Wilmette Institute Course Catalog
Spring 2022 - Fall 2023
Table of Contents
Welcome to the Wilmette Institute! Since 1995 we have been providing education about the Bahá'í Faith’s history, texts, and tenets, and particularly about its teachings to bring about social transformation. Our thousands of students have used their learning for the good of all humanity, carrying out thought-provoking conversations with friends and family, completing transformative public art projects, raising up illumined children, inspiring social change efforts by youth, becoming involved in public discourse about important social issues, and acting locally in their neighborhoods to bring about lasting change.
In this time, we have created over one hundred online courses for our extension program, offered over six hundred times. We now have ten courses ready or in preparation for credit that are available to graduate students at two institutions of higher education, and the search for additional partnerships is ongoing. Two certificates at the undergraduate and graduate level, one on Bahá'í History, Texts, and Tenets, and the other on Nonviolent Social Transformation, are in the works.
Our courses are supplemented by regular webinars on the relationship of the Bahá'í Faith to the world, and nearly 150 programs are available on our YouTube channel. Our 100 adjunct faculty are experts on everything from personal relationships to creative writing, from anti-Black racism to Bahá'í mystical texts, from the lives of the Faith’s Central Figures to the stories of North American indigenous prophets.
Our courses reflect our deep conviction that humanity is one family, that all people are on a quest to find the truth, and that true conversation involves listening with an open heart and a kindly tongue as equals. We welcome everyone, regardless of religious persuasion, to explore with us, dialogue with us, and learn with us.
Come on a journey with the Wilmette Institute!
Robert H. Stockman, Director
SPRING SEMESTER, 2023
Jan 16 – 28 General Registration for Spring Semester 2023
Jan 30 Instruction begins for Spring Semester 2023
Jan 30 – Feb 11 Late Registration Spring Semester 2022
Feb 21 Presidents’ Day: Academic and Administrative holiday /
March 20 – 24 Spring break (Naw-Ruz Mar. 21)
April 4 – 15 Early Registration for Fall Semester 2023
April 15 Good Friday: Academic and Administrative holiday
April 21 First Day of Ridvan; Holy Day, offices closed
April 29 Ninth Day of Ridvan; Holy Day, offices closed
May 2 Twelfth Day of Ridvan; Holy Day, offices closed
May 20 Spring Semester 2022 ends
May 24 Declaration of the Bab; Holy Day, offices closed
May 29 Ascension of Baha’u’llah, Holy Day, offices closed
May 30 Memorial Day: Administrative holiday / Library closed
July 4 Independence Day Observed: Administrative holiday
Jul. 10 Martyrdom of the Bab, Holy Day, offices closed
FALL SEMESTER, 2023
Jul 10 – Aug 18 Certificate Registration Fall 2023 (New Students)
Jul 10 – Sep 4 General Registration Fall 2023 (Returning Students)
Aug 23 – Sep 4 Late Registration Fall 2023 (New Students)
Sep 4 Labor Day Holiday 2023
Sep 5 Instruction begins for Fall Semester 2023
Sep 5–12 Late Registration Fall Semester 2023 (Returning Students)
Oct 16–17 Twin Holy Birthdays: Academic & Administrative holiday
Oct 23–27 Fall Break
Nov 6–17 Early Registration for Spring Semester 2024
Nov 23, 24 Thanksgiving: Academic & Administrative holiday
Dec 15 Fall Semester 2023 ends
Dec 25/26 Christmas: Administrative holiday
Jan 1,2 New Year's: Administrative holiday
Office Hours: Mondays - Fridays, 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education has granted Wilmette Institute an exemption under the criteria outlined in Section 21095.20, subsection b.), of the 23 Illinois Administrative Code 1095 to offer noncredit courses on religion and theology. This exemption applies only to our extension courses. We have applied to the IBHE for operating authority in the state of Illinois for our credit courses.
Illinois Board of Higher Education
1 North Old State Capitol Plaza, Suite 333
Springfield, Illinois 62701-1377
Phone: (217) 782-2551
The Wilmette Institute is currently seeking accreditation but is not currently accredited to offer courses for academic credit. However, since 1999 both undergraduate and graduate students have arranged credit for Wilmette Institute courses through their institutions of higher education, some receiving credit for more than one course. Read more here.
The mission of Wilmette Institute is to offer quality non-degree, certificate programs and courses in Baha’i history and texts, and in the Baha'i approach to social transformation through distance education. The Institute provides innovative and transformative learning experiences that aim to build capacity in learners to contribute to prevalent public discourses from a Baha’i perspective through study, consultation, action, and reflection, to students seeking to make the world more compassionate, just, and inclusive.
Our Guiding Principles:
Our Institutional Goals
The following institutional goals shape all Wilmette Institute programs and courses:
Application: Apply knowledge, insights and skills to:
Executive Committee (Advisory Board)
Required Skills and Equipment
Summary: All learners will need to have broadband Internet connection, and their own computer or laptop with up-to-date software. The Moodle course management platform works through the Internet, and can be easily accessed on either a Windows PC or a Mac. Each learner must have their own email address, and must be able to speak and write English. Basic computer and Internet browsing skills are required of all learners. A webcam and microphone (or headset) for your computer is recommended. See additional details below if you have any doubts about your readiness to learn with us.
You should be able to:
Internet Connection standards:
Test your Internet speed using speedtest.net. Recommended speeds:
Ping response–less than 100ms
Download speed–minimum 10Mbps
Upload speed–minimum 2Mbps
WI community of learning
The Wilmette Institute’s program is based on interactive teaching, learning, and communication. Learners, faculty, and staff are responsible for maintaining high standards of scholarship and collegiality. Faculty and learners actively contribute to one another’s learning through critical dialogue, integrative learning, and collaborative learning. As learners interact with faculty and other learners they can expect to be challenged and to feel a sense of accomplishment, to be treated with respect, and to become part of the Wilmette Institute community. Diversity—of thought, values, and opinion—is valued at the Wilmette Institute. All members of the Wilmette Institute community are expected to be respectful of diverse perspectives.
The Wilmette Institute is pleased to be an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California, since January 2021. GTU is a consortium of 5 Protestant, 2 Catholic, and 1 Unitarian schools; six centers for the study of Islam; Hinduism; Judaism; Theology and the Natural Sciences; Arts and Religion; and Values, Ethics, and Culture; and six affiliated institutions, four of which are respectively dedicated to Buddhism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Swedenborgianism, and the Bahá’í Faith. Wilmette Institute currently offers several courses per semester at GTU.
See more at our Affiliate page on the GTU website.
The Wilmette Institute also has a collaborative relationship with the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (UTS) since 2017. Please write a brief explanation of the relationship UTS - WI here.
Bahá’í History, Texts, and Tenets Certificate
(Department of Baha’i History, Texts, and Tenets)
The Bahá'í History, Texts, and Tenets Certificate is designed to provide a review of the major aspects of the Bahá'í Faith: its history from 1844 to the present; the voluminous writings of Bahá'u'lláh, its founder; its theological teachings about God, revelation, and physical existence; its teachings for building a just, peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world; and the unique organizational system, community life, and personal spiritual development it delineates. The program looks at the Bahá'í Faith comparatively, contextually, and critically, in the light of similar tenets and structures in other traditions. Its learning outcomes are designed for the graduate (Masters) level, but the courses can be taken at the undergraduate level as well.
Program Outcome 1: Compare and contrast Bahá’í tenets and structures with parallels in other religious traditions.
Program Outcome 2: Analyze critically ethical and social issues from a historical and Bahá'í perspective; develop an evolving self-knowledge which includes an awareness of one's own ethical values; deepen one's familiarity with one's own sources for personal renewal, encounters with beauty, and compassion towards self and others; and acquire a stronger desire to serve others.
Program Outcome 3: Develop skills to become change-makers through consultation, discourse, and/or through the application of their knowledge to service.
Students are required to complete four out of y six 3-unit courses available in this certificate program, including RL570: The Bahá'í Faith: A Comprehensive Introduction as the sole prerequisite course. To obtain a certificate, students may select three electives from the following courses:
The Bahá'í Faith: A Comprehensive Introduction (3 Credit Hours)
Faculty: Robert Stockman
The Bahá'í Faith: A Comprehensive Introduction is a starting point for the Wilmette Institute’s Bahá’í History, Texts, and Tenets Certificate program. By offering a thorough and systematic study of Bahá'í scriptures, teachings, and historical development of the community utilizing the academic textbook The Bahá'í Faith: A Guide for the Perplexed (Bloomsbury, 2012), the course provides context for students to take the other certificate courses.
The course provides biographical sketches of its most prominent figures: The Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi as well as opportunities to explore their writings. It also illustrates the origins and development of the current head of the Faith, the Universal House of Justice, and shows how the House of Justice guides Bahá’ís around the world in their efforts to apply the authoritative teachings in their lives and local communities. Implications of this process for individual and social change will be explored in depth.
We will also begin an exploration of basic theological concepts that will be further developed in the Bahá’í Theology course. Such concepts include the nature of God, God’s revelation to humanity, religious truth as both relative and eternal, religious law, and the journey of the soul.
Finally, the course traces the historical evolution of the Bahá’í community from its earliest beginnings in 1844 to its current state as the second most widespread religious community in the world, and among the fastest growing.
Introduction to Bahá'í Theology (3 Credit Hours)
This course on Bahá’í theology (the study of God and creation and of the relationship between them) provides an in-depth study of many of the fundamental spiritual teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. The units are organized around a series of questions we all ask from time to time:
This course is ideal for anyone who wants to delve more deeply into the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith.
Introduction to Bahá’í History
Faculty: Robert Stockman
Introduction to Bahá'í History will explore the major themes of Bahá'í history from the 1850s to the second decade of the twenty-first century, emphasizing the development of the Bahá'í Faith over the last century and a half. We will cover the period from the exile of Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), the founder of the Baha'i Faith to Baghdad in 1853 to the end of Baha’u’llah’s life in 1892; the ministry of Baha’u’llah’s successors, ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1892-1921) and Shoghi Effendi (1921-57); the period from 1957 to 1996, which saw the election of the Universal House of Justice; and the period marking a new direction in community life and outreach to the public (1996-2017).
We will be reading from Peter Smith's The Bahá'í Faith: A Short History as the principal text. Used copies of the book are available on Amazon.
Introduction to Bahá'í Scripture 1: The Writings of Bahá'u'lláh
Faculty: Robert Stockman
The writings of Bahá'u'lláh (1817-92) are a singular phenomenon in religious history. They are estimated to comprise 18,000 works and in excess of six million words, composed in Arabic, Persian, and a unique mixture of both. They also represent a remarkably broad range of genres: poetry (both mathnavi and ghazal forms), mystic treatises, qur’anic and biblical commentary, theological and philosophical texts, prayers, ethical works, polemics, personal letters to relatives and followers, public epistles to kings and rulers, and summary/compilation of previous works. They address nearly every imaginable subject, but their overall theme is to elaborate on the twofold purpose of humanity: to develop our inherent individual potentialities and to contribute to the transformation of global society. Bahá'u'lláh Himself, looking back at His corpus toward the end of His life, said “Never since the beginning of the world hath the Message [the revelation of God] been so openly proclaimed.”
