Our world is completely integrated. The future will be even more so. Business, education, medicine, entertainment, and personal communications are becoming global in reach and impact. In the future, to be successful, one will need a global perspective and international experience.
The Spjut Program in Technology and Humanity (SPTH) helps you gain this perspective through an innovative curriculum that emphasizes technology’s role in society — past, present, and future. It brings together students from all majors across campus who share an interest in the impact of technology on humanity.
Through SPTH’s four pillars — interdisciplinary studies; international experiences; real-world learning; and innovative technologies — you’ll engage with Stanford faculty who represent a variety of disciplines including history, literature, political science, anthropology, business, education, engineering, law and medicine. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in internships and study abroad programs around the world.
It’s All About the Game
The cornerstone of SPTH is Technology & Humanity: A Modern History (TECHNOHIST). This yearlong course uses games as a medium to explore how technology has changed society throughout history. TECHNOHIST students write their own games based on historical events or technological developments; professors use them to teach a variety
There’s a game that every adult plays. It’s not sold in stores, you’re not forced to buy it, and no one forces you to play. But everyone does.
It’s called “the game of life.” And it has rules.
Like all games, the goal is winning.
We tend to think of “winning” as getting the most toys–money, power, fancy cars, big houses. But there’s more than one way to win at the game of life. It turns out that when you look at people who have reached old age without much money or power or prestige, but who are nonetheless happy with their lives, you find a common theme that explains their success: They played a different game than the one most people play.
They focused on doing things instead of getting things–on building things rather than collecting things. And they did it for the joy of the work itself rather than for the rewards they might get for it.
For years, I have been trying to teach my students the importance of context by pointing out that the “true meaning” of a tool–in this case, a game–is in the way it is used. In the game of golf, for example, the club is not just a metal stick with a head affixed to it; it is a tool that can be used many different ways. The same “contextual” argument holds true when we consider how games are played in education.
When I’m asked to talk to teachers and administrators about using games as tools for learning, I tell them that they need to realize that games are not just entertainment. Just as the golf club can be used as a weapon, so too can video games be used for educational purposes.
It’s a simple idea: Games can be used for learning purposes and not just for fun. But there are two problems with this idea: First, it’s too simple and second, it’s wrong (at least partly).
Games are inherently educational. They have rules and goals and reward systems. They involve trial and error, experimentation and discovery. They require players to make decisions about how best to achieve their goals. And so on. But what makes games particularly well suited for learning purposes is
I am only one of many who are or were involved with computer games. I have been developing them for the past 8 years and, before that, playing them for 10. During this time I have become aware of an interesting phenomenon that I call “The Extinction of Computer Games”. By extinction I mean the disappearance of games as a cultural form. In my opinion, this is a direct result of the domination of the computer game market by a very limited number of producers, who have become more and more conservative over the years.
These are people who have no feeling for games but only for money. They are certainly not bad people, but their primary interest is to make money and their motivation in making games is therefore to design something that sells well. These producers rarely play games themselves and seldom have any idea what is actually fun about playing. They are driven by commercial considerations alone and so they stick to tried-and-tested formulas, which they try to exploit to the fullest. Their fear of any creative experimentation is so great that they will even suppress any ideas within their own teams that do not fit with what they think will sell.
I know you’re worried about what’s happening in the world today, and you should be. In fact, if you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention. There are a lot of bad things going on, from global warming to nuclear terrorism to the rise of anti-science irrationality and religious extremism. Things have never been so bad for so many people for so long, and there are no easy solutions to any of these problems. So we need to face up to reality and start working together to solve them.
But it’s not all bad news. In fact, I’d argue that we live in the best possible time in history to be alive. How can that possibly be true? I’ll get back to that shortly, but first let me tell you how this piece came into being. We were putting together this special issue on the future of science, and my job was to write an introduction to it—a piece that would capture our hopes and fears for the future of science as well as our vision for this issue as a whole.
I started writing a draft of what I thought I was supposed to write, but it didn’t feel right. Then I realized why: It wasn’t true. The subtext was: “Things have never been worse
The game has a lot of different layers and it’s always changing. But at its heart, it’s about taking care of the customer. Which is why we have to always be innovating and thinking ahead of the curve. It’s not just about making a better mousetrap, it’s about figuring out how we can make a better environment for our customers to live in.
The business cycle is like that too. We’re always looking at the market and trying to get ahead of the trends, which is why we were able to make the shift from our old product line to our new one so smoothly. And it’s why our stock price has doubled over the last five years.