Our Future: Glimpses of Our Past and Possible Futures – Challenges and Opportunities

Course Description:  William Shakespeare wrote, “What’s past is prologue.” Futurist Arthur C. Clarke wrote, “The one fact about the future of which we can be certain is that it will be absolutely fantastic.” To begin to discern our possible future, we need to try to understand our past. Of course, as one speculates about our future, as Clarke implies, we need to first acknowledge it is unknowable with specificity or certainty even as its “fantastic” possibilities may be glimpsed. This four-session short course’s purpose is to have some intellectual fun with insightful glimpses into the past, present, and mainly possible futures: first back billions of years; then to today’s technological society that happened in the cosmological blink of an eye. We’ll examine humanity’s current challenges – possible “filters” or hurdles to overcome to realize humanity’s potential – review predictions, and consider three aspects of our future possibilities: logical probable extrapolation, civilization or existential challenging, and far-reaching poetically inspiring.  (Discussion is encouraged, social distancing and masks are required.)

Instructor:  Richard A. Scribner has a PhD in physics and, among other academic appointments, headed the Science, Technology, and International Affairs program at Georgetown University. Other positions included:  Special Assistant., Undersecretary of State; Director  of a counterterrorism research institute at Dartmouth; and Consultant, Justice & Homeland Security Depts. He’s the author or coauthor of books and articles on arms control, science and public policy, and climate change. Fathoming what the future might hold is a hobby.

Course Length: Four Sessions: Thursdays: May 20, 27, and June 3, 10; 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Course Location: St Peters Church, 801 Atlantic Avenue, Room 202

Class Fee: $ 20.  No materials required.  Instructor will provide handouts and electronic links.