Philosophy of Technology and co-director of the DesignLab at the University of Twente researcher in the philosophy of human-technology relations, ethics, and design. (www.ppverbeek.nl)

Alumna of the MSc Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society University of Twente | philosopher, researcher and debater at Rathenau Instituut (www.linkedin.com/in/r-dejong)

Project manager Technology & Society

Alumna of MSc Public Administration at University of Twente


Currently enrolled in the PA-PSTS programme at the University of Twente.


Who developed the course?

University of Twente

As a young and entrepreneurial university in the Netherlands, the University of Twente prepares young people to tackle the grand challenges the world will be facing during the coming decades.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLPhilosophyTech to talk about this course on social media.