In this course we will undertake a systematic survey of twenty-nine of Bahá'u'lláh’s most important works composed between 1853 and 1892. We will study the works in their approximate order of composition to examine the themes in the works, their contributions to humanity’s social and spiritual advancement, and the historical, social context in which each was revealed. The course will appeal to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Bahá'u'lláh’s prodigious corpus and its implications for humanity.
Approaches to Non-Violent Social Change (3 Credit Hours)
This course explores the history, theory, and practice of nonviolent social change, in dialog with the principles of the Bahá’í Faith and the relevant experience of the Bahá’í community. As students reflect on how to become effective protagonists of social change, we will explore the following questions: How has the philosophy of nonviolent social change contributed to societal development? What is the spiritual or inner dimension to social change? In the pursuit of peace and justice, how can the means we employ become fully coherent with the ends we seek? What is the role of knowledge, learning, training, and capacity building in processes of social change? Students will contribute to public discourse and community building efforts through dynamic discussions, analysis, research, and presentations.
The Individual, the Community, and the Institutions (3 Credit Hours)
Faculty: To be assigned
The Bahá’í Faith defines three protagonists in human development: the individual, the community, and institutions. It calls for a “new conception for each, appropriate for a humanity that is coming of age,” and notes that the “relationships that bind them, too, are undergoing a profound transformation.” The course explores the three protagonists in depth, both from outside of the Bahá’í community and from the new definitions and the relationships among them originating from within the Bahá’í community, with an examination of how they work in the Bahá'í context. In this way participants will explore vital contemporary issues in light of these new definitions and relationships.
The Social Transformation certificate program aims to facilitate a process of gaining knowledge and insights, exploring personal and collective transformation through a Bahá’í framework, and contributing to an evolving public discourse on significant social issues. This program will also equip students to apply a process of study, consultation, praxis and reflection in social action endeavors. Students will gain the ability to effectively analyze the root causes of global issues through solution based critical systems thinking and explore the prerequisites for building a just and peaceful society.
Analyze local and global issues through critical systems thinking
Engage in state of the art thinking about social issues from physical sciences, social sciences and spiritual writings
Gain an appreciation for the intimate connection between local and global challenges
Relate the inherent interconnectivity of social issues through systems thinking to their local and global contexts
Explore the intricate connections between spiritual and material solutions to personal prosperity and social issues through research, praxis, and the arts.
Engage in our twofold moral purpose - a reciprocal process of personal and collective transformation
Critically examine root causes for issues and explore lasting solutions
Engage in a process of study, consultation, action and reflection to address interconnected social issues
Engage in public discourse and social action on significant social issues.
Develop an attitude of learning with and from others through genuine dialog
Identify effective means to contribute to the unfolding public discourse conducive to human prosperity.
Engage effectively in social action that enables people to become protagonists of their own personal and collective development
Students are required to complete three 3-unit courses in the Social Transformation certificate program.
Non-Violent Approaches to Social Change (3 Credit Hours)
This course explores the history, theory, and practice of nonviolent social change, in dialog with the principles of the Bahá’í Faith and the relevant experience of the Bahá’í community. As students reflect on how to become effective protagonists of social change, we will explore the following questions: How has the philosophy of nonviolent social change contributed to societal development? What is the spiritual or inner dimension to social change? In the pursuit of peace and justice, how can the means we employ become fully coherent with the ends we seek? What is the role of knowledge, learning, training, and capacity building in processes of social change? Students will contribute to public discourse and community building efforts through dynamic discussions, analysis, research, and presentations.
Reconstructing Blackness: Anti-Racism and Unity in the US (3 Credit Hours)
This online course will examine how individual and collective transformation towards an anti-racist society necessitates the re-construction of race and Blackness in the U.S. The course will explore some of the most significant manifestations of racism, root causes of issues presented with an interdisciplinary lens, and a unique Baha’i perspective. Units will explore a solutionary approach to the following topics: Constructions of race and the oneness of humankind; stereotypes and cultural appropriation; colonialism and slavery; Civil Rights Movement; segregation, gentrification, environmental racism, and reparations; Prison Industrial Complex and Black Lives Matter; Black women in the U.S.; racism and technology; and constructive resilience and community building. Participants will acquire the capacity to apply this knowledge to their lives, community building and social discourse. This interactive course will utilize a combination of evaluation methods with varying requirements for graduate and undergraduate students.
Human Prosperity and Sustainable Development (3 Credit Hours)
Faculty: Rebecca Teclemariam-Mesbah
This course critically examines theoretical underpinnings, spiritual and material frameworks, and local and global applications of sustainability. We will take a critical look at a variety of vital topics through the interplay between the spiritual and material dimensions of sustainability: systems approaches; science and religion as coherent knowledge sources; reciprocity and restorative justice for the land; profit motive and consumer culture; climate; equity and the human face of sustainability; food, agriculture and animal welfare; and the “green” future. This course will hone in on two discourses around sustainability and development: 1) The United Nations 2030 Agenda, a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all", through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals; 2) Bahá’í inspired framework that fosters human prosperity holistically with various actors on local, national and international levels as protagonists of their own development. Participants will acquire the capacity to apply their knowledge to their lives, community and contribute to social discourse. This interactive course will utilize a combination of assessment methods with varying requirements for graduate and undergraduate students.
Chair: Dr. Susan Maneck
The Department of Bahá’í History and Texts covers the history and development of the Bahá'í community; biographies of the Central Figures (Bahá'u'lláh, 1817-92; the Bab, 1819-50; and `Abdu'l-Bahá, 1844-1921), Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), and other figures of historical significance; the sacred texts of the Faith, that is, those composed by the Central Figures; and the authoritative (but not sacred) texts by Shoghi Effendi, the Universal House of Justice, and works produced on its behalf. Many faculty who teach in the historical side of the department also teach in the texts side because of the importance of historical context in studying them. The department has three sections: history, sacred texts, and authoritative texts.
The Life of the Báb
The Wilmette Institute offers three courses focused on the Bábí movement out of which the Bahá’í Faith developed: the first on the Báb Himself; the second on His followers and the Bábí movement; and the third on the writings of the Báb. The three courses are complementary. The course The Life of the Báb deals with the Báb’s life: His childhood and marriage; the declaration of His mission; His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina; His return to Iran and His initial stay in Shiraz; His escape to Isfahan; His imprisonment in Azerbaijan; and His trial and execution in Tabriz. It ends with a brief consideration of Western academic reflections on “the Episode of the Báb.” The course will share extensive resources for studying the life and teachings of the Báb.
The Bábí Faith, 1844-63: Rediscovering the Dawnbreakers
The Wilmette Institute offers three courses focused on the Bábí movement out of which the Bahá’í Faith developed: the first on the Báb Himself; the second on His followers and the Bábí movement; and the third on the writings of the Báb. The three courses are complementary. In Rediscovering the Dawnbreakers we will study the earliest period of the history of the Bábí and Baha’i Faiths, and will provide opportunities for meditating on the spiritual qualities needed for those who endeavor to live a Baha’i life and to serve the Faith. We will cover the birth of the Bábí revelation, including the declaration of the Báb, the enrollment of the Letters of the Living, and the Báb’s pilgrimage to Mecca; His banishment to Adhirbayjan; His imprisonments in Maku and Chihriq, and the Conference of Badasht; upheavals in the Bábí communities in Mazanderan, Nayriz, and Zanjan; the martyrdom of the Báb in 1850; developments after the Báb’s martyrdom, including an attempt on the life of Nasiri’d-Din Shah; Baha’u’llah’s role in helping the Bábís and His imprisonment in the Siyah-Chal in Tehran; the martyrdom of Tahirih; the executions of many of the Báb’s disciples and the fate of those who persecuted the Báb and His followers. This study of early Bábí and Baha’i history is aimed at suggesting how one can understand contemporary Baha’i communities and their efforts to grow and expand.
The Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees
In The Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees (also the name of a book written by Baharieh Rouhani Maani), we will explore the lives of the women closely related to the Báb, Baha’u’llah, and `Abdu'l-Bahá: Fatimih Bagum and Khadijih Bagum, the mother and wife of the Báb respectively, titled the Most Favored of All Women; Zahra Bagum, sister of the wife of the Báb; Fatimih Khanum, the second wife of the Báb; Khadijih Khanum, mother of Baha’u’llah; Asiyih Khanum, wife of Baha’u’llah, titled Navvab and the Most Exalted leaf; Bahiyyih Khanum, daughter of Baha’u’llah and sister of ‘Abdu'l-Baha, titled the Greatest Holy Leaf; Fatimih Khanum, the second wife of Baha’u’llah, titled Mahd-i ‘Ulya; Gawhar Khanum, the third wife of Baha’u’llah; the sisters of Baha’u’llah; Jinab-i-Maryam, Baha’u’llah's cousin and sister-in-law, titled the Crimson Leaf; and Munireh Khanum, wife of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
Mirza Mihdi: The Purest Branch
This course familiarizes participants with the short life of Mírzá Mihdí whose sacrifice was raised by Bahá’u’lláh to the same station as the great sacrifices of humanity's religious history. He was the youngest son of Bahá’u’lláh and Ásíyih Khánum. Born in Tehran in 1848, Mírzá Mihdí was separated from his parents when they were exiled to Baghdad in 1852. He joined his parents in Baghdad in 1860 and then suffered three successive exiles with his Father over the next ten years to finally be imprisoned in the city-prison of ‘Akká in 1868. When Mírzá Mihdí fell from a skylight in the roof of the prison where he, his family and many Bahá'ís were imprisoned with the Manifestation of God, he was severely injured and likely to die from his injuries. When offered his life by his father, he chose instead to sacrifice it so that the doors of the prison might open and those who longed to see Bahá'u'lláh attain their desire.
`Abdu'l-Bahá: His Life and Ministry
‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Center of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant and the Perfect Exemplar for humankind, is unique in religious history. Drawing on statements by ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, as well as writings by many Baha’is, we will explore ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s life, station, roles, titles, writings, talks, travels, accomplishments, relationship to Baha’u'llah, and impact on others. We will give special attention to the revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, focusing on letters from the House of Justice and other related documents. We will also examine ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s first five decades, 1844-92; His station as the Center of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant and His early years as Head of the Faith, 1892-1910; His travels to and talks in Europe and North America, 1911-13, and His guidance of the Baha’is in those areas; World War I and war and peace, 1914-21; special consideration of His Will and Testament and His passing in 1921 for the upcoming centenary of the inception of the Formative Age, including the decision to construct the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Baha near ‘Akká; and selected topics about ‘Abdu’l-Baha (teachings about governance; philosophy and theology; and evolution).
Shoghi Effendi: His Life and Ministry
In this course we will look briefly at Shoghi Effendi’s childhood and youth (1897–1921) and more extensively at his ministry as Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith (1921-57). We will consider the many roles Shoghi Effendi filled (builder, interpreter, author, and translator) as he carried out his duties as Guardian in fostering the growth and development of the Bahá'í Faith. He devoted much of his ministry to building the administrative order outlined by Baha’u’llah and elaborated by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament and to using it as an instrument for fostering the international spread of the Bahá'í Faith called for by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. Shoghi Effendi also worked tirelessly to extend and beautify the properties of the Bahá'í World Center in Haifa and Acre, to erect the facade of the Shrine of the Báb, and to prepare a physical home for the center of the administrative order. Shoghi Effendi translated many writings of Bahá'u'lláh into English, translated and edited a history of the Bábí period of the Faith, penned thousands of letters clarifying basic Bahá'í teachings, and wrote the classic history of the first hundred years of the Faith's beginnings. His devotion, self-sacrifice, and suffering are an inspiration to Bahá'ís of all generations.
