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Princeton University

HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism

Princeton University via edX


In this course, we look for answers to seemingly unsolvable queries: Why breathe? Why breed? Why bleed? What justifies continuing, creating, and killing lives? Seeking answers to these thorny questions, Princeton University and Tel Aviv University have joined hands to create a unique online course that delves into the depths of the human condition and its politics.

Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism (HOPE) is a journey into the human condition and its politics, turning to existentialism for guidance. The course explores, on both individual and political levels, the following themes: Human / nature, identity & authenticity, freedom, reflection, happiness, death & dread, meaning, morality & ethics, truth & trust, God & religion, alienation & love, and finally—hope.”

Most philosophers ask “what is the good life?” and answer "to feel good, or to be good, or to do good." Existentialism asks “what is life good for?” and traces the answers that people, in their lived experience, give—to foster our own.

HOPE is a richly interdisciplinary course anchored in political science and philosophy. It also draws on history, sociology, psychology, and economy—synthesizing theoretical insights with empirical findings, both vintage and novel. HOPE shows that science and art can create a wonderful synergy when studying—indeed foregrounding—our humanity.

HOPE employs novel technologies in ways that enhance—not drain—our humanity and our ability to turn from “power politics” to “purpose politics,” cultivating creative, courageous, civil choices—the gist of existential politics.

In HOPE, you will find:
  • Animated talks, interviews and student discussions
  • Exploration of key concepts and figures—thinkers, artists, and politicians—both ancient and modern
  • A host of fascinating questions to probe alone, and together, with friends and in class
  • Myriad multimedia features, including various forms of art (painting, prose and poetry, cinema, tv, and music)
  • An invitation to choose between several edifying projects, including a personal journal and a collective newspaper

HOPE has been created in collaboration with Tel Aviv University.

Taught by

Uriel Abulof

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4.9 rating, based on 247 reviews

Start your review of HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism

  • Everaldo De Oliveira completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This is a course with an innovative approach and a deep reflection. With a brilliant organization and exposition of topics, we are immersed in relevant issues of our time, analyzing concepts underlying our human existence. This course is a journey guided...
  • Very intriguing and entertaining course weaving the viewer through the realms of philosophy, politics, art, literature, cinema, and music. Enjoyed the ideas and questions presented and the ways that they were. The primary purpose of this *odyssey* is to get you to think - to introspect and reflect upon your life and our world. And in that regard, it succeeds entirely.
  • Donny Astor

    Donny Astor completed this course.

    I finished the course HOPE, offered by Princeton (Edx). I completed 30 other MOOC before taking this one. This was the Captsone of the previous 30 MOOC. The title of the course itself draws you in like a magnet. It has 2 Names ! 1.) HOPE. 2.) Human...
  • Maria Ortiz completed this course.

    This course HOPE: Human Odyssey To Political Existentialism has ignited my interest in philosophy and political science. It has lead a path to self-discovery as well. Existentialism is finding meaning and purpose in this imperfect world. It is a philosophical...
  • So much material to read and consider. I feel like I have a better understanding of humanity and life after considering the works of some of the greatest thinkers of all time!

    The final chapter, Hope, was particularly relevant to me as we studied the picture of Hope and heard the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. it is true that life and people bring disappointment which can be very hard to live with, and that hope and fear are two sides of the same coin. Yet it is hope that keeps us alive, working towards doing good.
  • Sorcha Crowley

    Sorcha Crowley is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course is one of the richest and most thought-provoking courses I've taken. It combines philosophy, arts and politics to challenge our notions on a variety of topics ranging from identity, love, hope to alienation, death, god and many more. The underlying...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    first ı started this course ı dont except too much thing. ı am at the carantine and ı was trying to find something to improve my english and adds me anything about being a human cause ı think especially in that time of the world we have to recall what...
  • Denis OSullivan is taking this course right now.

    Absolutely outstanding! I have taken many many courses, both online and in class, this is one of the best, most provocative, most interesting, most insightful. Uriel is a fantastic lecturer and teacher, but more than that, he has clearly spend a huge...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    No doubt it won the number one course. This course is amazing. It gave me lots of "wow" moments. The combination between music, art, poetry, science and philosophy was enriching , powerful and pleasurable. some anecdotes... - when Tori Amos came with...
  • Exhilarating to say the least, this course will put you in the driver seat of your own destiny in search of the years of your studies and contemplations in asking that existential question: who am I, what am I, and why am I hear to say the few, but there are many more meanings to ask and answer, in the Hope, that everyone who talks the course will discover a meaning about there self, knowing and not having to make the statement: IS THAT ALL THERE IS TO MY EXISTENCE? and with that Good Luck. Virgil. ICT_TA-53.
  • Profile image for David Venegas
    David Venegas
    I sincerely believe this course deserves a 5 star rating. The amount of knowledge you can gather from it is impressive, not only from historical events or philosophy but from yourself as well. The connections made between words said by influential people throughout the ages is smoothly put together and easy to understand. All the lectures and readings where enjoyable for those eager to seek some new knowledge, even if you already know about some of the topics discussed. I truly recommend this course.
  • Anonymous
    This course was spectacular. Not only did it allow me to gain an in-depth understanding of how politics is interconnected with a variety of different concepts, including love and religion, the content was also presented in a very engaging and interacting format. The lectures were short but concise, with a very handy transcript and the quizzes allowed you to review your knowledge. I admired the self-paced study of this course as it allowed me to work at my own speed, and the discussion forums were also a very reciprocative way of being part of a community and sharing interests with one another. Thank you for this amazing course; I thoroughly enjoyed it!
  • Anonymous
    I was very pleasantly surprised by this course. Having engaged with remote learning in the past, I seldom found myself very excited by the platform. Not the case here!

