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The idea of this conference was born during the International Conference “Vocational designing and career counseling”, held in Padova in September 2011.  At that time several important scholars of decision making and career planning processes agreed that times characterized by marked uncertainty, such as those we are currently experiencing, require promoting individuals’ resilience against adversities, studying and teaching how to accept a delay in reinforcements and satisfactions, and transforming indecision and uncertainty into opportunities.  Such times require teaching how to influence choices of stakeholders in order to guarantee future generations living conditions filled with meaning and of high quality.  

Professionals who for research or work reasons are interested in counseling, teaching, rehabilitation, social work, and prevention, besides affirming the personal  “indignation” with the high rate of injustice and inequality in the opportunities available in the world and in our countries, are nonetheless required to continue instilling hope and optimism, helping clients and targets of their professional interventions “withstand” with creativity, intelligence and self-determination the many difficulties and barriers they encounter (Hessel, 2012). It is in such difficult situations that we need to discuss hope and resilience; this is, above all, required when, as it is the case of education and counseling, it is necessary to activate motivations, resources, and a positive attitude toward “future planning and construction”.

In this context, research may also play a significant role. In fact, although in the recent years there has been an increase in theoretical studies concerning constructs such as those in which we are here interested, there are still several complications to be solved and many actions, indeed, to be undertaken.
This conference will consider with particular attention the following questions:

  1. In many fields such as counseling, education, career guidance, rehabilitation psychotherapy, sociology, economics, philosophy, and anthropology there is an increasing debate about the nature of future, hope, optimism, and resilience.  When using such terms are all these disciplines referring to the same contents?  To what extent do operational definitions allow comparisons, debates, and multidisciplinary analyses?   
  2. Are these constructs sufficiently independent? Are there sufficient and helpful instruments to properly sustain our research hypotheses and evaluate in an adequately rigorous way the efficacy of our professional interventions?
  3.  What kind of actions can politicians, families, schools, counselors and all of us undertake in order “to speed up” hopes, energies, motivations and resources?
  4. What do we know about “sources of development” and determinants of hope, optimism, and resilience?  What is the role played by gender, age, and education? Is there a relationship between these constructs and quality of life, adaptability, future time orientation, self-efficacy, assertiveness, self-determination, empowerment, ability to delay and defer satisfaction and so on?
  5. What do we know about the impacts of sociocultural determinants?

The conference will be held in Padova, Italy in June 2013 with support from and participation of the leading international organizations in counseling and vocational psychology.  It will stimulate discussion around the questions listed above and explore what answers we can provide.  We anticipate that thorough this rich dialogue stimulating research and intervention hypotheses will be derived.

Salvatore Soresi