Writing Biographies and Histories: Recording Stories of People and Places
Writing Biographies and Histories: Recording Stories of People and Places is designed to help Bahá’ís who wish to compose a memoir about their own lives, produce a biography of a Baha’i mentor, or write the history of their local Bahá’í community. Units in the first half of the course will cover such topics as selecting a topic and settling on an audience; the philosophy and ethics of writing biographies and history; collecting oral history; research in archives and libraries and on the web; organizing notes and outlining the topic. In the second half of the course, participants will pursue a research and writing project with support and advice from the faculty. The Wilmette Institute may be interested in publishing some short histories, biographies, and memoirs on its public website.
Bahá'í History will explore the major themes of Bahá'í history from the 1850s to the second decade of the twenty-first century, emphasizing the development of the Bahá'í Faith over the last century and a half. We will cover the period from the exile of Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), the founder of the Baha'i Faith to Baghdad in 1853 to the end of Baha’u’llah’s life in 1892; the ministry of Baha’u’llah’s successors, ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1892-1921) and Shoghi Effendi (1921-57); the period from 1957 to 1996, which saw the election of the Universal House of Justice; and the period marking a new direction in community life and outreach to the public (1996-2017).
We will be reading from Peter Smith's The Bahá'í Faith: A Short History as the principal text. Used copies of the book are available on Amazon.
Finding the Hidden Gift: An Approach to Studying the Bahá’í Writings
Finding the Hidden Gift: An Approach to Studying the Bahá’í Writings introduces learners to a systematic method of studying any Bahá’í scripture by using a number of literary and exegetical tools. We will study selected passages from Bahá’í scripture through four "windows" into the meaning of divine wisdom: Language; Theme; Structure; and the Work as a Whole. Through learning to read carefully, with attention to literal and figurative language, theme, structure, and the place of the work in the author's writings, we will develop tools for analyzing any Bahá’í text systematically. The course will also examine quickly five other "windows" into the meaning of scripture: the oeuvre (body of works), the biography, the times, the literary tradition, and the world scriptural tradition.
Charters of the Faith
In Charters of the Faith we will study three "Charters" of the Bahá’í Faith identified by Shoghi Effendi: Bahá'u'lláh’s Tablet of Carmel and `Abdu'l-Bahá’s Will and Testament and Tablets of the Divine Plan. We will read and discuss the full texts of these three charters, supplementing our reading with stories, photographs, and other materials and seeking to gain a deeper understanding of their significance and their application in our own lives. We will examine the "three distinct processes" that Shoghi Effendi states these three charters set in motion, "the first operating in the Holy Land for the development of the institutions of the Faith at its World Center and the other two, throughout the rest of the Bahá’í world, for its propagation and the establishment of its Administrative Order" (Messages to the Bahá’í World, 84). The course will conclude with a discussion about the Hands of the Cause of God and the role they played between Shoghi Effendi’s death in 1957 and the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963 and with the role that individuals play in protecting and expanding the Faith.
Bahá'u'lláh’s Early Mystic Writings
In Bahá'u'lláh’s Early Mystic Writings we will explore a theme that dominates Bahá'u'lláh’s early writings and continues throughout His revelation: the relationship of the individual to spiritual reality—to God, to spiritual truths, to principles of personal development, and to laws of conduct. We will explore Bahá'u'lláh’s Rashh-i-`Ama and some of His early poetry, The Four Valleys, The Seven Valleys, The Hidden Words, and the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. We will also read some Sufi texts that provide historical and literary context for allusions Baha’u’llah makes in His writings. We will round out our study with extensive commentaries and study materials by Bahá’ís on Bahá'u'lláh’s early mystic writings.
Gems of Divine Mysteries and Other Early Tablets
From Mysticism to Prophecy: Gems of Divine Mysteries and Other Early (Baghdad Period) Tablets by Bahá'u'lláh completes the study of Bahá'u'lláh’s early tablets that begins in the course on Bahá'u'lláh’s Early Mystic Writings. In this course we will focus on Gems of Divine Mysteries, a treatise that Bahá'u'lláh tells us he wrote “in reply to a seeker who had asked how the promised Mihdí could have become transformed into ‘Alí-Muḥammad (the Báb).” Part of Gems of Divine Mysteries is similar to the mystical Seven Valleys, while other parts are similar to the later-revealed Kitáb-i-Iqan. Consequently, Gems of Divine Mysteries can be said to mark the transition of the proclamation of Bahá'u'lláhs mission from mystics (mysticism) to divines (prophecy). We will also study other tablets, usually in provisional translations, including the Sura of Counsel (Surah-i-Nush); the City of Divine Unity (Madinat al-Tawḥid); the Suffering of the Exalted Letters; the Tablet of Liberation (in which Bahá'u'lláh frees a slave); and the Sura of Patience (also known as the Tablet of Job), revealed on April 22, 1863, on the first day of Riḍvan.
The Kitáb-i-Iqan: An Introduction
Revealed in January 1861, the Kitáb-i-Iqan (the Book of Certitude) is the “most important book written on the spiritual significance of the Cause” and a work that Bahá'u'lláh calls “the lord of books." Among the "foremost" works of His Revelation, the Iqan is “unequalled by any work in the entire range of Baha’i literature, except the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.” The Iqan is unique in that “this Book alone” provides the basis for reconciling the followers of “the great religions of the world.” It "contains the basic tenets of the Faith" and "explains the attitude" of the Baha’i Faith toward "the prophets of God and their mission in the history of society." It elucidates key allegorical passages in the New Testament and the Qur’an that have caused misunderstandings among religious leaders. The Book of Certitude is one of Bahá'u'lláh's great "contributions to the world’s religious literature” and is "of unsurpassed preeminence among the doctrinal and ethical writings of the Author of the Baha’i Dispensation.”
The Summons of the Lord of Hosts: Bahá'u'lláh’s Proclamation to Kings and Ecclesiastics
This course will explore the series of open letters (“Tablets”) that Bahá’u’lláh sent to “kings and ecclesiastics” (the world’s political and religious leaders) and, to a lesser extent, to statesmen and scholars, beginning in 1867. Written after He privately declared His mission to select followers in the Garden of Ridván on 21 April 1863, these public epistles, according to the Universal House of Justice, “summoned the monarchs of East and West collectively, and some among them individually, to recognize the Day of God and to acknowledge the One promised in the scriptures of the religions professed by the recipients of His Summons.” Bahá’u’lláh Himself says that this Proclamation was unique in the annals of religious history: “Never since the beginning of the world hath the Message been so openly proclaimed.” This course will explore the series of open letters (“Tablets”) that Bahá’u’lláh sent to “kings and ecclesiastics” (the world’s political and religious leaders) and, to a lesser extent, to statesmen and scholars, beginning in 1867. Written after He privately declared His mission to select followers in the Garden of Ridván on 21 April 1863, these public epistles, according to the Universal House of Justice, “summoned the monarchs of East and West collectively, and some among them individually, to recognize the Day of God and to acknowledge the One promised in the scriptures of the religions professed by the recipients of His Summons.” Bahá’u’lláh Himself says that this Proclamation was unique in the annals of religious history: “Never since the beginning of the world hath the Message been so openly proclaimed.” Bahá’u’lláh states that His proclamation was delivered in three stages, in which He declared His mission to “mystics, then divines, and then the kings.” (Ishraqat 260; trans. Saiedi 2000: 241.) Nader Saiedi sequences these stages as follows: (1) first stage, 1852–1860; second stage, 1860–1867; and (3) third stage, 1867–1892. (Saiedi 2000: 7) This course explore the third stage in Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamation.sequences these stages as follows: (1) first stage, 1852–1860; second stage, 1860–1867; and (3) third stage, 1867–1892. (Saiedi 2000: 7.) This course explores the third stage in Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamation.
Bahá’u’lláh’s Summons to Two Ottoman Prime Ministers: A Study of Súriy-i-Ra’ís, Law-i-Ra’ís, and Law-i-Fu’ád
This course will closely examine the three Tablets, Súriy-i-Ra’ís, Law ̇-i-Ra’ís, and Law ̇-i-Fu’ád, addressed by Bahá’u’lláh to the two powerful and highly influential 19th century Turkish Prime Ministers ‘Álí Páshá (1815-1871) and Fu’ád Páshá (1814-1869).
ST049* 2022 only
God Summons Europe (Part I)
Bahá’u’lláh’s Proclamation to Three Powerful Monarchs
This course will closely examine Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamatory letters to Emperor Napoleon III (r. 1852-1870) of France, Tsar Alexander II (r. 1855-1881) of Russia, and Empress Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901) of Great Britain. There will be 4 webinars for this Course, the first of which will be a public Webinar.
The 1st Webinar will examine Bahá’u’lláh’s first Tablet to Emperor Napoleon III sent to him in the closing months of Bahá’u’llah’s exile to Edirne.
The 2nd Webinar will examine Bahá’u’lláh’s second Tablet to Emperor Napoleon III sent to the French monarch from Palestine while Bahá’u’lláh was immured in solitary confinement at the Army Barrack Prison of ‘Akká.
The 3rd Webinar will examine Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet to Tsar Alexander II which was addressed to the Russian monarch while Bahá’u’lláh suffered in solitary confinement at the Army Barrack Prison of ‘Akká.
The 4th Webinar will examine Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet to Queen Victoria sent to the British monarch from Palestine while Bahá’u’lláh was immured in solitary confinement at the Army Barrack Prison of ‘Akká.
God Summons Europe (Part II)
Bahá’u’lláh’s Proclamation to Three Other Powerful Rulers
This course will closely examine Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamatory addresses to Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-1878) of the Roman Catholic Church, Emperor Franz Joseph Hapsburg (r. 1848-1916) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Kaiser Wilhelm I (r. 1871-1888) of the German Empire. There will be 3 webinars for this Course, the first of which will be a public Webinar.
The 1st Webinar will examine Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet to Pope Pius IX sent to the pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church from Palestine while Bahá’u’lláh was immured in solitary confinement at the Army Barrack Prison of ‘Akká.
The 2nd Webinar will examine Bahá’u’lláh’s address to Emperor Franz Joseph Hapsburg of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the pages of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
The 3rd Webinar will examine Bahá’u’lláh’s address to Kaiser Wilhelm I of the German Empire in the pages of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
Introduction to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
About the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Shoghi Effendi has written that it “may well be regarded as the brightest emanation of the mind of Bahá'u'lláh, as the Mother Book of His Dispensation, and the Charter of His New World Order.” He further refers to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as “the principal repository of that Law which the Prophet Isaiah had anticipated, and which the writer of the Apocalypse had described as the ‘new heaven’ and the ‘new earth,’ as ‘the Tabernacle of God,’ as the ‘Holy City,’ as the ‘Bride,’ the ‘New Jerusalem coming down from God,’ this ‘Most Holy Book,’ whose provisions must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the entire planet. . . .” We will read the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and supplemental texts related to it, while studying several of its main themes: covenant, succession, and manifestation; Bahá’í institutions, including the rulers and the learned, the Universal House of Justice, Houses of Worship, Feasts, Holy Days, and the Bahá’í calendar; the nature and purpose of Bahá'u'lláh’s laws; Bahá'u'lláh’s ordinances; prohibitions and punishments; Bahá'u'lláh’s proclamations to kings, rulers, places, and groups of people; education and transformation; and teaching the Bahá’í Faith.
