Topic outline

  • Course Description:

    Throughout the history of thought and technology, technology has been frequently regarded as a way to transform the human condition and enhance capabilities. For instance, in ICT transhumanist ideas connect to discourses that present technologies as extensions of the human senses, and similarly in fields like biotechnology and medicine transhuman approaches claim that it is possible to overcome human limitations like death and ageing. From a philosophical and cultural viewpoint, there are a variety of post-human theories including transhumanism with a focus on human experiences and perception in relation to technology.

    This course aims to bring an understanding of transhumanism, a philosophical movement advocating for enhancing human intellectual and physiological abilities through technology. The course combines ethical discussions with hands-on activities that help acquire a first-hand experience on what it means to design technological systems where the distinction between humans and technologies is not that clear anymore.  Throughout the course, participants will get familiar to design thinking methods and tools to design and assess transhuman systems from a critical perspective.

    Learning objectives:

    The course intends to create a space for debate and creative exploration of transhuman systems through design methods. During the course, special attention is dedicated to the agency of humans and human abilities, such as empathy.

    Through this course, students are expected to:

    • Become familiar with the concept of transhumanism and the ethical debates that appear in the design of transhuman systems.

    • Develop an understanding of theoretical frameworks focused on the relations between technological devices and human senses, and their implications for technology design.

    • Get acquainted with design thinking and design methods that foster creativity and alternative thinking.

    • Critically reflect on the challenges and opportunities associated with the design of transhuman systems.

    • Gain a first-hand experience of the technology design process, informed by participatory and human-centric approaches.

    • Collaborate with others in order to solve a transdisciplinary design project.


    1. Introduction to transhumanism

    2. Reflections on what makes us human

    3. Design thinking in Information Technology Systems (ITS)

    4. Critical and speculative design

    5. Group project development

    Assessment Methods and Criteria:

    Students will be evaluated based on their participation and input throughout the course. In addition, the group project which is expected to be presented at the end of the course will have a central role in the evaluation. This project will be assessed by peers and the teachers in charge. There will be a public display of the final project works.

    Study Material:


    • Bostrom, N. (2005). A history of transhumanist thought.
    • Ferrando, F. (2013). Posthumanism, transhumanism, antihumanism, metahumanism, and new materialisms. Existenz, 8(2), 26-32.
    • More, M. (2013). The philosophy of transhumanism. The transhumanist reader: Classical and contemporary essays on the science, technology, and philosophy of the human future, 3-17.
    • Haraway, D. (1991). "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century". Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge. ISBN 0415903866.
    Philosophy of Technology:
    • Mitcham, C. (1994). Thinking through technology: The path between engineering and philosophy. University of Chicago Press.
    • Winner, L. (1980). Do artifacts have politics?. Daedalus, 121-136.
    Design thinking:
    • Brown, T., & Wyatt, J. (2010). Design thinking for social innovation IDEO. Development Outreach, 12(1), 29-31.23
    Participatory Design methods:
    • Muller, M. J., & Kuhn, S. (1993). Participatory design. Communications of the ACM, 36(6), 24-28.

    Systems thinking:
    • Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer. Chelsea green publishing. Pages: 11- 35
    Further optional reading:

    • Anderson, M. L. (2003). Embodied cognition: A field guide. Artificial intelligence149(1), 91-130.
    • Cilesiz, S. (2011). A phenomenological approach to experiences with technology: Current state, promise, and future directions for research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(4), 487-510
    • McLuhan, M. (1977). Laws of the Media. Et cetera34, 173.
    • Sanders, E. B. N., Brandt, E., & Binder, T. (2010). A framework for organizing the tools and techniques of participatory design. In Proceedings of the 11th biennial participatory design conference (pp. 195-198). ACM.
    • Sanders, E. B. N., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. Co-design, 4(1), 5-18.
    • Senge, P. M. (1997). The fifth discipline. Measuring Business Excellence1(3), 46-51.
    • Philosophy for technology - IEEE Global Initiative. (2017). Ethically Aligned Design. IEEE Standards v2.


    The total amount of hours of the course is 81h (3 credits). The work hours are distributed as follows:

    - 16h of lectures

    - 10 hours of reading and assignments

    - 55 hours of group work