Humanist News, July-issue 2002
Taking the course of Reason
For some time, Europe has led the way in providing opportunities
for accredited academic studies in skepticism, humanism,
For instance, in the Netherlands, the University for Humanist
Studies at Utrecht offers a six-year interdisciplinary advanced
degree program with specialisations in research, policy,
education, and counseling. Founded in 1989, the University
is recognised and subsidised by the Dutch Ministry of Education
and enrolls over 300 students.
At the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, the Perrott-Warrick
Research Unit conducts critical, empirical investigation
into parapsychological phenomena and sponsors pioneering
participatory experiments that have reached over 18 million
people through the British mass media.
Education in US
Some rationalist organisations in North America have also
developed educa-tional programs. The North American Committee
for Humanism was formed in 1982 to establish The Humanist
Institute, which was dedicated to leadership training for
those involved in organised humanism. Since 1989, the Center
for Inquiry Institute has sponsored seminars and workshops
in critical inquiry, skepticism, and humanism, including Skeptic's
Toolbox, a teamtaught workshop in hands-on skeptical investigation
held each summer at the University of Oregon.
have been quite successful, these programs did not offer an
accredited degree or credit towards such a degree, and they
attracted few 'traditional-age' students. At the same time,
English-speaking academic disciplines such as philosophy and
religious studies, which had been dominated by the naturalistic
worldview throughout the first half of the twentieth century,
have seen the return of self-confident and intellectually
respectable non-naturalism and theism in the last twenty-five
years. Courses and institutes on spirituality and untested
alternative medicine proliferate at mainstream medical schools
The launch of a summer schoolprogramme
In December 2001 the Center for Inquiry Institute announced
a dramatic consolidation and expansion of its efforts: the
launch of a two-week summer school with courses available
for transferable college credit through the State University
of New York system.
courses, seminars, assistantships, and recreational activities
are held in and around the Center for Inquiry main campus
in Amherst, New York, taking full advantage of its staff,
classrooms, computing facilities, and 34,000-plus volume libraries,
as well as its proximity to the University at Buffalo and
Upstate New York attractions.
are being attracted through the Campus Freethought Alliance
and other student networks maintained by the Center, and exchange
programs with Chinese and Russian institutions are being arranged.
Undergraduate students may apply for assistantships that include
partial or full tuition waivers.
Together with the Skeptic's Toolbox workshop, this main summer
session establishes a permanent, annual academic calendar
for the Institute, made possible by the recent establishment
of a specially dedicated one million dollar endowment.
Organisers see the new summer school as an important step
towards the creation of a North American degree program in
critical inquiry and naturalism. Past students of the Institute
have gone on to work at The American Prospect magazine, About.com,
Council for Secular Humanism, Skeptical Inquirer, the International
Humanist and Ethical Union, and elsewhere. Others have participated
for personal enrichment or to inform their community activism.
students may attend Institute offerings to earn credit toward
degrees at their home institutions.
America has long needed a permanent home for academically
rigorous training in critical rational inquiry and philosophical
naturalism," commented Institute president Dr. Paul
Kurtz. "Thanks to the commitment of our many loyal
students, friends, and supporters, we can now say that the
Center for Inquiry is that home."
2002 Summer Session
The 2002 main summer session runs July 14-28, and comprises
Introduction to Critical Inquiry (logic, critical thinking,
and scientific reasoning)
and History and Philosophy of Naturalism, along with guest
lectures, presentations, and guided cultural tours to Upstate
New York sites of historic importance to skepticism and freethought.
Students who cannot attend the full session may register for
one or both weekend seminars (July 19-20 and July 26-27),
which include a special guest presentation on Friday evening,
an all-day guided cultural tour on Saturday, and a Saturday
and lecturers for summer 2002 include:
Altschuler, Professor of American Studies at Cornell University
and coauthor of 'Revivalism, Social Conscience and
Community in the Burned-Over District: The Trial of Rhoda
Bement' (Cornell 1983);
Capaldi, a professor in the departments of philosophy
and law at The University of Tulsa, former editor of Public
Affairs Quarterly, and author of 'The Art of Deception:
An Introduction to Critical Thinking'
(Prometheus Books 1987);
Downey, founder and director of the Anti-Discrimination
Support Network and invited representative at United Nations
conferences on freedom of conscience;
Hull, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University at
Buffalo and executive director of The Texas Council for
Kohl, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, City University
York; author of 'The Morality of Killing' (Humanities
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University at Buffalo;
Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific
Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal;
Roesch Wagner, lecturer and historian seen on the Ken
Burns documentary, 'Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story
of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.'
To obtain an application
or more information, visit www.centerforinquiry.net
or contact Center for Inquiry Institute, PO Box 741, Amherst,
New York 14226, USA, tel: 716-636-4869 x223, fax: 716-636-1733,
Austin Dacey is director of the Center for Inquiry Institute
and executive editor of Philo, an academic journal of philosophical