Looking Ahead to Fall Education Programs

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Each season brings new opportunities to learn and grow with programs from the American Humanist Association Center for Education. For Fall 2021, we’re exploring the many ways humanists can reimagine and work towards a better future for all. Check out our offerings for September, October, and November.


The next quarterly Humanist Society teleconference will be Thursday, September 16, 6-7:30 pm ET with Dennis Augustine sharing on “The Heart of Humanity: Humanism in Interfaith Settings.” (If you’re interested in attending, please email info@thehumanistsociety.org for Zoom details). Humanist celebrants and chaplains often find themselves working in settings where nontheists are the minority and largely misunderstood. In this session, Augustine will provide tips for explaining humanism and how we can be sensitive to other’s religious beliefs and practices while maintaining our professional integrity as humanists. Dennis Augustine is a former evangelical minister who now identifies as an atheist and a humanist. Today, he’s a tech entrepreneur three times over and a board member of the Clergy Project, a private forum consisting of over a thousand past and current clergy with no supernatural beliefs.

On Thursday, September 23, 6:30-8 pm ET, Speaking of Humanism (a free Zoom talk series) offers “Creating a Caring Economy” with Riane Eisler, 1996 winner of AHA’s Humanist Pioneer Award. The argument of capitalism versus socialism fails to recognize that both are rooted in systems that devalue the work of care in both the formal and informal economic sectors. Instead, the speaker advocates for an economic system that supports mutual respect, non-violence, equality, empowerment, and caring. Partnerism focuses on promoting human rights and nonviolence, gender and racial equity, child development, and new metrics that demonstrate the enormous economic contribution of caring for people, starting at birth, and caring for our natural life support systems. Eisler, JD, Ph.D. (hon), is president of the Center for Partnership Systems (CPS) and Editor-in-Chief of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of numerous books, including Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives and Future (Oxford University Press, 2019), and The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics.


The Humanist Society will host an online training on “Performing Ceremonies and Celebrating Life’s Milestones” with HS President Kathy Diedrich on Saturday, October 9 and Sunday, October 10, 1-4 pm ET each day (registration is $50 for one day or $85 for the whole weekend). Learn how to facilitate weddings, end-of-life ceremonies, memorials, child welcomings, coming of age ceremonies, transition/renaming celebrations, and other milestones. All are welcome to attend but you will need to be endorsed by the Humanist Society, or another endorsing body, to officially become a humanist celebrant that can perform these ceremonies. Diedrich has been an endorsed Humanist Celebrant since 2009, and has officiated at over 450 ceremonies with her active celebrant practice, Minnesota Life Celebrations (www.mnlifecelebrations.com). She studied at the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, earning certificates in Weddings, Funerals, and Memorials, and Ceremonies Across the Lifecycle.

Neuroscientist Mark Reimers is teaching another round of Critical Minds and Further Reflection events. On Tuesday, October 12, 7-8:30 pm ET his Critical Minds (a free Zoom talk series) on “Science and the Future of Humanism” will review how investigations of life sciences and human nature may enrich and shape humanism in this century. He’ll expand on this concept with a five-part Further Reflection course on “Enlightened Brain: Neuroscience of Everyday Life” (registration is $125 for the whole package) that runs Tuesdays, October 19 to November 16, 7-8:30 pm ET. Here, we’ll explore what recent discoveries in neuroscience mean for understanding how our minds work, and how such knowledge can help us live with ourselves and others more easily. Reimers has worked at the US National Institutes of Health, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond, and now does research and teaches at Michigan State University. He was the leader of the Richmond Humanists in Virginia for five years, and now leads the UU Forum in Lansing, and speaks frequently at humanist and science outreach events in Michigan.

On Wednesday, October 27, 6:30-8 pm ET, our Speaking of Humanism will be on “Representation Matters: Secular Elected Officials Speak Out.” Whether it’s running for office, engaging with candidates and elected officials, or getting active in party politics, you can support the mission of the Association of Secular Elected Officials (ASEO) and help grow the network of secular people elected to office and the constituents supporting them. Hear from ASEO Board Members Danny Choriki, Sherry Dutzy, and Kristiana de Leon, as well as Ron Millar of Center for Freethought Equality and Sarah Levin of Secular Strategies, on how to increase our representation at all levels of government to eliminate the stigma of being openly nontheist and make sure we have a seat at the table to impact policy and voice our concerns.


Author Mark Robert Rank will join us for a Critical Minds event on Tuesday, November 16, 6:30-8 pm ET about “Debunking Myths about Poverty in America.” Few topics have as many myths, stereotypes, and misperceptions surrounding them as that of poverty in America. The poor have been badly misunderstood since the beginnings of the country, with harmful rhetoric intensifying in recent times. Our current era of fake news, alternative facts, and media partisanship has led to a breeding ground for all types of myths which have been gaining traction and legitimacy. In this talk, Rank will debunk many of the most common myths surrounding poverty and inequality based upon the research in his latest book, Poorly Understood: What America Gets Wrong about Poverty. Rank is currently the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on issues of poverty, inequality, and social justice. He has been the recipient of many awards, and his research has been reported in a wide range of media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and National Public Radio.