Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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Radical Hope: Inspiring Sustainability Transformations through Our Past

Conference Report (Rachel Carson Center, Munich, Germany, 3–4 July 2017)

By Erika Bsumek and John Barry

Hope by Vaclav Havel

Hope is a state of mind, not a state of the world
Either we have hope within us or we don’t.
Hope is not a prognostication—it’s an orientation of the spirit.
You can’t delegate that to anyone else.
Hope in this deep and powerful sense is not the same as joy
when things are going well,
or the willingness to invest in enterprises
that are obviously headed for early success,
but rather an ability to work for something to succeed.
Hope is definitely NOT the same as optimism.
It’s not the conviction that something will turn out well,
but the certainty that something makes sense,
regardless of how it turns out.
It is hope, above all, that gives us strength to live
and to continually try new things,even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now.
In the face of this absurdity, life is too precious a thing
to permit its devaluation by living pointlessly, emptily,
without meaning, without love, and, finally, without hope.

In early July 2017, the Rachel Carson Center, together with University of Austin, Texas hosted a two-day workshop on “Radical Hope.” It brought together 21 people from a variety of continents and disciplinary perspectives to explore and exchange ideas on that renewable and essential resource: hope. A resource that is often sadly and noticeably lacking in academic and popular conversations on the dominant framing of the Anthropocene in terms of ecological “crisis,” pragmatic pessimism, and scientific “realism.” Continue reading

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Doctoral Students Attend Workshop

workshop

Photograph: Munich Re.

Environment and Society doctoral candidates Ruhi Deol and Vikas Lakhani participated in a workshop entitled “Risk, Livelihoods, Capacity, Recovery, Insurance, and Tourism” on 24 May 2016, organized by Prof. Dr. Gordon Winder of the Geography Department at LMU, and the RCC. They presented their research projects to representatives from the Munich Re Foundation and visiting professor Dr. Mukesh Kanaskar, a RISK award winner from the All India Institute of Local Self-Government, Mumbai. Ruhi and Vikas are both members of Prof. Winder’s Disasters Research Group.