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
After revealing the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in 1873-74, Bahá'u'lláh penned a series of tablets that include the Lawh-i-Aqdas, the Book of the Covenant, and the Tablet of Carmel. The tablets revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas elaborate on Bahá'u'lláh’s laws, further explore the nature of the mystical life, describe basic theological teachings, and expound the principles necessary for transforming human society. The bulk of these weighty epistles were published in 1978 in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas. In this course we will read and study these tablets and discuss their relationship to other works by Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá. All readings will be provided via the web; no books need to be purchased.
Tabernacle of Unity
The five tablets in The Tabernacle of Unity proclaim some of the central tenets of Bahá'u'lláh's Faith and the universality of His prophetic claims. In this course we will undertake a careful reading of the five tablets, exploring the Bahá’í concepts of progressive revelation and the role of religion in advancing human civilization; the relevance of the tablets to interfaith dialogue; and what the tablets teach us about the process of revelation. Bahá'u'lláh addressed two tablets to a Zoroastrian who admired Him and who asked questions about Zoroastrianism and Hinduism and three tablets to Bahá’ís of Zoroastrian background. The first tablet to the Zoroastrian admirer discusses a variety of questions about the tenets of Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions, emphasizing what is right and true in the various doctrines and beliefs under examination. When the admirer indicated that he had hoped for more detailed answers, Bahá'u'lláh revealed a longer tablet (the second one in the book) elaborating on each of the questions. As a group, the tablets show Bahá'u'lláh's love for the followers of a religion that arose in Iran, where His own revelation was born.
Exploring Bahá’u’lláh's Last Major Work: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
In the course on Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha’u’llah’s last major work, which is a single letter containing His own anthology of His writings, we will read the book slowly over a period of six weeks, examining major themes of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation: God as the source of His revelation; Who Bahá'u'lláh is; why He came; proofs of His station; His general teachings; the sufferings He endured; humanity’s responses to His revelation; and accounts of martyrs that illustrate the transforming power of the Bahá’í Faith. Revealed for an enemy of the Bahá’í Faith, Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí (surnamed "Son of the Wolf"), the book warns him about the consequences of his persecution of the Faith. Containing as it does Bahá'u'lláh’s quotations from His own revelation, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf provides an excellent summary of themes He considered important to understanding the Bahá’í Faith.
The Writings of the Báb
The Wilmette Institute offers three courses focused on the Bábí movement out of which the Bahá’í Faith developed: the first on the Báb Himself; the second on His followers and the Bábí movement; and the third on the writings of the Báb. The three courses are complementary. This course is an introduction to the Báb’s principal writings. It features webinars by Steven Phelps: “Overview of the Writings of the Báb” and Armin Eschraghi: “The Báb’s Tablet about the Special Prophethood of Muhammad”.
Discovering the Báb's Persian Bayán: The Most Holy Book of the Bábí Religion
Discovering the Báb’s Persian Bayán is the first concise yet comprehensive online study of the Báb’s “pivotal” and “doctrinal” work. Participants will explore and examine the various themes and dimensions of this very lengthy book which Shoghi Effendi describes as “that monumental repository of the laws and precepts of the new Dispensation….” Learn about the “central message” of the Bayán and discover how the Báb as “the Promised Messenger of God” broke away from traditional Shí‘a and Sunní doctrine by introducing new laws and ordinances for the next phase of the human spiritual development.
The Secret of Divine Civilization and Ottoman Reform
In The Secret of Divine Civilization we will study `Abdu'l-Bahá’s first extensive description of Bahá’í social teachings, reading it slowly over a period of seven weeks. Elaborating on principles that Bahá’u’lláh enunciated in His tablets to the kings and leaders of the world, the treatise describes the true nature of civilization and provides a blueprint for the “future reorganization of the world.” To develop the theme of universal peace, honest government, and religion as the true bases of world order, `Abdu'l-Bahá redefines the Islamic tradition that a learned person "must guard himself, defend his faith, oppose his passions and obey the commandments of his Lord." Leaders, in particular, are called to a new standard of honesty and trustworthiness, a theme of particular interest during any election cycle. This course will thus look at the complementary processes of personal transformation and social development, leading to a reorganization of the world. It will also examine the book as an early example of public discourse and consider how we can use it to improve our own efforts in public discourse.
Some Answered Questions
Some Answered Questions consists of a series of questions that Laura Clifford Barney asked `Abdu'l-Bahá over lunch in Acre between 1904 and 1906. The answers were recorded in Persian. `Abdu'l-Bahá reviewed, modified, and approved them, thereby converting pilgrim's notes into authoritative Bahá’í text. Barney herself undertook the task of translating them into English. The resulting classic Bahá’í text appeared in 1908. Limitations in the translation have been a concern for some time, as Barney was not fully conversant with philosophical terminology. The translation, newly revised by a Committee at the Bahá’í World Center, resolves many difficulties and brings the authoritative interpretations of `Abdu'l-Bahá to an English-speaking audience with new clarity and precision.
Pearls of Bounty
Published especially for the occasion of the centenary of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (2021), Pearls of Bounty is a new collection of prayers, Tablets, and talks of the Master translated into English and prepared for publication over the years in the course of the work at the Bahá’í World Centre. This beautiful limited-edition book contains nineteen prayers, most of which were revealed for or about children; twenty-eight Tablets, including the historic Tablets to The Hague; and twelve table talks given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Akká on a wide range of subjects. Most of the selections included here appear in print for the first time.
Pearls of Bounty can be purchased from the Bahá’í Publishing Trust.
The Báb’s Qayyumu’l-Asma': Commentary on the Qur’an’s Surih of Joseph
The new dispensation announced by the Báb challenged existing notions of religion and revelation. The Báb’s commentary on the Súrih of Joseph is a highly intricate and complex composition which betrays the authorial presence of the young messiah at every word. Yet, almost every word is Qur’anic, however rearranged and ordered to conform to the new message. Thus revelation is seen in a different light. While it is certainly divine in origin, the creativity and the boldness it represents should be seen as coming directly from the Báb Himself. Thus revelation emerges as a cooperative activity, one shared by God and the manifestation. Details and examples of such artistry and creativity will be illustrated through provisional translation.
Introduction to Bahá'u'lláh’s Writings
In Introduction to Bahá'u'lláh’s Writings, we will undertake a systematic introduction to twenty of Bahá’u’lláh’s most important works, ranging from The Hidden Words to Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. We will study themes in the works, topics that Bahá’u'lláh progressively revealed during His ministry, and related tablets wherever possible. The course is designed for learners seeking basic information about the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, new Bahá’ís wishing more context for Bahá’u’lláh's most important works, and veteran Bahá’ís seeking deeper understanding of the ocean of Bahá’u'lláh's revelation. We will not read the twenty works in their entirety but, rather, will sample passages from the selection of important works revealed by Bahá’u’lláh.
Three World Order of Bahá’u’lláh Letters
We read the headlines: pandemic disease, plagues of locusts, wildfires, flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes…. In the face of all of this the Universal House of Justice writes in its letter of October 2017: “To all who celebrate the Glory of God, This salutary truth we maintain: that the people of the earth have always been remembered by their God.” In this study of three foundational letters by Shoghi Effendi—“The Goal of a New World Order,” “America and the Most Great Peace,” and “The Unfoldment of a World Civilization”—we will clarify our understanding of the times in which we live, explore the vision of the glorious future promised by Baha’u’llah, and work to identify the role that each of us can play in bringing humanity closer to its God-ordained destiny. .
The Promised Day is Come
Shoghi Effendi’s dramatic letter, The Promised Day Is Come, was written in the early months of 1941, while the vast majority of the world’s countries were being drawn into the deadliest conflict in human history. The horrors of World War II could have been averted if humanity had accepted the teachings of Baha’u’llah. However, the Prescription by the Divine Physician had been met with “cold indifference,” and the Central Figures of the Faith had been cruelly persecuted. The World War, then, was both a retributory calamity, punishing the perversity of the human race, and a “cleansing process,” welding the peoples and nations into a single, world-embracing community, and preparing humanity for the future “Most Great Peace.” In this course we will study Baha’u’llah’s proclamations to the world’s rulers and their responses, the recipients of His message and their ensuing humiliation, and how “This process of deterioration. . . is still operating with undiminished force.” Finally, we will reflect on the role each of us must play during the current Five Year Plan in “leading humanity out of the valley of misery and shame to the loftiest summits of power and glory.”
The Advent of Divine Justice
Shoghi Effendi’s soul-stirring letter, The Advent of Divine Justice, was written in 1938 during a time of tremendous turmoil in world affairs. As we find ourselves once again in the midst of breathtaking worldwide change, we turn to his brilliant analysis of our strengths and weaknesses, to his unerring guidance, and to his assurances of our “unspeakably glorious destiny.” While addressed “To the beloved of God” in the United States and Canada—countries not yet caught up in the vortex of World War II—his sweeping vision of the World Order of Baha’u’llah is thrilling for all Bahá’ís for all time. Shoghi Effendi helps us understand that there is one Divine Plan, “whose Source is God, whose author is Bahá’u’lláh,” and “whose outline has been delineated for them by the pen of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.” Shoghi Effendi himself leads us to further stages in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan, which continues to be propelled forward under the guidance of the Universal House of Justice. In this course we will learn the spiritual prerequisites for success of the Divine Plan, the teaching requirements, and the “double crusade” each Baha’i must conduct to “prepare . . . for the time when the Hand of Destiny will have directed them to assist in creating and in bringing into operation that World Order. . . .” As the Universal House of Justice wrote in its December 29, 2015, letter: This is an urgent call for action—“the urgency . . . impelled by the world’s desperate condition.” As we embark on the current Five Year Plan, study of The Advent of Divine Justice could not be more imperative.
One Common Faith
People of different faiths (including those with non-religious worldviews) increasingly dialogue with each other. Even so, interreligious conflict is still all too prevalent in the 21st century. Study of One Common Faith – centred as it is on the bold assertion that “the time has come when religious leadership must face honestly and without further evasion the implications of the truth that God is one and that . . . religion is likewise one” – will give us concepts, understandings and tools for effective contributions to interfaith dialogue and to public discourse on the role of religion in society.
Century of Light
`Abdu'l-Bahá referred to the twentieth century as the “century of light” while also forecasting terrible trials for humanity and events of great consequence for humanity’s future. In 2001 the Universal House of Justice released an historical study of the century, noting that between 1900 and 2000 “our world underwent changes,” mostly little understood, “far more profound than any in its preceding history” and, at the same time, the Baha’i Faith emerged from obscurity, “demonstrating on a global scale the unifying power with which its Divine origin has endowed it.” In Century of Light we will review, in the context of the Baha’i teachings, the two processes of the disintegration of an old order and the emergence of a new order and will examine the relationship between them. Our aim will be to tap into a perspective that is “spiritually enriching” and also “of practical help in sharing with others the challenging implications of the Revelation brought by Baha’u’llah.