    The lectures are very thoughtful. Hats off to Professor Uriel Abulof for weaving such an interesting narrative with thoughfully curated video clips, songs and art. I am sad to see the end of the course. I found each lecture to be stimulating and thought provoking. I feel energized to approach the world and tackle issues that I have been avoiding. Overall, I found that this course was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
  • Anonymous
    I beleive this course promotes a healthy exploration of alternative thoughts and conclusions as to the every day fundamental questions that run our lives. People often get lost in society, learning, life and its routine, taking things for granted and sometimes take such things for granted without stopping to think. The course, however daunting, getting one to ask questions that seemingly have no answer, can provide a new method to think if the viewer disagrees with the conclusions or may garner new followers but one thing is for sure, coming in with an open mind wont leave you upset.
  • Anonymous
    This course is a masterclass at... Hope. Surprising, I suppose. But in all fairness, most of us don't think about it too often - and here, we get some amazing insight into philosophy, despair, freedom, religion and love. Personally, this resonated with me profoundly - and suited my reading preferences well. Very much recommended.
  • Anonymous
    Uriel Abulof's mastery in discoursing about human nature and how important hope is for the construction of our individual and collective identities as we search for the meaning of life is admirable. Furthermore, his lectures are supported by the use of breathtaking artistic material (carefully curated paintings, songs, texts, poems and more) that are deeply inspirational. I hope this course will remain available to the general public for a long time, so that the community of “hopefuls” can grow strongly and manifest itself in the political arenas across the world.
  • Anonymous
    I really did enjoy taking this course. I wanted to learn more about how other people see things, how they see the world. I felt that surely the way I see things are not the only way of living and believing in it. So, it really did help me expand my way of thinking and viewing things. There were so many interesting literature pieces and films that I truly enjoyed dissecting. I had so much fun taking this course, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to experience it! Thank you so much!!
  • Anonymous
    This class has been a wonderful and heartfelt experience in learning. Not only can I say I truly explored these various philosophical concepts, but I will also add that the nature of the presentation of the material made me feel really connected throughout the whole process. What I am trying to say is that I enjoyed the class, and I consider it innovative in a very positive way -- I truly believe that anyone taking it is actually encouraged to think deeper and learn more. Good job guys!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Wow. HOPE was such a meaningful and informative course. I am a literature and philosophy student, and this course brought the two together (with the added bonus of political thought and current events). Uriel is an engaging teacher, and each video is filled with beautiful artwork, imagery, clips, and songs, which really help bring the lesson to life (and keep me engaged). The quizzes felt so easy, because I was effortlessly picking up information. It felt like a personal, meaningful documentary series; something I would even watch during my free time (if I had any).
    Highly recommended.
  • Anonymous
    אם לסכם במילה אחת את הקורס, הנאה.

    קצת מוזר להשתמש במילה הנאה המשמשת ביום יום בעיקר לתיאור חווית פיזיות מענגות, בייחוד שהקורס עוסק בשאלות הקיומיות והעמוקות של הנפש, חופר ואפילו מכאיב בלי רחמים, ומכריח אותנו .להתייצב מול השאלות הגדולות של חיינו ולהישיר להן מבט

    אך דווקא משום כך אני מסכם את הקורס במילה הנאה, מכיוון שבסופו הרגשתי כמו אחרי ריצה קשה ומתישה, השרירים כואבים והלב דופק בפראות, אך תחושת הסיפוק של העמידה באתגר מסיבה הנאה מעין רוחנית.

    ככה הרגשתי בסוף הקורס, שעמדתי במשימה קשה שדחיתי אותה שנים רבות מפחד לעסוק בה, אבל הצלחתי לה ואני מרגיש במקום טוב יותר. כמובן שאצטרך להמשיך ולהעמיק חקר, אבל את מסע אלף הצעדים כבר התחלתי, וכולי תקווה שהוא לעולם לא ייפסק.

    תודה על חוויה מופלאה

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