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SSU 111 — Stanford Saturday University: 2019

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Saturday
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 1 day
Date(s): Mar 2
Time: 8:45 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Feb 23
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $150
Limit: 385
Status: Open
8:45 am—4:00 pm
Mar 2
1 day
Drop By
Feb 23
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
We are pleased to host our ninth annual Saturday University, and look forward to a day of shared intellectual stimulation featuring some of Stanford’s most engaging faculty. We will start the day with two morning “classes”—inspiring lectures and open conversations with the audience. We will break for a box lunch and return in the afternoon for two more sessions. In the past, Saturday Universities have drawn 200–300 participants, and everybody has gone away at the end of the day feeling intellectually invigorated. We are confident that this year’s lineup will be as exhilarating. Please join us.


Welcome, Refreshments, and Check-In: 8:45 am

Opening Remarks: 9:15 am
Charles Junkerman, Dean of Stanford Continuing Studies (1999–2018)

Session 1: 9:30 – 10:40 am
GPS for Humanity
Bradford Parkinson, Edward C. Wells Professor, Emeritus, Aeronautics and Astronautics; Co-Founder, Stanford Center for Position, Navigation and Time

Just forty-five years ago, Brad Parkinson (then an Air Force colonel) led a team that designed a satellite-based navigation system that eventually became known as GPS. Today, virtually every mobile phone system in the world relies on GPS, and almost every ship and aircraft depends on GPS to provide positioning information. Other applications include Earth movement, transportation, object tracking, and resource identification. Parkinson will argue that GPS was a “gift” to humanity, and that its loss or disruption would be catastrophic for the entire globe.

Session 2: 10:50 am – 12:00 pm
Déjà Vu? The United States in the First and Current Gilded Ages
Richard White
, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford

Historians have regularly treated the first American Gilded Age (1866–1900) as “flyover country,” a boring span between the more exciting eras of the Civil War and World War I. But recently, there has been renewed interest in the period as more of us feel that we are living through a second Gilded Age. The parallels are abundant: weak presidents, a partisan stalemate, contentious immigration, corruption, rising inequality, and an environmental crisis. But to what extent are these parallels superficial? Or do they reveal deeper structural truths about the United States that, while not always apparent, persist?

Lunch: 12:00 – 1:20 pm

Session 3: 1:30 – 2:40 pm
Cultivating Everyday Heroism
Philip Zimbardo, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Stanford

Philip Zimbardo is most widely known for his dramatic Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971, but he is recognized as well for the first systematic analysis of shyness, and research into what he termed the psychology of Time Perspective. Recently, he has been focusing on the addictive aspects of video games and online pornography for teen boys. In 2010, he created a nonprofit foundation, the Heroic Imagination Project, dedicated to training youth and adults to become everyday heroes. His work is based on the concept that everybody can develop a capacity for heroism, translating the private virtue of compassion into heroic civic acts of goodness.

Session 4: 2:50 – 4:00 pm
The Changing Landscape of Longevity
Laura L. Carstensen, Director, Stanford Center on Longevity; Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy; Professor of Psychology, Stanford

We are approaching a watershed moment in human history. In 2035, the number of people in the United States who are over 65 years of age will surpass the number under 18. By the time our children reach old age, living to 100 will be commonplace. These demographic changes are influencing virtually all aspects of life: education, families, financial markets, and politics. Although there are major challenges associated with this increase in life expectancy, longer lives present an unprecedented opportunity: to use these added years of life to improve the quality of life at all ages.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.