The Bahá’í teachings refer to marriage as a “fortress for well-being and salvation” and as the foundation for a unified global society. Healthy relationships and marriages are the foundation for creating families. The process of creating and maintaining relationships requires knowledge and skills. Individuals and couples thrive when they are engaged in personal and couple growth and development founded on spiritual teachings. The Relationship and Marriage courses build capacity in the participants to make wise choices and create happy, unified marriages that are of service to those involved and outward to others.
Audience: The Wilmette Institute offers spiritually-based, practical, and participatory courses for:
Course Content: Courses include the Bahá’í Writings, relationship and marriage education materials, discussion questions and Forum, learning activities, skill-building opportunities, videos, articles, the arts, active faculty-mentoring (available by email, videoconference, or phone as needed), and more.
Are We Ready for Marriage?
Audience: Couples in a serious relationship considering marrying; anyone wanting to better understand marriage preparation. You are in a serious relationship and wondering whether you can be successful together in marriage. Come explore your shared vision of a possible unified future life together. Engage in a rich learning experience about: friendship, communication, spiritual unity, being of service, equality, family life with children, money and work, marriage as a divine institution and foundation for world unity, uniting a couples’ families, and parental consent to marriage. Thorough preparation for marriage helps couples establish a strong foundation.
Thinking of Relationships and Marriage?
Audience: Single individuals not yet in a relationship or individuals or couples in the early stage of a relationship; can be useful for others doing a relationship well-being check. You may be uncertain about being in a relationship and also be thinking, “Why get married?” Come explore and learn new perspectives and ways of preparing for positive experiences. Building a relationship can be a natural part of your life journey to establish a close connection with someone. Thinking of Relationships and Marriage? will help you navigate through a coherent process of building a friendship, assessing character, understanding male-female relationships, and being of service. Your learning will position you to make significant decisions about courtship and the broader horizon of marriage.
Love, Friendship, and Service in Marriage
Audience: Engaged and married couples. In happy marriages, couples are intimate and loving companions who know each other well and who provide thoughtful service to each other. However, the press of busy lives can unconsciously lessen your connection. Engaged and married couples will deepen their understanding of each other with practical tools related to friendship, love, and service. You will choose couple practices to have as the culture of your marriage that enhance your unity and help you serve each other, your families, and outward to others.
Parental Consent for Marriage
Audience: Couples who are considering asking parents for consent to marry; parents wanting to understand the teachings about parental consent; anyone wanting to know more about the subject. Engaging in Parental Consent for Marriage is a course centered in the Bahá’í belief that marriage is intended to be a unifying experience for a family. It explores the knowledge and skills needed during courtship as well as those that help build family unity throughout the process leading up to a marriage. The course covers the purpose and process of parental consent, a requirement for Bahá’í marriages; the couple’s responsibilities during courtship and before asking parents for consent to marry; parental responsibilities during courtship, consent, and engagement; and building a united family.
Nurturing Your Baby Spiritually During Pregnancy
Audience: Mothers, fathers, and other family members planning for the changes ahead. Are you currently expecting a baby or planning to grow your family in the near future? This course invites participants to learn ways to nurture the spiritual well-being of a baby during pregnancy and in the parents as they experience this significant change. Topics include the role and preparation of mothers, fathers, and other family members for the changes ahead; the use of prayer and spiritual scripture throughout the experience; the marriage and family unit as the secure foundation for the well-being of the child; and the importance of building a spiritual and emotional support network for new parents. This course consists of 5 units and is available year-round.
Foundations for Relationships-Ages 18-30
Youth 18-30 years old are invited to gather in videoconference study groups to explore the Bahá’í teachings and their practical application for healthy relationships and marriage! Personal study and group meetings will aid you in learning about your own and a partner’s character, building a friendship, understanding your expectations and what’s important to you in a partner, being a couple, interacting with parents, and forming a healthy marriage. Participants register as individuals and are grouped during the first few days of the course and matched with a faculty-mentor; groups may form through their own connections or be formed by faculty. [Individuals 31 and older are welcome to study similar content in the self-study course “Thinking of Relationships and Marriage”.]
What is Bahá'í Courtship and Marriage?
Are you curious what it looks like to have a courtship and marriage based on the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith? This course helps introduce the spiritual concepts that underlie a couple’s choices throughout marriage preparation and as they build a life together in marriage. Materials will include the importance of creating and maintaining spiritual harmony, character, friendship, consultation, family and community service, equal partnership, unity, and more. Everyone is welcome, and please invite your friends.
Creating Marriage Well-Being from the Beginning
It’s fun and challenging to start and establish a marriage on a firm foundation. We invite couples in the first five years of marriage (for those in a serious relationship or who are engaged please look at "Are We Ready For Marriage?") to strengthen their experience of the divine institution of marriage. Baha’u’llah refers to marriage as a “fortress for well-being and salvation”. Couples will have opportunities to deepen their friendship, expand communication and consultation skills, enhance spiritual and physical well-being, and establish roles and responsibilities as marriage partners.
Re-Vitalizing Our Marriage
Couples in challenged marriages will benefit from both individual and couple learning and activities to create stronger, happier unions. The Baha’i teachings and science, as well as faculty-mentoring, will assist participants in carrying out practical actions. Marriage well-being, kindness, unity, equality, justice, respect, intimacy, and building a support team are some of the subjects covered in this 8-week course.
Strengthening Married Individuals
When individual partners strive to be emotionally and spiritually healthy, it contributes to the strength of their marriage. We invite individuals to refresh their understanding of the Baha’i teachings about marriage and gain insights into how their feelings, thoughts, words, actions, self-respect, happiness, and spiritual practices affect themselves and their marriage partner. As individuals increase in well-being, they benefit their marriage.
Re-Connecting As Marriage Partners
Sometimes couples can lose some of their connection with each other in the course of busy marriage and family life, work, and service. Participants will learn practical ways to build greater closeness, intimacy, and unity, while strengthening their love and friendship. They will also assess and improve their practice of equality, justice, and respect in their marriage. Couples who learn new skills and approaches can stay together for the long-term.
Communicating in Marriage and Family
Couples who pray, communicate effectively, and consult skillfully together can understand one another, make unified decisions, and maintain unity. Family consultation teaches children how to cooperate with others and make decisions, a skill that will benefit them (and their parents!) throughout life. As skillful communication and consultation increases in a marriage and family, conflict and disunity are less likely to arise, and unified outcomes increase.
Re-Vitalizing Our Marriage
Couples in challenged marriages will benefit from both individual and couple learning and activities to create stronger, happier unions. The Bahá’í teachings and science, as well as faculty-mentoring, will assist participants in carrying out practical actions. Marriage well-being, kindness, unity, equality, justice, respect, intimacy, and building a support team are some of the subjects covered in this 8-week course.
The Bahá’í teachings uphold the importance of raising children of good character and building unified families, calling mothers the first educators of the child and children the “most precious treasure a community can possess.” But what do these teachings really look like in a modern day context?
Counter to the common assumption that parenting skills emerge automatically once a couple gives birth to a child, raising service-oriented and resilient children requires a great deal of knowledge, reflection, and skill building. Families thrive when both the parents’ and the children’s growth and development are founded on spiritual teachings. The Parenting and Family courses at the Wilmette Institute aim to build capacity in the participants to make wise choices and create happy, unified homes that are of service to those involved and outward to others.
Audience: The Wilmette Institute offers spiritually-based, practical, and participatory courses for:
Course Content: Courses include the Bahá’í Writings, parent education materials, discussion questions and forums, learning activities, skill-building opportunities, videos, articles, the arts, mentoring by email, and more.
Conscious Parenting of Young Children
We invite you to build your capacity to offer spiritual education to children five years old and under. Topics in the course include analyzing the roles and responsibilities of parents according to a Bahá’í perspective, strengthening the ability of parents to nurture spiritual qualities in young children, creating a positive relationship between parents and children even in the face of challenging behaviors, and building family unity through engaging in spiritual practices and service together. We will also learn positive parenting practices to help children develop independence and address entitlement.
Navigating Media and Screen Time
Do you want more tools to help your child navigate society’s intense media environment? In today’s world socializing, personal expression, and dating often occur between texts and social media, raising new challenges and opportunities for children and teens. This course is aimed at parents, caretakers, and educators of children up to 15 years old and offers a safe space to critically examine the role screen time plays in their family. It will help participants learn how to address the common media-related issues facing their children and guide them to apply Bahá’í principles to their time online.
Communication Skills for Spiritually Minded Families
Family unity is linked to the quality of respectful and effective communication between all family members. Inspired by quotations from the Bahá’í Writings as well as stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the course materials invite you and your family to explore different techniques for communicating effectively, understand the importance of encouragement, foster a learning mode, and implement and carry out family meetings. This course is appropriate for those with children 14 years old and under.
Fostering a Bahá’í Identity in Families
How can we help children place love for Bahá’u’lláh and the desire to be of service to others as the foundation of their lives? This course enables parents to explore how they can foster a child’s connection to the Bahá’í Faith through developing spiritually uplifting routines at home, engaging in service within the home as well as in their communities, and aligning family activities with the current goals of their communities. Participants will be given positive parenting tools inspired by the Bahá’í Writings as well as hands-on strategies for implementing spiritual practices at home. Materials are suited for those with children 14 years old and under.
Embracing Spiritual Motherhood
Come be inspired as a mother to embrace the noble role you have in raising your children while also maintaining the sacred space for nurturing your own independent spiritual identity. The course will utilize the arts as well as call upon stories of Bahá’í women in history to help you analyze the social forces playing on your decision-making processes, examine the dichotomies facing mothers in modern day society, redesign the definition of what “service” and “motherhood” are, develop a positive mindset, and create a vision for your family based on your spiritual reality as a woman and mother.
Empower Your Marriage & Family to Thrive
Do you want the best for your marriage and family, but it’s hard to juggle everything? This course will help you understand and organize your roles and responsibilities, establish your marriage and family unit as a secure foundation for the well-being of all in the family, nurture family spiritual habits and virtues, and have positive family unity through spiritual practices and service together. You will study spiritual principles from the Bahá’í teachings that apply, learn helpful information from science, and carry out practical application of your learning.
Co-Chairs: Dr. Moojan Momen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Mikhail Sergeev, email@example.com
The department teaches courses in the various religions of the world (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religions, and native American approaches to the sacred), their scriptures, and their divisions (such as Shi’ism, Shaykhism, and Sufism), usually with a Bahá'í perspective included at some point in the course. It also offers a few courses on the Bahá'í Faith itself (philosophy, theology, interfaith dialogue, and science and religion) where the Faith is being considered from a religious studies perspective.
How does Bahá’í spirituality help us develop mental clarity, spiritual awareness, inner calm, and even physical health? In Bahá’í Spirituality we will begin with a discussion of prayer and meditation in comparative perspective. Then we will consider the distinctive elements of Bahá’í prayer and meditation; the artistry of bodily postures and divine verses blended in the obligatory prayers; the history and significance of the Greatest Name and its use in prayers and meditations; the spiritual and physiological benefits of fasting; and how fasting might promote self-control and restraint. We will read and discuss insights from recent studies in medicine, psychology, and other scholarly fields to aid us in understanding how Bahá’í spirituality can lead to profound experiences of peace, encouragement, and joy.
