SeminarsPast Seminars

Working group seminars

Working groups arrange seminars to share and stimulate efforts to engage discourses in particular professional and academic fields from a Baháʼí perspective. This page provides an overview of the working groups seminars supported by ABS in recent years. See more under upcoming and recent seminars.

Propaganda

Thematic conference seminar

Ottawa, Canada
7-8 August 2019

This seminar brought together 20 students and faculty across diverse disciplines to examine the phenomenon of propaganda. Participants studied texts from influential scholars in the field, watched documentaries on the topic, analyzed those texts and documentaries through the lens of the Baháʼí conceptual framework, and identified principles that can distinguish propaganda from communication that contributes to the betterment of humanity. Focus questions included: How can we understand the nature of propaganda, and the forces behind it, to protect ourselves, our communities, and our institutions from its influence? How can we contribute to the discourses of society in ways that are free from propaganda? How might communication media be restructured so they are less vulnerable to propaganda and more supportive of consultative public discourse? How can we contribute to the evolution of thought, in the professional and academic spaces we work in, along all three of the lines above?

The Baháʼí Faith and Liberalism

Thematic conference seminar

Ottawa, Canada
7-8 August 2019

This seminar brought together 25 students and faculty in social sciences. It began with a consideration of Baháʼí approach and methodology, and then explored the elements of liberalism as a tradition of thought, and its implications for Baháʼís conducting research. Questions considered included: How can the idea of an evolving conceptual framework assist in understanding and interrogating the intellectual tradition of liberalism? Why is it relevant for Baháʼís engaged in academic and professional discourses to consider the intellectual history, assumptions, and central concepts of liberalism? What implications does Baha’u’llah’s Revelation hold for how to think about the insights and deficiencies of liberal thought? How might the Baháʼí framework resolve various conceptual tensions that emerge from the liberal tradition? Does the experience of the Baháʼís and their friends in community building provide relevant material to draw on making contributions to the discourse on liberalism?

Business

Regional working group seminar

New York City, USA
22-23 February 2020

Participants in business and related fields were drawn mostly from the northeast of the continent. The program included a workshop on participation in professional and academic discourses; study and consultation on a Baháʼí perspective on business and commerce; reflections on discourses on corporate purpose and corporate social responsibility; examples of efforts to engage with specific discourses; and time for consulting about potential collaborative initiatives.

Economies

December 14-16, 2018
Green Acre Baháʼí School, Maine, USA
Attendance: 12

Several small groups shared their work from the previous year, and individuals presented research. Overarching questions for the seminar were: (1) How did the human race create our current market economy, which produces extremes of wealth and poverty as it simultaneously generates high levels of aggregate material wealth? (2) How are communities economic actors?

Questioning Econ101

January 16-18
Virtual Seminar

This seminar, primarily for college and university students, examined assumptions in introductory economics in relation to the principles of the Baha'i Faith. The group read and consulted about a document prepared as a project within the ABS economies working group in an open and collaborative environment. This seminar was the second meeting of its kind and welcomed both new and returning participants.

Education

29 March - 1 April, 2019
Toronto, Canada
Attendance: 43

The focus was on local efforts in Ontario. Questions were explored related to the coherence between the community building process, social action and participation in discourses in Education.

Health

February 2-3, 2019
Bosch Baháʼí School, California, USA
Attendance: 20

The theme of the seminar was integrating material and spiritual perspectives in healthcare. Study focused on the relationship between science and religion. Thematic workshops were held on Re-evaluating the ‘Wellness’ Discourse; Aging and Dying in Society; and Exploring Race in Medicine.

April 12-14, 2019
Green Acre Baháʼí School, Maine, USA
Attendance: 67

The seminar built around sharing and reflecting on the collaborative initiatives that had been pursued within the working group in the preceding year.

February 1-4, 2018
Louhelen Bahá’í School, Michigan, USA
Attendance: 27

Activities included study of guidance, presentations, plenary sessions on challenging discourses, and smaller group sessions within thematic areas.

April 7-9, 2017
Bosch Bahá’í School, California, USA
Attendance: 30

Content included refugee/immigrant health, patient-centered care, aboriginal health and resilience

Law

February 22-25, 2019
Vancouver Center of Learning
Attendance: 32

Participants completed pre readings and discussion within the seminar in an on-going study about engaging in discourses in law. Individuals and groups shared experiences of such engagement. Time was given to planning both small-group projects and a schedule of bi-weekly activities for the working group as a whole.

February 9-11, 2018
Bosch Bahá’í School, California, USA
Attendance: 28

Activities included presentations, sharing of experiences, reflection and planning about contributing to discourses in law.

May 11-14, 2017
Bosch Bahá’í School, California, USA
Attendance: 16

Activities included the study of guidance, group study material within the discourse and Baháʼí-inspired content, and sharing of experiences and consultation about contributing to discourse.

Media and Society

February 15-18, 2019
Bosch Baháʼí School, California, USA
Attendance: 70

The program included sessions to introduce those new to the conversation to the nature and purpose of the effort, to allow those who had relevant work to share it, and to create conversations that could inspire further efforts. Three sub-groups within media held streams: film/video, literature/narrative, and journalism.

February 16-19, 2018
Green Acre Bahá’í School, Maine, USA
Attendance: 59

The themes of commercialization and its alternatives, and representation and identity were explored. Subgroups addressed topics in film, journalism and literature.

Media, Technology and Society

April 14-16, 2017
Green Acre Bahá’í School, Maine, USA
Attendance: 53

Content included discussion of media industries; the role of journalism and film in society; technology and individual and collective agency; globalization, inclusive technology and the digital revolution; the relationship between journalism and social media; media and truth; and other topics.

Religion and Society

April 21-23, 2017
Louhelen Bahá’í School, Michigan, USA
Attendance: 17

Content included study of One Common Faith, post-secularist discourse, and consultation on contributing to the discourse on religion.

Technology and Society

February 10-11, 2018
Vancouver Bahá’í Centre, Canada
Attendance: 35

Presentations explored technology and values as they related to youth and to community decision making.

Thematic seminars

ABS is beginning to learn about holding seminars focused on salient questions, often taking an interdisciplinary approach. See more under “Current and recent seminars” [link].

Methodologies in Academic Research

Toronto, Ontario
18-19 May 2019

With a view to addressing the question of methodology in academic research, as discussed in the Universal House of Justice letter of 24 July 2013, the ABS Executive Committee along with a collaborator organized a two-day seminar for 25 graduate students and faculty to come together to explore the question of methodology within their respective fields and to discuss the implications of the Revelation for this facet of scholarship. Participants, organized in disciplinary groups, held conference calls in advance of the seminar to discuss assigned pre-readings and related questions concerning the harmony of science and religion, the limits of objectivity, the nature of knowledge, the implications of materialism for various fields, and the qualities and attitudes they want to adopt when participating in the generation of knowledge. Participants made plans for next steps within their disciplinary groups and prepared brief summary documents to capture the insights that emerged in the course of the small-group and plenary consultations.

Virtual seminar

13-14 June 2020

Building on efforts in the 2019 Seminar regarding methodology, this seminar brought together 50 graduate students and faculty in Africana studies, education, social sciences, economics, natural sciences, engineering, and religious studies. Leading up to the seminar, disciplinary groups took part in two virtual discussions: the first addressing foundational Baháʼí texts and articles exploring questions of methodology; the second focused on discipline-specific articles. The culminating two-day seminar program included: insights from the disciplinary pre-calls; a plenary presentation questioning criticism as an element of methodology across fields; discussions about critique in interdisciplinary groups; and discussions in disciplinary groups to plan next steps for collaborative writing and research.

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