Thursday, March 29, 2007
Harvard's 'New Humanism' conference, April 20-22.
Harvard's Humanist chaplain, the energetic Gen-Xer Greg Epstein, has pulled together quite the all-star lineup for a conference celebrating the "new Humanism," April 20-22, including novelist Salman Rushdie, singer Dar Williams, and evolution hot-shot E.O. Williams. (Notably missing from the lineup: the anti-religion triumvirate Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, even though Dennett is just up the road at Tufts.) Rushdie will be speaking at a panel on "Abrahamic Humanism" with Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of Humanistic Judaism, and Bill Murry, former president of the Unitarian Universalist Meadville Lombard Theological School. (Tiny quibble: There is such a thing as Christian Humanism, and it isn't the same as Murry's naturalistic religious humanism. Then again, I'm not sure Rushdie is necessarily an advocate of liberal or humanistic Islam. So perhaps these are really "post-Abrahamic" humanisms?) Personally, I'm also drawn to hear Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist from India whose "capabilities approach" to human well-being was one of the most exciting ideas I encountered at Harvard. I'm still hoping someone comes along to popularize that concept.
At any rate, here's the conference website: The New Humanism: A Conference Honoring 30 Years of Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, April 20-22. Registration is not too expensive for students, $129 for the rest of us.
For more on Epstein, here's an interview: "Harvard humanism: Beyond the walls of the secular cathedral" (David Niose, The Humanist, March/April 2007; PDF) — and a profile: "Godless church: Inside the humanist chaplaincy" (A. Haven Thompson, Harvard Crimson 3.8.06). For background on the chaplaincy and the oldtimer who ran it until Epstein replaced him in 2005, Thomas Ferrick: "Humanist at Harvard" (Lauren Byrne, Harvard Magazine, May/June 2005).
Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 29 March 2007 at 9:44 PM