Judaism for Deepening and Dialogue
Judaism, the oldest of the Semitic religions, can be said to be the mother Faith of Christianity, Islam, the Bábí Faith, and the Bahá’í Faith. In Judaism for Deepening and Dialogue we will focus on the eternal spiritual teachings that, according to the Bahá’í writings, all religions share. We will also explore Jewish theology and principles; Jewish history--Biblical, post-Biblical, modern, and modern sectarian; post-Biblical literature; the Jewish calendar, prayer, and life-cycle rituals; and Jewish/Bahá’í dialogue. Our aim is to study Judaism for the purposes of deepening (acquiring a better understanding of the basics of another divinely revealed religion and, by comparison, of the Bahá’í Faith) and dialogue (sharing one's faith perspective with people of other religions in an informed and respectful manner).
Exploring the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
The Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is a collection of writings sacred to Jews and Christians. It includes historical accounts, prophetic utterances, sacred stories, poetry, hymns, and a variety of other material. Composed over one thousand years by innumerable authors, it was assembled into a single collection after the year 70 CE. From its inception the emerging Christian community accepted the Hebrew Bible as scripture, although initially the canon was fluid, as the complete list of included books was not settled until the third or fourth century CE. In Exploring the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) we will survey the Hebrew Bible’s major books (including selections from the Pentateuch, the earlier and later prophets, the Psalms, and other writings) in the light of progressive revelation and in the historical contexts that they depict. We will also compare the Hebrew Bible with Bahá’í scripture, paying particular attention to passages in the Hebrew Bible that have been “unsealed” (authoritatively interpreted) by the Bahá’í revelation. Studying the Hebrew Bible in the light of the Bahá’í writings aims to confirm one’s faith and to provide opportunities for sharing the Bahá’í revelation with others.
Exploring the Book of Isaiah
The book of Isaiah is one of the longest and most complex prophetic works in the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament). Probably composed in stages by different individuals or groups of individuals, the oldest section traces back to Isaiah ben Amoz, who lived in the eighth century BCE. The book contains what many consider to be the oldest clear statement of monotheism and also promises the coming of a Kingdom under a messiah. Many peoples, throughout the millennia, have interpreted the prophetic passages many ways. The Bahá’í Faith offers new interpretations of some of the passages in Isaiah, and Bahá’ís infer other interpretations. In Exploring the Book of Isaiah we will undertake a careful reading of the text to understand its historical nature and to put Bahá’í interpretations in an historical context.
Christianity for Deepening and Dialogue
In Christianity for Deepening and Dialogue we will look at the development of Christianity: the historical Jesus; the formation of the Bible; the development of Mediterranean Christianity and its later split into Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism; the rise of Protestantism and the modern age; and the vast diversification of Christianity throughout American history. We will explore the immense diversity of modern Christianity and the difficulty of crafting a single approach to them all. We will look at some basic Christian teachings—incarnation, sin, and grace—and such concepts as the trinity, the Eucharist, baptism, the kingdom of God, faith in miracles, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. We will study Christianity for the purposes of deepening and dialogue—that is, for understanding the basics of Christianity as a divinely revealed religion and for learning how to share the Bahá’í perspective with a variety of Christians in an informed and respectful manner.
Exploring the New Testament
The Christian New Testament is a collection of chronicles and letters that pertain to the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known as Christ. Composed by numerous writers, the works were accepted as a sacred collection in the third and fourth Christian centuries. In Exploring the New Testament, we will study the New Testament’s major books in the light of progressive revelation and in their historical context. We will cover the Gospels; writings attributed to James, Jude, Paul, and Peter; the Book of Revelation; and specific themes in the New Testament. We will also briefly examine the vast Christian literature that did not become part of the approved “canon” now known as the New Testament. Our study of the New Testament is for the purposes of deepening and dialogue--that is, for understanding the basics of Christianity as a divinely revealed religion (and, by comparison, the Bahá’í Faith) and for learning how to share the perspective of the Bahá’í Faith with a variety of Christians in an informed and respectful manner.
Exploring the Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) holds a unique position as the only prophetic book in the Christian New Testament. The prophetic vision opens with a statement of its authority, a vision to John of Patmos from God transmitted by means of Jesus Christ and an angel. Its rich symbolism has been the object of study by Christians, both scholarly and popular, giving rise to many views of the future and the end times. Its language and symbolism owe much to the prophets of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and likewise shares motifs with later revelation in the Holy Qur’an and the Bahá’í writings. In Exploring the Book of Revelation we will explore the contents of this fascinating sacred vision in the context of progressive revelation, highlighting its links to both former and later sacred texts. The Bahá’í Faith offers new interpretations of some of the passages in the Book of Revelation, and individual Bahá’í scholars infer other interpretations. In this course we will undertake a careful reading of the contents of this sacred text to understand its historical nature, emphasizing those passages for which authoritative interpretations are given by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Islam for Deepening and Dialogue
In Islam for Deepening and Dialogue we will begin with a survey of the life of Muhammad, a Manifestation of God, and a review of the origins, development, and content of the Qur’an, including the teachings and practices of Islam. We will then examine the Sunni/Shiite split over issues of succession and authority and discuss Islamic mysticism, or Sufism, and the Sufi poetic tradition. Finally, we will turn to contemporary Islam and to Islam and other religions, including the Bahá’í Faith. With ongoing anti-Islamic sentiment throughout the world, there is no better time to improve our understanding of one of the world’s most important and influential religions and to prepare for discussing it with Christian and Muslim friends and neighbors.
Introduction to Shaykhism
In this Introduction to Shaykhism we will explore the history and teachings of a community whose founders and ideas were essential to the rise of the Bábí Faith. In two units we will read and discuss biographies of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i and of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti. In additional units we will examine their teachings, focusing particularly on their concept of God. Throughout the course, we will explore the relationship of Shaykhism to Shi'ite Islam and to the Bábí Faith as well as the role its founders played as forerunners of and preparation for the Báb. Many of the readings will come from the brilliant work of the French scholar A. L. M. Nicholas, available in English translation or summary, but we will also use the works of other Shaykhi scholars .
Introduction to Sufism
Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam concerned with describing the nature of and developing a deep personal relationship with God. Sufis created a vast literature in poetic and essay form about the human relationship with God, developed important ideas and terms to describe it, and wrote ecstatically about the experience itself. In the process they discovered important insights into the meaning of many Qur'anic passages. The language they developed provided the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh with a powerful vocabulary and a set of metaphors to express their revelation. In Introduction to Sufism we will study the origins and development of the Sufi tradition and its foundational role for understanding many Bahá’í texts.
Exploring the Qur’an
The Qur’an is the divine revelation on which the religion of Islam is based. Shoghi Effendi has emphasized the importance of Bahá’ís’ studying the Qur’an: “They must . . . approach reverently and with a mind purged from preconceived ideas the study of the Qur’an which, apart from the sacred scriptures of the Bábí and Baha’i revelations, constitutes the only Book which can be regarded as an absolutely authenticated Repository of the Word of God” (The Advent of Divine Justice 49). In a letter written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi advises “the friends to make a thorough study of the Qur'an, as the knowledge of this sacred Scripture is absolutely indispensable for every believer who wishes to adequately understand and intelligently read, the writings of Baha’u’llah” (Directives of the Guardian 63). In Exploring the Qur’an, we will examine Baha’i references to the Qur’an and study a summary of the Qur’an and the tenets of Islam. Then we will study how the Qur’an describes itself and delve into several topics in the Qur’an: the nature of God; divine unity; the Prophets of God; and the Latter Day. Finally, we will discuss some Qur’anic verses as they relate to the Bahá’í Faith.
Hinduism for Deepening and Dialogue
In Hinduism for Deepening and Dialogue, we will examine the complex of beliefs and practices that constitute “Hinduism,” numerically the world’s third largest religion, and one of the oldest. We will begin with an overview of Hinduism, including the problem of defining what it is. After reviewing its history and sources of authority, we will explore central Hindu concepts (the nature of the divine, the self, and the soul; Krishna and the “avatara” doctrine; concepts of karma and rebirth); Hindu ethics and social structures; and Hindu practices (yoga, meditation, laws, worship, festivals and holy days, diet). A comparison with Bahá’í views will be threaded throughout. Last, we will examine Hinduism in the modern world, its spread from the place of its birth in the Indian subcontinent, and the growth of the Bahá’í Faith in India. We will be studying for two purposes: deepening in the basics of Hinduism as a divinely ordained religion and its relationship to the Bahá’í Faith and preparing for dialogue and service with adherents of Hinduism.
Buddhism for Deepening and Dialogue
Buddhism for Deepening and Dialogue will survey the life and teachings of the Buddha, the development of Buddhist concepts and practices, and the dissemination of Buddhism throughout Asia and eventually to the West. We will read excerpts from Buddhist texts and examine similarities and differences between Buddhism and the Bahá’í Faith (and other religions), including the emphasis both place on personal transformation. The course will deepen your understanding of an important world religion and will prepare you for discussing spiritual concepts and practices with Buddhist friends and neighbors.
Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue
In this course we will cover the rise and development of the Taoist and Confucian traditions; explore their ideas, values, and practices; consider the ways they are being modified and applied in the modern world; and examine their similarities to and differences from the Bahá’í teachings. By studying Chinese thought and values, Baha’is should obtain a greater appreciation of the Bahá’í Faith and acquire experience in relating the Faith to Chinese people in an informed and respectful manner.
Zoroastrianism for Deepening and Dialogue
Zoroastrianism, an ancient religious tradition founded by Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, some 500 to 1,000 years before Christ, is the focus of this course. We will examine Zoroaster's life, what has survived of His words, His teachings, the subsequent developments of the Zoroastrian tradition, references to Zoroastrianism in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, and the relationship of Zoroastrianism to later religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá'í Faith). We will study Zoroaster and the divinely ordained religion He founded to deepen in the basics of Zoroastrianism and its relationship to the Bahá'í Faith and to prepare for dialogue with adherents of Zoroastrianism.
Indigenous Perspectives on the Sacred
In Indigenous Perspectives on the Sacred (formerly titled Native American Religion and Spirituality), we will examine the common threads found in indigenous spiritual beliefs and practices and the universal message of Bahá’u’lláh. We will explore how Native American teachings and values reflect some of the more salient teachings and principles of the Bahá’í revelation and in so doing will also inquire into how culture shapes our perceptions of reality and seek to gain insights into our inherent cultural biases. We will cover a range of topics: the historic culture clash between indigenous peoples and settlers; the use of language and symbolism in intercultural communication; the impacts of colonization and Christianity in the colonization process; and the effect both have had on native religion and spirituality and the implications for the spread of Bahá’u’lláh’s message in indigenous communities. In our readings, discussions, and consultations, we will strive for expansive thinking and will also revisit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s statement about the importance of the original inhabitants of North America and the Lakota prophecy about the rise of the Seventh Generation, reframing these statements in the context of the current Five Year Plan (2016-21).
