New Funding Initiatives for Hope and Optimism Research

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Hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of what happens, argued philosopher Václav Havel, while optimism is the conviction that something will turn out well. But does this really express the nature of these two attitudes and how they differ? Perhaps more importantly, we might wonder how they could be nurtured, and about the benefits and risks of each.

The Hope and Optimism Project, a three-year initiative at the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University, will bring together social scientists, philosophers, and theologians to generate new and collaborative work on these and other issues concerning hope and optimism. The project, which is supported by a $4.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, will feature three large-scale RFPs to support research in psychology, philosophy, and theology, as well as a residential fellows programs aimed primarily at philosophers. The project will also include a competition intended to popularize and publicize the themes and results of the project by offering awards for 10 new short films and one new stage play.

Letters of intent for the first RFP, “The Science of Hope and Optimism,” are due November 1, 2014. More details are available online.