Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


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

Related Courses


4.9 rating, based on 224 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...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 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...
  • 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...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The structure of this course is innovative and very appealing, incorporating so much artwork and music videos. You could even say that the music videos are the foundation of the course. It is quite a bit of work. Each lesson takes 2-3 hours. The...
  • Dave Rawlings completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    In some ways this MOOC is more of a personal journey than the traditional learning vehicle. It certainly made me think more about philosophical issues than any other course and in a more personal and immediate way. Because of this it could be fairly challenging,...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Who could imagine existentialism could be so groovy?! Pardon the expression, but my age obliges. I read a couple of existentialist books when I was young, which is probably when most people do, but then forgot much about them, and about what brought me to them. You know, life. Then I came across this course, and it made me nostalgic for those days, regret that I somehow let them pass, but so happy to get this reminder. I watched religiously the Professor's lectures (he looks too young to be professor, too old to still think about these questions!), but only occasionally visited other activities, and they all look fun. Take a couple of lessons and see for yourself - if you're still young at heart, you'll love it!
  • 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.
  • Profile image for Angie Ryan
    Angie Ryan

    Angie Ryan completed this course, spending 11 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    This was an incredible class! I learned so much on a topic that I knew very little about but has pushed me to continue to learn more about. There were so many levels to it that did not see coming- art, music, literature in addition to the philosophy that I knew would be the main topic. I loved trying to guess what the outsong would be at the end of each lecture, I only got one right, but they were all songs that I knew. I have also restocked my reading list with many novels from the class. Thanmk you so much for a wonderful ride!
  • 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

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is my first online course, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I really enjoyed it. It’s demanding, but not too much, and very rewarding. It’s a very smart course, full of ideas, and some surprises. The lectures are very engaging, I liked the music, and there’s a lot going on in the gallery. I spent there about 2-3 hours a week, and don’t regret it for a minute. If you’re interested in people and politics, you’d love it.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    It is a perfect way to keep learning, honestly, I never thought I was going to take an online course, but I decided to take it for these quarantine days considering the virus COVID-19, I do not regret taking so a nice a well design course that helped me keep learning new stuff and principally in the studies I am leaned to. It is awesome to know that universities and platforms are putting real interest in people's education.

    Always keep learning!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I have just finished the course, not only it has met but has exceeded my expectations.
    A fascinating journey through timeless, universal ideas and how they suprisingly relate to modern politics and art. Congratulations to professor Uriel for menaging to squeeze so much meaning in such brief time. Highly recommended to anyone who wonders, why breath, why breed, why bleed.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This class is engaging on many levels. Professor Uriel Abulof brilliant use of music, art, and movies to help enforce the lesson ideas and concepts gave this class a great level of depth and changed the way I view art and how I plan to incorporate it more in my teaching.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Essential for anyone. People need to know these things. The public needs to educate themselves. Stunning ideas and insight, alongside fascinating Art, poetry and beautiful music. This course surpassed all my expectations by astronomical amounts. Thank you very much, it has been a pleasure!

Never Stop Learning!

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Sign up for free