The Great Spirit Speaks: Voices of the Wise Ones
The Great Spirit Speaks: Voices of the Wise Ones introduces several of the founders of Indigenous spiritual traditions of the Americas, such as: (1) Deganawida, the Peacemaker (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois); (2) White Buffalo Calf Woman (Lakota); (3) Sweet Medicine (Cheyenne); (4) Lone Man (Mandan and Hidatsa); (5) Breathmaker (Seminole and Miccosukee); (6) Quetzalcoatl (Toltec); (7) Viracocha (Inca/Quechua); (8) Gluskap (Wabanaki); (9) Talking God (Navajo/Diné); (10) Bunjil (Australian Aboriginal Tradition). In so doing, some pieces of the puzzle of “Progressive Revelation” are added in order to present a much fuller picture of the panoramic scope of the world’s religious history, considering that the Western Hemisphere comprises roughly half of the world’s land mass. From a Bahá’í perspective, the basis for recognizing and respecting these “Wise Ones” is to be found in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s authoritative statement in the authorized translation of the Tablet to Amír Khán: “In ancient times the people of America were, through their northern regions, close to Asia, that is, separated from Asia by a strait. . . . Undoubtedly in those regions the Call of God must have been raised in ancient times, but it hath been forgotten now.” That which is “forgotten,” of course, can be remembered. Implications and recommendations optimizing Bahá’í–Indigenous interrelationships and community-building initiatives will be offered as well.
Introduction to Islam
In Introduction to Islam we will begin with a survey of the life of Muhammad, a Manifestation of God, and a review of the origins, development, and content of the Qur’an, including the teachings and practices of Islam. We will then examine the Sunni/Shiite split over issues of succession and authority and discuss Islamic mysticism, or Sufism, and the Sufi poetic tradition. Finally, we will turn to contemporary Islam and to Islam and other religions, including the Bahá’í Faith. With ongoing anti-Islamic sentiment throughout the world, there is no better time to improve our understanding of one of the world’s most important and influential religions and to prepare for discussing it with Christian and Muslim friends and neighbors.
Introduction to Shi'i Islam
Shoghi Effendi states that the Bahá'í Faith started as “a heterodox and seemingly negligible offshoot of the Shaykhi school of the Ithna-‘Ashariyyih sect of Shi‘ah Islam” (God Passes By xii). He also says that Bahá'ís “must strive to obtain, from sources that are authoritative and unbiased, a sound knowledge of the history and tenets of Islam--the source and background of their Faith” (The Advent of Divine Justice 75: 74). In this course we will focus on Shi‘ism and, especially, on the Ithna-‘Ashariyyih (or Twelver) school of Shi‘ah Islam. We will also examine the history of this sect and its distinctive teachings. In particular, we will look at the split into Sunni and Shi‘ah in Islamic history, the history and doctrine of the Imamate, the Twelfth Imam, and the developments in Shi‘ism (especially the Shaykhi movement) that led to the Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths. The primary text for this course is Moojan Momen, Introduction to Shi‘i Islam (George Ronald or Yale University Press, 1985); new and second-hand copies can be obtained from Amazon, and second-hand copies, from ABEbooks and AddALL.com.
The Bahá’í Faith: A Comprehensive Introduction
The Bahá'í Faith: A Comprehensive Introduction offers a thorough and systematic study of the Bahá'í religion. We will start with a review of the vastness of the Bahá'í Faith's authoritative texts (21 million words), which sets it apart from other religions. In subsequent units we will examine the fundamental concept of unity and its implications for creating community, reforming the world, and re-conceptualizing such subjects as leadership, politics, and conflict; the nature of God, revelation, manifestation, humanity, creation, religion, and the Bahá'í Faith's relationship to other faiths; the nature and spiritual development of human beings and the role of marriage and family life; and the Bahá'í approach to reorganizing the social life and civilization of the human species. In the historical section of the course we will examine the development of the Bahá'í community from the time of the Báb (1844) to the present, considering the development of new Bahá'í institutions and the Faith's focus on several important priorities: diversity, geographical spread, and empowerment of the membership.
Philosophy and the Bahá'í Faith
In Philosophy and the Bahá'í Faith, we will explore the relationship between the Bahá'í teachings and many eternal human questions, such as metaphysics (the system of principles underlying a particular study or subject), religion and spirituality, epistemology (how we know something), ethics, social philosophy, aesthetics and self-expression, and the philosophy of law, education, politics, love, and humanity.
Science, Religion, and the Bahá’í Faith
Science and religion are “the two most potent forces in human life” according to Shoghi Effendi (http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/PB/pb-1.html). In Science, Religion, and the Bahá’í Faith, we will explore how science and religion relate to each other. The Bahá’í Faith, is “scientific in its method.” Essential elements of the methods used in the sciences to explore our world can be applied to spiritual reality. We will examine the Bahá’í writings as they relate to physics, cosmology, biology, and evolution and consider perspectives they inspire with regards to climate change. Finally, we will explore the call by the Universal House of Justice for the systematic development of communities through a culture of learning and discuss effective ways to apply the principle of the harmony of science and religion in our communities and in our discourse.
Interfaith Dialogue and Collaboration
At a time when the “world devouring fire” of religious fanaticism is spreading, while, simultaneously, increasing numbers of people consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” the need for people of Faith to engage in fruitful interfaith dialogue is growing. In Preparing for Interfaith Dialogue we will explore how participants can engage in dialogue with people of all religions and none, respectfully and in a learning mode. Inspired by Bahá’u’lláh’s call to “Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship,” we will draw on Bahá’í and other resources to learn about theoretical and practical aspects of interfaith dialogue. We will also look at the importance of public discourse about the role of religion in society.
Bahá’í Theology: Concepts of God, Revelation, Manifestation, Creation, Humanity, Afterlife, and Covenant provides an in-depth study of the fundamental teachings of the Bahá’í Faith that deal with the study of God, creation, and the relationship between them. The units are organized around a series of topics such as creation and evolution, the nature of God’s Manifestations and their revelations, religious ethics, and theology in action. This course is ideal for both Bahá’ís and others who want to delve more deeply into the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith.
Chair: Chitra Golestani, firstname.lastname@example.org
The department explores the application of the Bahá'í teachings to the various problems of society.
Anti-black Racism in the U.S. and Building a Unified Society
This course will examine anti-black racism and racial prejudice in American society in some of its most serious manifestations, explore the content and significance of relevant Bahá'í authoritative texts, and consider how Bahá'ís can initiate meaningful conversations and public discourse in a variety of contexts. It will explore definitions of race, racism, and prejudice, and examine such subjects as colonialism and slavery; the prison industrial complex; Black Lives Matter and policing issues; white privilege and bias/stereotyping; segregation, gentrification, and reparations; black women and social justice; and the Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately, participants will acquire tools to apply this knowledge to Bahá'í community life and to use it in social-action projects.
Race Unity: The Role of Persian Americans
This online course is designed to raise the capacity of the participants to understand racial justice and unity, identify the role of Iranian American Bahá’ís, and contribute to building race amity through community building activities, social action and social discourse. This course will examine racial justice and unity in the U.S. from a Bahá’í perspective. Ultimately, participants will acquire the capacity to apply this knowledge to their personal and collective lives. We offer a diversity of thoughts, but do not endorse or advocate specific views of individual authors.
Three areas of capabilities this course will focus on are:
1. Define the problem/issues (knowledge)
2. Understand the Bahá'í approach to building racial justice and unity (spiritual insights)
3. Gain skills for building race amity, community building and contributing to discourse (skills for service)
This course features weekly Zoom sessions hosted by our faculty members. There will be one Zoom session in English language, and another in Persian. At the same time, you can log in to our course website at any time, day or night, to read the weekly course materials and watch the course videos, most of which will be provided in both English and Persian.
Climate change is a major issue of our times. The nations of the world, in the Paris Agreement of 2015, have committed to keeping global warming well below a dangerous level, although they are far from being on track to do so. Despite partisan political debate, the defiance of vested interests, and distorted public perceptions, the science is unequivocal that global warming is real and is caused by human activities. The recent evidence is alarming. Climate change is not only a scientific but a deeply spiritual and ethical challenge. This course on Climate Change provides a basic scientific understanding of the causes and impacts of climate change, discusses its ethical challenges, and relates them to the spiritual teachings of the world’s religions, particularly the Bahá’í Faith. It will help you consider changes in your lifestyle to bring greater coherence to your life and show you how to incorporate environmental and social responsibility in Bahá’í core activities and community gatherings. It elevates public discourse above partisan politics by introducing spiritual responses to the climate crisis and demonstrating how the harmony of science and religion can be applied for the well-being of humankind. The course includes many optional resources for those who wish to delve more deeply into climate-change issues.
Bahá'í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food
Bahá'u'lláh described agriculture as a "a vital and important matter" that was foremost among the principles "conducive to the advancement of mankind and to the reconstruction of the world” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas 90, 89). Yet current agricultural policy often prioritizes yield and profit over health, sustainability, and sociocultural features of rural communities, while the poor struggle to even feed themselves, and climate change makes farming increasingly unpredictable. These and other factors threaten food security. In Bahá’í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food, we will examine the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith on agriculture, food, and rural development; relate these teachings to contemporary public discourse on these issues; and suggest ways in which agricultural activities can be incorporated into core activities, community-building, and emerging social action.
Sustaining 11 Billion People: Challenges for an Ever-Advancing Civilization
Baha’u’llah stated that, “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.” Based on the book ELEVEN, this course investigates issues and principles involved for individuals, communities, and institutions in contributing to a sustainable civilization with 11 billion people, the UN population projection for 2100. Given that civilization is already unsustainable, what changes are needed to ensure that humanity can advance with an additional 4 billion people? Key to this process will be an ethical revolution that will reinforce efforts to reduce humanity’s ecological footprint by seeding a new global culture. Sustaining 11 Billion People: Challenges for an Ever-Advancing Civilization shows how the principles and plans of the Baha’i Faith directly address these fundamental concerns.
World Peace: The Bahá'í Perspective
In 1985 the Universal House of Justice issued The Promise of World Peace, the first in a series of ground-breaking documents which addressed humankind's situation and needs. Thirty-one years later the message enshrined in The Promise of World Peace, known to many as "the Peace Message", is as cogent and urgent as ever. The world is increasingly embroiled in conflict, whether "hot" or "cold". Conflicts over territory, conflicts surrounding nationalist ambitions, conflicts that claim religious inspiration, tribal conflicts, conflicts of all kinds increasingly involve terrorist organizations, fundamentalist religious and ideological groups, nationalist groups, and so on, and are ever more intractable. As the Universal House of Justice wrote in 1985: "Whether peace is to be reached only after unimaginable horrors precipitated by humanity’s stubborn clinging to old patterns of behaviour, or is to be embraced now by an act of consultative will, is the choice before all who inhabit the earth. At this critical juncture when the intractable problems confronting nations have been fused into one common concern for the whole world, failure to stem the tide of conflict and disorder would be unconscionably irresponsible." Much progress has been made in seeing the challenges facing humanity as "one common concern for the whole world", but, sadly, the governments of the world and the United Nations have failed to stem "the tide of conflict and disorder". In our study of The Promise of World Peace we will consider what changes have taken place in the world situation since 1985, for good and for ill, and we will familiarize ourselves with the document's themes and arguments so that we can draw on them in our contributions to public discourse and our conversations with those we encounter in our daily lives. We will learn to think positively as we recall the words of the House of Justice: "Far from signalizing the end of civilization, the convulsive changes towards which humanity is being ever more rapidly impelled will serve to release the 'potentialities inherent in the station of man' and reveal 'the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality'."
Building a New System of Global Governance
As humanity passes through stages of collective growth and moves toward integration and unity, it finds itself caught in the thick of many painful and seemingly intractable challenges that mark a turbulent adolescence--crises such as the Covid-19 global pandemic, climate change, economic recession, proliferation of nuclear weapons, gross human-rights atrocities, and mismanagement of critical natural resources. In Building a New System of Global Governance, we will examine how we can solve these and similar problems using ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s advice offered a century ago about establishing collective decision-making and implementing institutions that can and should evolve into a world federation of nation-states.
