A little over a year ago, amid the COVID pandemic, the AHA Center for Education offered a detailed course in humanism via Zoom. Presented in four two-hour sessions spread across June 2021, it provided a solid background in the basic ideas central to humanism, the history of humanist thought, techniques of critical thinking and scientific ways of knowing, the foundations of ethics, and the how of rational living in our troubled times. Nonetheless, this course offered less than half the original content of the face-to-face sessions that had been previously conducted in rural Vermont over the span of a weeklong retreat. Promoted by Road Scholar, that fuller program had been running since 2009 and included extensive content, handouts, group intellectual exercises, videos, hands-on experiences, and outings.
Now, after a two-year pandemic hiatus, the original course—titled Exploring Humanism: A Philosophy for Living—is back this fall!
As previously, the sessions will be held at the rustic Gray Ghost Inn in the historic Green Mountains of Vermont. Carina Hellstrom, the owner, is a humanist who serves locally-grown foods at mealtimes, regales students with tales of the inn’s storied past, and leads nature walks in the surrounding countryside.
Also, as before, the instructor will be Fred Edwords, who has served the American Humanist Association for forty-five years, first as a local chapter leader and then as executive director, editor of the Humanist, and national director of the United Coalition of Reason. Following his Vermont classes, Edwords is often asked by students to present for local humanist groups and provide shorter workshops on particular lessons—a request he has worked to accommodate as much as possible.
Nature programming, featuring animals from the local area, will be provided by another humanist, Michael Clough, the managing director of the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum.
The course begins Sunday evening, October 23rd, and concludes Friday morning, October 28th, 2022. Educational sessions will be held for two hours each morning and two hours each afternoon, with optional outings during the day and special programming each evening. The main themes of each day are:
Monday: Introduction to and History of Humanism
Tuesday: Theology and Ethics
Wednesday: Critical Thinking and Science
Thursday: Social Accountability and the Art of Living
The full price is $825 per person for double occupancy or $960 for single occupancy. This price includes lodging for five nights with fourteen meals. Also included is free use of the hot tub and game room. An evening bonfire is a frequently added feature as weather permits.
Given the homey, living-room class setting, the maximum class size is twenty-four, so students are advised to register online here as soon as possible.
The course, taken as a whole, is like attending an intimate, weeklong humanist retreat, where students not only secure a deeper understanding of humanism and its application to the real world but truly get to know fellow humanists from around the country. A better feel for the course will be provided online in an interview with Fred Edwords that can be watched for free, live on September 14 from 7-8 PM Eastern Time on the AHA’s Facebook page or on Zoom here.
Explore humanist ideas, the background of the humanist movement, and current expressions of the philosophy.
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