The Economics of Utopia

My senior “thesis”, such that it was (Penn didn’t require a final paper) was written for a course in Comparative Literature called “The Utopian Imagination.” It was a survey of utopianism from St. Thomas More http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2130to cargo cults. My undergrad major was Economics, so I pondered “how were resources considered in utopian literature?” Through that lens, it was interesting to see how much concern there was for allocation of resources (with the underlying concern for optimizing the net social good, meaning the good of all, as that’s the definition of Utopia, in its most distilled form.)

I’ve been pondering our co-learning efforts against the background of professional development efforts thinking about behavioral and performance optimizations along gradients and wavefronts. Somehow it hit me that was on about the same topic as my putative thesis, all those years ago. One cut through what we’re doing, I’ll asset, is developing a fleshed-out framework for nudging humanity toward something resembling utopian ideals.

I’m not judging this, and I’m sure the effort to write a book of more fleshed-out thesis is in the offing from this. Maybe a background in the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dismal_science isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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