The World We Made illustrated the optimistic future I have been hoping for out of this class. While Pacific Edge and Ecotopia both imagine a healthier Earth, neither novel feels accessible. The modern world differs so fundamentally from the novels, especially regarding capitalism, that use of the novels as a model for the future feels irrational. The World We Made takes a different approach to the so-called “human problem”: avoidance. Jonathon Porritt likely focused on technology and natural resources in order to bring about practical optimism, however, he avoided topics key to the success of environmentalism.
The silence regarding gender in Porritt’s STEM-driven future concerns me in particular. As an electrical and computer engineering (ECE) major (with a computer science double major), I see how divided the world of STEM remains today. At Duke today, only 18% of ECE majors and 20% of computer science majors are women. This major gender disparity requires effort to balance out. Despite Porritt’s intense hope in technologies of robotics and engineering, he failed to account for the humans behind the developments. The future of environmentalism would prove much stronger with balanced gender representation in STEM fields. This would, of course, allow the brightest minds to better the planet, regardless of gender. Furthermore, more women in STEM paves the way for gender equity in the world as a whole. Studies have tied violence and conflict to gender inequality. If we hope to better the world, we must balance gender disparities. After all, it could help solve the quintessential human problem: conflict.