Penn State

Lynette M. Kvasny - associate professor of information sciences and technology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

Author: Barack Obama

Book Description:

The Audacity of Hope is a New York Times Best Seller and a Grammy Award winning book that can be read in two ways. First, the book expands upon Barack Obama's political positions on a host of issues including national security, healthcare, the economy, and education. This is required reading for students seeking to learn more about the 2008 Democratic candidate for the American presidency.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the book puts forth Obama's core value—the audacity of hope. It is a call for people to risk being optimistic in the face of pressing issues such as global warming, war, rising fuel costs, unemployment and economic insecurity. It is a vision for what could be if we take on the difficult challenges that we face as a nation. In his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, Obama states "I'm not talking about blind optimism here—the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!"

A Penn State education should inspire optimism. However, the audacity of hope also requires the audacity of action. This action results from the acquisition of knowledge that informs good decision making and engagement in actions that change our politics and our civic life.

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