April is the anniversary month of the American Humanist Association (AHA) and in 2021 we’re celebrating eighty years of advocating for progressive rights and equality for humanists, atheists, and freethinkers. To honor our dedication to free inquiry and lifelong learning, the AHA’s Center for Education offers humanist training to expand your knowledge of what humanism is and how it can help us live more fulfilling and ethical lives together.
Start by exploring the free Introduction to Humanism course on the AHA’s Center for Education website. It’s a self-guided journey around the world of the history of humanism (yes, beyond the Enlightenment), the foundation of our core principles, and how they both play a role in our ongoing search for a better understanding of our world. The course explains how a meaningful life can “derive from the good we do, the relationships we build, the quest for intellectual growth, the satisfaction of productive work, the enjoyment of creative or artistic pursuits, and the influence we have on our friends and society.” The course is intended to inspire you to delve deeper into the rich culture of humanism and invite others to join you.
If you’re ready for more, continue onto the next course, Humanist Activism and Organization, which is also free but requires registration. (Of course, you can check into any of the Center for Education’s other courses in the order you prefer). You’ll learn about how the modern humanist movement is organized around advocacy for humanist principles, protection for humanist rights, and increased awareness and understanding of humanism by the general public. You’ll get to know some key secular organizations such as the Secular Coalition for America, Americans United, Humanists International, and more. And our Religious Humanism course provides insight into life-passage rituals, social justice work, and community of congregational humanism. You may also find it useful to connect with local humanist groups to expand on your education into discussions and grassroots action.
For those who prefer an interactive classroom setting, former AHA Executive Director and current humanist historian Fred Edwords will be teaching a four-part Further Reflection course on Exploring Humanism in June. (Registration is currently open and will close when class is full). Explore the history and philosophy of the humanist movement and discuss how an ethical perspective based on compassion, critical thinking, and science can shed light on the important social and lifestyle issues we all face today. The series begins on Tuesday, June 8th at 7:00pm ET with an explanation of humanism and the ways it is expressed through the various organizations of the humanist movement. On June 15th you’ll follow the history with an exploration of notions of reason, logic, truth, facts, and reality, along with their uses and abuses. This will involve learning techniques of critical thinking and the workings of the philosophy of science, including the ways of observation, experimentation, and theory. The June 22nd class looks at social, economic, and political issues through a humanist lens, examining threats to our civil liberties and religious freedom as well as looking at sexism, racism, homophobia, and other attitudes of exclusion. Finally, in the last session on June 29th, you’ll explore what it means to be human, learn about creativity and the arts, acknowledge the importance of emotional lives, and pursue happiness.
Before the pandemic, Edwords taught a weeklong intensive version of this course in Vermont through Road Scholar for over a decade and the foundation of the course is connected to the Center for Education’s graduate-level Humanist Studies Program (which will return this summer). If there’s interest, we look forward to running the Exploring Humanism class on Zoom multiple times to provide a larger audiencewith the opportunity to dive into the materials and ideas.
Celebrate the AHA’s anniversary month by learning more about humanism and help us grow the humanist movement in the years to come.