The Overview Effect: Past, Present, Future 12 hours

The course will focus on the theory of the Overview Effect, as conceived and developed by Frank White, who will be the Instructor. The Structure of the Course is one two-hour meeting once a week for six weeks.


$2000 USD

The Overview Effect: Past, Present, Future

Structure of the Course: One two-hour meeting, once a week for six weeks.
Content of the Course: The course will focus on the theory of the Overview Effect, as conceived and developed by Frank White, who will be the instructor.
Reading/Viewing for the Course: The primary reading for the course will be the following books: (1) Gerard K. O’Neill’s The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space, (2) Humanizing Space: The Life of Gerard K. O’Neill, by Dylan Taylor, with John DiSimone, (3) The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, by Frank White. The primary viewing will be NASA’s “The Astronaut’s Perspective,” part of the “Down to Earth” series. Additional readings and viewings will be added as needed.

12 hours

Session One: Before the Overview Effect

The first person to experience the Overview Effect directly was Yuri Gagarin, who orbited the Earth once in 1961. Frank White’s first public use of the term was in 1985, at a Space Studies Institute conference. His book, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, was published in 1987. So, astronauts and cosmonauts were having this experience for 26 years before it had a name.

2 hours

Session Two: The Early Overview Effect

From 1961 to 1968, astronauts and cosmonauts experienced the Overview Effect in Low Earth Orbit or on suborbital hops. During this time, they typically remarked on the beauty of our planet, and began to note the lack of borders and boundaries on its surface.

2 hours

Session Three: The Apollo Missions

The first mission to take humans to the vicinity of the Moon was Apollo 8, which flew in late December of 1968. This was a major event in the history of the Overview Effect. For the first time, we saw the planet as a whole, through the eyes of other human beings, and the iconic “Earthrise” photo was taken. Although the missions to the Moon only lasted four years, they had incredible impact on our consciousness, and gave a huge boost to the environmental movement.

2 hours

Session Four: Space Stations

Early in the first Space Age, the United States and the Soviet Union began to develop space stations as destinations for their launches. After losing the race to the Moon, the USSR in particular, focused on long-term stays in Low Earth Orbit. In 1971, they launched the first space station, Salyut 1, which was followed by the American Skylab and Mir, another Soviet effort. All of these have, of course, been overshadowed by the remarkable International Space Station (ISS), which has become an outstanding example of international cooperation and experiencing the Overview Effect.

2 hours

Session Five: Commercial Spaceflights and Virtual Reality

It was clear from the beginning of my research that the Overview Effect is a positive experience and that it would be good for the world for more people to have it. It was also clear that this would be accomplished through commercial spaceflights and simulations of the experience, such as virtual reality. Today, both of these are options, and we will discuss them in this session.

2 hours

Session Six: Looking Ahead

Where do we go from here? Will the Overview Effect provide a unifying symbol for the citizens of planet Earth, only to be ignored when humanity begins Large-Scale Space Migration into the solar ecosystem? Will humans on Mars experience the Overview Effect, or something else? We will discuss these and other topics as we complete the course.

. 2 hours

Frank White

Instructor Frank White is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a Rhodes Scholar. He earned an M.Phil. in Politics from Oxford University. Frank’s best-known book, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, is considered by many to be a seminal work in the field of space exploration.


Who can enroll?

Students from all walks of life are invited to enrol! All you need is access to email and a strong internet connection to participate in live sessions and watch KSI educational content.

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Live sessions will happen on Zoom. We encourage you to attend all sessions, but if you are unable to attend recordings will be shared with all course participants. (Note: All times are listed in EST.)

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Yes, waitlists for the next cohort are opened once a course’s seats have been filled, you will have the option to add your name to a waitlist. If a seat becomes available, you’ll be notified via email.

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