As the American Humanist Association’s Center for Education celebrates its 5th birthday this year, we are also celebrating our growing partnerships within the Humanist Studies Program. For the Fall 2023 semester, the program will offer the course Humanist Worldviews: Then & Now for the third year in a row.
The core philosophy of Humanist Worldviews is there is not one single “humanism,” but many. That is the fundamental assumption of this course, which seeks to explore a number of “humanisms” which have arisen and flourished in different parts of the world and across time. Students new to humanism will garner from the course an appreciation of the core values of humanism, and how they can be discovered and applied in different ways in different cultures. Students who already have a basic understanding of humanism will deepen their appreciation of the worldview, learning how complex and various are the expressions of humanism. The intent of the course is to broaden students’ understanding of what “humanism” can mean, by examining the complexities of traditional humanist narratives and presenting lesser-known ones.
Along with this course, the Humanist Studies Program now consists of three additional courses for a four-class program that can be completed in two academic years to earn a Certificate in Humanist Studies. The full course list is:
- Humanist Worldviews: Then & Now
- Humanist Aesthetics & Practices
- Humanist Philosophies & Understandings
- Humanist Leadership
AHA Education Director Kristin Wintermute offered a wonderful history of how this format for the Humanist Studies Program was developed. Within the many changes to the graduate-level curriculum there has been a constant interest in offering a program that meets the needs of students in today’s world and in today’s job market.
Those interested in paid employment as a Humanist Professional can obtain an accredited master’s degree with a named concentration in Humanism. Those who are interested in ongoing professional development without the need for a formal credential can take individual courses. The program intentionally provides multiple paths.
Personally, I’ve had a unique relationship with this program and have experienced it in many ways over the past fourteen years. In 2009, I began my own studies in what was then known as The Humanist Institute and traveled three times a year to New York City or Washington, DC to learn in person with a cohort of participants over a three-year period. I took what I learned from that program into my seminary education and ultimately became a Unitarian Universalist Minister & Humanist Celebrant. Alongside my educational journey, I became employed by The Humanist Institute, helping to market the program and recruit future cohorts of students. Eventually I left formal employment for congregational ministry, but continued my relationship as adjunct faculty for multiple classes as well as offering officiant training for the Humanist Celebrant program. Today, I’m excited to be part of a teaching team that includes people from across the US along with students and speakers from multiple countries.
So when I say that this program has impacted the trajectory of my life in profound ways, I’m not being hyperbolic. I can also share that my story is not the only one to demonstrate the impact of these courses. Many of my friends and colleagues today have connections to learning and teaching within the Humanist Studies Program. Our alums have found many ways to apply what they learned to the larger humanist movement and many have made it their profession as well.
To ensure that this higher education course is accessible to everyone, there are scholarships available.
Whether you are interested in humanism as a vocation, a personal worldview, a group of like-minded people to belong to, or all three, this course is one path to deepen your understanding of the many ways nontheists, humanists, atheists, agnostics, and the many other names we have for ourselves form community, train leaders, and pass on our stories.