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POL 59 — Which Side of History? How Technology Is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Sep 27—Nov 15
Time: 5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $380
Instructor(s): James Steyer
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
Live Online(About Formats)
5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Sep 27—Nov 15
8 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
James Steyer
Course Description:

We are living in a truly remarkable time. Our entire society has been transformed by a technology revolution and its 24/7 influence on our lives. Silicon Valley has followed through on its promise to change the world on a vast scale—but not always for the better. This course will examine a number of critical issues facing our society: How can we hold tech platforms accountable for safeguarding basic democratic norms? How do we protect the privacy of consumers and stop data abuses? How will we ensure the mental health and well-being of our society as we emerge from the pandemic?

This course will provide a unique analysis of this new technology reality. In addition, this course will feature the reflections, unique guidance, and recommendations of some of the most influential thought leaders of our time.

Guest speakers—including preeminent political, business, technology, foreign policy, and academic leaders—will bring a unique perspective on the extraordinary impact of technology on our lives. Topics will include: democracy, race and gender roles, privacy, climate change, kids and education, and mental health.

The course will shape the conversations we have around technology in our society, and our nation’s future, for many years to come.

Guest Speakers:

Hillary Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State (Obama Administration) and Former United States Senator from New York

David Axelrod, Institute Director of The University of Chicago Institute of Politics

Cecilia Kang, Technology and Regulation Journalist at The New York Times, Co-Author of An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination

Thomas Friedman, Commentator and New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn, Internet Entrepreneur

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP

Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States (Biden Administration) and author of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation and Board Member of Common Sense Media

Julie Lythcott-Haims, Former corporate lawyer and Stanford dean, Board Member of Common Sense Media, and author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Bree of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

Julian Castro, Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Obama Administration)

Margaret Spellings, Former United States Secretary of Education (George W. Bush Administration), President and CEO of Texas 2036

Sal Khan, Founder of Khan Academy, Educator, Entrepreneur

James Montoya, College Board; former Dean of Admissions and Vice Provost, Stanford University

John B. King, Jr., Former Secretary of Education (Obama Administration), President and CEO of The Education Trust

Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chair of the Federal Communications Commission

Deval Patrick, Former Governor of Massachusetts

Nicholas Kristof, Journalist and New York Times Op-Ed Columnist, Co-Author of Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope

Kara Swisher, Editor of Recode, Contributing Opinion Writer at The New York Times

Laurie Santos, Cognitive Scientist and Professor of Psychology at Yale

Jonathan Zittrain
, Professor of Internet Law and the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School, Board Member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Ellen Pao, Co-Founder and CEO of Project Include, Former CEO of Reddit

This course is designed for the entire Stanford community, and Continuing Studies students will be joined by Stanford undergraduate and graduate students.

Founder and CEO, Common Sense Media; Adjunct Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education

James Steyer has taught courses at Stanford for more than thirty years. He has received a number of teaching honors, including the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is the author of The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on Our Children, Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age, and Which Side of History? How Technology Is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) James P. Steyer, Which Side of History? How Technology Is Reshaping Democracy and Our Lives (ISBN 1797205161)