"It's Hard to be an Optimist Nowadays!": Talking about Politics Resource List

April 21st, 2022

“It is hard to be an optimist nowadays! Does it matter if we see the glass half empty or half full?

Here we are. It’s 2022. A pandemic, a broken political system, a war of aggression, racism, inflation, shootings, a climate crisis… just to get started. Should we succumb to pessimism or hold on to optimism about the future and the possibility of progress? Does it matter politically? Younger generations seem to be fed up with doomers, at least with climate doomers. Optimism and pessimism are rarely discussed as useful lenses to decode political action. Yet, they are very important in our personal lives. This final conversation of the semester explores our attitude toward social progress and the future, the value of being an optimist or a pessimist, and how those attitudes shape the political process and our civic engagement. Rather than focusing on a particular political issue, this conversation is meant to be broader and more personal, to be a moment of reflection about the political present and future. These are some resources compiled for the April 1, 2022 discussion led by Professor Andrea Boggio.

New York Times ‘OK Doomer’ and the Climate Advocates Who Say It’s Not Too Late

Optimists in Chief/Pessimists in Chief

Enlightened Now -Steven Pinker  

How to Prevent the Next Pandemic - Bill Gates

Failed States - Noam Chomsky

Enlightenment in US Elections - Noam Chomsky


Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey - The Lancet

Equal Pay Act

U.S. worker earnings - female to male ratio 1990-2020 pg 45- Statista/US Census Bureau

Race Relations

Systemic Racism - Pew Research

Police Reform

One year after George Floyd's death, there's cautious optimism for police reform - CBS  

Personal optimism and collective pessimism

Climate Optimism - New York Times: The Morning

Confirmation Bias

How 'optimism bias' shapes our decisions and futures- BBC

Generational Differences re: Optimism vs pessimism 

Pie-Eyed Optimists: Baby-Boomers the Optimistic Generation?

Millennials are way more optimistic about the future than Baby Boomers

Looking to the Future, Public Sees an America in Decline on Many Fronts

Additional Resources

This Happiness & Age Chart Will Leave You With a Smile (Literally)  

The Happy Map

Attitudes on Same-Sex Marriage  

Marriage Equality: Global Comparisons

The Dawn of Everything- David Graeber


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