April 8, 2020

Converting Information Technology to Deliberative Technology


  • To what extent is it possible to take the distance out of distance learning?

Over the last two decades, Professor Michael J. Sandel has become what can only be described as a “rockstar philosopher.”

His course Justice (already one of the most popular classes in Harvard’s history) was the first Harvard course to be made freely available online, and his lively philosophical discussions using the Socratic method have taken place anywhere from intimate classrooms to packed stadiums.

In 2012, Sandel worked with BBC Radio 4 to produce a three-part series titled The Public Philosopher that featured live debates in locations across the world. In this keynote from the 2018 Harvard University IT Summit, Sandel shares his insights from his most recent endeavor, which takes the concept of global dialogue even further.

The Global Philosopher uses Harvard Business School’s innovative virtual classroom, HBX Live, to bring together participants from all over the world for real time public debate. Sandel highlights the promise and the limitations of using technology to foster public discourse and leaves us with the question: how might we harness the good of the internet, social media, and digital technology to create platforms that foster genuine listening and learning — rather than becoming an echo chamber for vitriolic shouting matches, as they often do now?

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