The Humanist Community at Harvard – Sharing Our Vision, Everywhere

Most of you will know I work for the Humanist Community at Harvard as their Research and Education Fellow. We’re a community-building non-profit in Cambridge, MA which runs a community center for Harvard undergraduates, grad students, alumni, and the Boston population. We have weekly small group discussion meetings, social events, and public Sunday platforms where we invite speakers to talk on important social and personal issues from a Humanist perspective. We organize service projects and interfaith outreach efforts, trying to ensure that our Humanism is more than just a philosophy, but is a way of life. And we run the Humanist Community Project (now in partnership with the American Humanist Association) to research and provide resources for the growing number of nonreligious values-based communities in the USA.

What some don’t realize is that we are also dedicated to promoting Humanism as a worldview and to ensuring the end of discrimination against nonreligious people. We want to ensure that Humanism is recognized as an ethical and philosophical tradition with just as much to say about how to live our lives as any religion. Our vision statement makes this clear:

Globally:

Humanist groups gathering anywhere will have a model and a stimulus for growth according to best practices.

The Humanist movement will have a network of high-functioning local organizations that will generate new members, advocates, and supporters for national organizations such as the American Humanist Association, Secular Coalition for America, Foundation Beyond Belief, and Secular Student Alliance.

Around the world Humanism will be represented by thriving communities, bringing together people of like minds to share views and serve others. These communities will help religious and nonreligious people alike to understand that Humanism is an ancient, evolving tradition with importance equal to that of the world’s major worldview traditions.

Locally:

Where you live: There will be a community center where you can come to meet new friends, learn about Humanism, build a better world, raise a Humanist family, and be a better person.

At Harvard: Secular students at Harvard and beyond will develop as ethical, compassionate, fulfilled individuals, inspired by Humanist values and by connection with a community and movement of Humanist peers.

In the past month, our staff (and former staff!) have been spreading that vision on TV, radio, and in print; in blogathons and magazines; through music and photography; and from Cambridge to the White House. Take a look at all we’ve achieved recently (list compiled by our Outreach and Development Manager Sarah Chandonnet)!

  • CNN.com featured Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein’s thoughts on community-building for the holidays in a piece that made the site’s front page last week, while Greg’s post-election op-ed for WBUR was selected as one of their Best of 2012. Since the latter came out, Greg was invited to visit the White House and work with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Harvard professor and CNN political analyst David Gergen on “The Inclusive America Project,” based out of the Aspen Institute.
  • Meanwhile, Assistant Chaplain Chris Stedman talked secular responses to Sandy Hook on MSNBC and HCH researcher James Croft’s piece about Humanist communities for The Humanist was reprinted on The Friendly Atheist.
  • Full video is now available for the OkCupid award ceremony featuring musical guest Quiet Company. This is one of our favorite videos, so if you’re going to watch one video from our community programs for this year, make it this one.
  • Our Year in Review photo album is available now on Facebook.
  • Last week staffers Chris Stedman and Chelsea Link joined together for a 12-hour blogathon. Read all the great new pieces here.
  • A special shout-out to former Assistant Chaplain John Figdor and the Humanist Community at Stanford, who were featured on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

All that in the last month of a dying 2012! I’m proud to work with such an energetic and effective Humanist organization, and I look forward to many fruitful years of partnership ahead!

About James Croft

James Croft is the Leader in Training at the Ethical Culture Society of St. Louis - one of the largest Humanist congregations in the world. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently writing his Doctoral dissertation as a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book "The Godless Congregation", co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.


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