Humanism at the Crossroads: Looking Back at AHACON23 Peter Bjork

Crossroads and Collective Futures, the 82nd Annual Conference of the American Humanist Association (AHA), is now part of history. This momentous occasion holds an even deeper significance as it marks our first in-person event in three years, following the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic. The AHA extends its heartfelt gratitude to all who joined us either in person or online. Your presence and support made this event a resounding success, and we hope that it was a valuable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Over the course of the conference, we embarked on a remarkable journey of thought-provoking discussions, attended enlightening workshops and lectures, and had the privilege of hearing from our inspiring awardees: Michael E. Mann, Stephon Alexander, and David Breeden. The passion and dedication displayed by our diverse community as we explored the values of humanism, fostered the growth of our movement, and worked towards a more just, equitable, and compassionate society was truly invigorating.

Exhibitors in the conference hall in Denver, CO (photo by Audrey Kindred)

From the very first words of our inspiring opening speaker, who shed light on the intersection of humanism and social justice, to panel discussions on humanist service projects across the country, to anti-racism discussions, to fighting white Christian nationalism, to breakout sessions on issues like how to grow your local group and teaching climate change, to high energy and poignant musical performances—the Conference had something for everyone and encompassed many different humanist issues.

Our esteemed awardees gave captivating talks that ranged from a sobering and yet somehow hopeful analysis of the climate situation from climatologist Michael Mann, fascinating physics and storytelling from a Bronx childhood by cosmologist Stephon Alexander, and reminiscences on a career dedicated to humanism that is still going strong from David Breeden.

We would be remiss if we didn’t express our deepest appreciation to all our exceptional speakers and awardees. Your contributions have left an indelible impact, and we eagerly look forward to further collaborations in the future.

Isaac Asimov Science Awardee Dr. Stephon Alexander plays a saxophone during his acceptance speech (photo by Audrey Kindred)

Last, but certainly not least, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our incredible staff, dedicated volunteers, and generous sponsors, whose hard work and dedication helped make this conference a reality. Without your support, we would not have been able to create such a meaningful and impactful event.

Here’s what some of our attendees had to say:

“The speakers were excellent. I loved the free lunches. I appreciated your commitment to accessibility.”

“Loved the breakout sessions, and the variety of booths in the hall.”

“I liked making connections with humans that I felt comfortable around, making new friends.”

“The speakers were enlightening and entertaining as well as inspiring.”

“I liked being in person again. Staff made presenters and participants feel welcome and included.”

“Lots of friendly people. Glad to see more younger folks.”

“I learned so much and felt re-energized about living my humanist values every day.”

“I like that you can attend virtually.”

“I liked the overall tone and enthusiasm for Humanist Values plus the definite idea that humanism is so much more than non-theism or atheism.”

Lindsey Wilson, Jé Hooper, and Dr. Nori Rost speak during the Ethics Unplugged session (photo by Sarah LaReau)

The American Humanist Association is now poised to build upon the knowledge gained from AHACON23, and we hope you are too. As we expressed many times at the conference, the AHA and the humanist community are at a Crossroads, and we’re that much closer to creating a vibrant Collective Future. Our event was designed to help us envision what this future entails. And we did just that. Our movement has work to do, and I hope you will be with us as we move forward. We are motivated to create a movement that is welcoming and inclusive to all.

If you weren’t able to attend the Conference—or if you did attend and want to revisit some of your favorite sessions—stay tuned for recordings of the plenary sessions, which will be available soon.

We cherished the opportunity to be together in person once again. And we hope you’ll join us next year for the 83rd Annual Conference. We’ll be in touch soon with details. Until then, let us carry the spirit of AHACON23 within us as we forge ahead, united in our quest to shape a better world.

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Let us carry the spirit of AHACON23 within us as we forge ahead, united in our quest to shape a better world.
The post Humanism at the Crossroads: Looking Back at AHACON23 appeared first on