“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.
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
Systemic Racism - Pew Research
Personal optimism and collective pessimism
Climate Optimism - New York Times: The Morning
Generational Differences re: Optimism vs pessimism
Americans are surprisingly optimistic right now—and millennials and Gen Z are ready to turn optimism into action
The Dawn of Everything- David Graeber