We will also explore the linkages between the creation of a new system of global governance and Bahá'u'lláh's promised Lesser Peace relying on recent guidance from the Universal House of Justice that illuminates this subject. In addition, we will explore the lessons we can usefully glean from the American experience of establishing a federation as well as from Europe’s ongoing experiment as it moves toward deeper integration. Finally, we will learn how to respond effectively to skeptics who argue that creating a global federation is a pipe-dream because nations will never be willing to cede sovereignty, and we will equip ourselves with ways to allay fears that such a move will lead to an abusive world government that is so excessively centralized that it will not heed the voices of diverse populations and minorities and will trample upon their rights.
Educating Through the Bahá’í Revelation:
Developing the Gems of Inestimable Value
The goal of this course is to introduce learners to the guidance contained in the Writings of the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith on education and to implement activities in formal and informal educational settings. Through a structured study of both Bahá’í and secular sources, learners will increase their understanding of the unique wisdom found in the Bahá’í Faith as it applies to both the education of children and the lifelong learning of everyone. Topics include defining the meaning of education from the Bahá’í perspective, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's "Four Criteria of Comprehension," combining material, human and spiritual education, and promoting education that unifies in secular or morally challenging environments. This course will appeal to educators at every level of experience. Learners will engage in conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive learning activities which will provide tools to address social action and social discourse methods in order to improve education and society.
Economics and Community Building
Economics and Community Building is designed to prepare learners to take action in community-building and economic development. We will analyze the world's economic conditions through an in-depth study of the Bahá’í Writings and recent letters from Bahá’í institutions, as well as secular sources, and plan strategies for implementing their guidance to develop economic activities with moral and spiritual foundations. Topics include the economic significance of justice, economic well-being and prosperity, the impact of oneness on economic life, village and community economics, and applying the learning from the course.
Economic Justice in a World of Injustices
The topic of economics is vast and complex. It is commonly assumed that the economic health of a society is accurately represented by indices such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and that the human experience is all but irrelevant. Many people are intimidated by economics and some view it as problematic to the forward progress of humanity and the planet. In this course, however, we will view economics and economic justice from a totally different perspective: through the lens of distributive justice. According to the Bahá’í Writings, economic progress is perpetuated by justice. Issues of economic justice are fundamentally about the ethics and moral foundation of income distribution. Distributive justice is often considered not to belong to the scope of economics, but there is actually an important body of literature in economics that addresses normative issues in social and economic justice.
Promoting Moral Excellence in Business
Offered in collaboration with the Baha’i inspired organization ebbf (Ethical Business Building the Future, ebbf.org), Promoting Moral Excellence in Business allows learners to explore and redefine the fundamentals of a new business and management paradigm founded on revolutionary spiritual and moral principles drawn from the Baha’i Revelation. To provide a contrast, we will first review current understanding of business ethics and then challenge commonly held assumptions in business and management. We will take time to rethink the purpose of business, examine the meaning of such spiritual and moral values as unity, justice, nobility, and service, and explore how these values and operational principles such as consultation apply in a business environment. We will then explore groundbreaking concepts of leadership, power, and corporate governance. Audience: The course should be of interest to anyone interested in starting a business, improving their business, transforming their work environment, providing innovative and transformational consulting services or sharpening their social entrepreneurship skills.
Bringing Consultation to the Workplace
Offered in collaboration with the Bahá’í inspired organization ebbf (Ethical Business Building the Future, ebbf.org), this course aims at assisting participants to utilize the process of consultation to develop effective and high performing work teams built on the foundational assumption that unity is the key to excellence and success. The Bahá’í Writings unequivocally describe a consultative process as the most effective instrument for decision making. The implementation of guidance from the Bahá’í Writings is necessarily a learning process.
This course will address the prime requisites for members of a consultative team (including the alignment of values and effective communication skills), developing agreement on a set of rules for effective team consultation (including a shared framework and the respective roles of the team leader and team members), and the implementation of the consultation-action-reflection cycles. Participants in the course will explore how Bahá’í consultation may be presented to colleagues, how to distinguish it from other decision-making practices, and what are effective steps for incorporating it into business operations.
Cultivating Transformative Leadership Part 1: Transformation of Understanding
What does “leadership” mean, once it’s been stripped of the mindset of domination? How do we go about transforming ourselves and the social environment we find ourselves in? Since its initial formulation 25 years ago, Transformative Leadership has been applied in education, health, youth programs, community development and in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations in five continents. The course questions existing mental models of human nature, society, and leadership that impede progress toward a just, united world community, proposing an explicit, principle-based framework that can bolster cooperative action in teams, organizations and communities. The course is open to all and is especially useful to those who are involved in social action or participating in the discourse of society.
Cultivating Capabilities of Transformative Leadership
Building an ever-advancing civilization calls for action imbued with concepts, skills, attitudes, and qualities that contribute to personal transformation and positive social change. People from all backgrounds, cultures and traditions long for a world filled with justice, peace, and unity. The world is tired of words. Cultivating Transformative Leadership, Part 2: Developing Capabilities, the second course of the Transformative Leadership series, offers participants continued collaborative support in the development and application of the 18 capabilities of the conceptual framework. We develop and use these capabilities to enhance our personal transformation, improve relationships, and contribute more effectively to social transformation.
Requirement for Participation: To have studied and applied the first 4 chapters of Transformative Leadership: Developing the Hidden Dimension either through completing the Wilmette Institute course “Cultivating Transformative Leadership” or an equivalent study. In case of doubt regarding equivalent studies, consult with the faculty.
Social Change: Bahá’í Approaches
This course considers some of the most controversial issues of the day -- politics, economics, human rights, the environment -- and what can be done about them from the point of view of the Bahá’í Faith. It provides an overview of the Bahá’í perspective on the nature, purpose and evolution of society; the role of the individual, the community and its institutions in carrying forward an ‘ever-advancing civilization’; and the value of social action. Each unit provides an introduction to the Bahá’í texts and principles on the topic, the tools used by Bahá’ís to translate these into their own thinking, social discourse and action, and case studies of the implementation of these at the grassroots. It examines the Bahá’í view of history, its understanding of the role of religion in social evolution, its conceptualization of the direction of social progress and how the Bahá’ís are engaging in social action at present, using the tools of education and training, reflection, service to humanity and consultation. Course participants will be encouraged to make use of what they learn in the conversations they have with others and as they participate in public discourses in spaces such as interfaith meetings or meetings or conferences of civil society organizations. Individual units look at power, politics, governance and law; economics, work and business, poverty eradication and wealth; human rights, gender equality; justice, eliminating prejudice; the environment; unity, peace, development; education, service to humanity, consultation.
Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind
Many people are troubled by the poverty and suffering of people at home and abroad, concerned about the future of their children, and worried about the destruction of the environment on which their lives depend. These are the challenges of sustainable development, requiring a fundamental transformation in the economic, social and environmental actions of our lives and society. This course will explore the profound implications for sustainability of our higher human purpose, as explained in the Bahá'í teachings, and the scientific and spiritual principles that can ensure the future prosperity of humankind. Today the nations have agreed on Sustainable Development Goals with detailed targets and indicators that define how to reach sustainability by 2030, leaving no one behind. We shall explore the concept of sustainability in all its dimensions, and how only an ethical and spiritual transformation as defined in the Bahá'í authoritative texts will motivate people to transform their individual lifestyles and their local communities as essential steps towards a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable future.
The section offers courses that help people express their understanding of the Bahá'í Faith in prose, poetry, commentary, music, painting, and other arts.
The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh: Two Lives, One Story
In The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh: Two Lives, One Story, we will delve into the dramatic story at the heart of the Holy Anniversary years 2017 and 2019. From Shiraz to Tabriz, from the affluent courtyards of Tehran to the prison-city of Acre, The Story of Bahá’u’lláh: Promised One of All Religions, the text for the course, brings to life the story of the Twin Manifestations at the origin of the Bahá’í Faith: the Báb (“the Gate”) and Bahá’u’lláh (“the Glory of God”), each with a distinct but connected mission. The Story of Baha’u’llah unfolds in two parts. Part One: The Dawn introduces Bahá’u’lláh in Tehran and interweaves events in the life of the Báb and His principal disciples, basic facts about Islam, and millennial expectations of Christians. Part Two: The Sun in Its Splendor recounts the dramatic events of life in exile for Bahá’u’lláh and His family, together with highlights of His writings and the emerging significance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The Bahá’í Faith and the Arts
In The Bahá’í Faith and the Arts we will explore the purpose of the arts from a Bahá’í perspective. Among other topics, we will discuss how art and religion have harmonized and conflicted in the past; how the Bahá’í dispensation will be similar to and different from the past; the artist as a person with an important gift to share with the world; and how the Bahá’í writings encourage artists. We will also consider how to reframe imagination, creativity, and risk-taking within a Bahá’í context; how to prioritize the positive aspect of creativity to enhance our lives, our communities, the Bahá’í Faith, and the future; and how to develop a serviceable language about the arts that enables us to integrate the arts more fully into Feasts, Holy Days (particularly the 2019 bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb), core activities, commemorations, and so on and to include more people in art making and appreciation of the arts.
The Arts and Community Building
The Arts and Community Building is based on Jenina Lepard’s book, The Fashioner: Reflections on the Role of Music and the Arts in Building a Global Community. We will take a theoretical look at the role of the arts in society and in the Bahá’í Faith specifically as well as a practical look at how we can utilize various arts in core activities, feasts and holy days, and other aspects of Bahá’í life. During the final two weeks of the course, learners will complete a final project based on their own ideas for incorporating the arts in at least one core activity.
Gifts of the Spirit: The Spiritual Practice of Creative Writing
In this course, students will work one on one with a mentor who is a published author and experienced editor to design and complete a creative project in the form of poetry, fiction, a personal essay, or a memoir. In preparation for embarking on this project, students will explore various practical and aesthetic questions relating to writing, such as 1) how should one approach creative work as a writer? 2) what is the relationship between writing and spiritual practice? 3) what kinds of subjects should one choose to write about? 4) how should one use language? 5) what is the role of the writer in the community? and 6) how does one live a productive writing life? The goal of this course will be to complete a literary project and also to understand what kind of work must be done in order to achieve publication. Some of the work produced in this course may be considered for the online journal of the arts at http://www.elixir-journal.org.
Writing About the Writings: The Art and Craft of the Personal Reflection Piece
In the past, the practice of exegesis, or drawing the meaning out of scriptural texts, has been the province of scholars specially qualified to produce scholarly commentary. In Writing about the Writings: The Art and Craft of the Personal Reflection Piece, however, students will engage in a different kind of exegesis with the goal of writing a more informal and accessible kind of commentary that does not require scholarly background—the personal reflection piece. The assumption behind the course is that all readers have a share in the multiplicity of meanings, which, according to `Abdu'l-Bahá, are embedded within scripture. The purpose of the course is to empower readers of Bahá’í scripture to share their insights into the Bahá’í writings in the context of the personal reflection piece, a form of commentary that does not employ the conventional apparatus of scholarship, such as research, critical analysis, and familiarity with other commentary on the same texts but, rather, simply embodies the individual reader’s thoughtful response to a given passage, tablet, or longer work by the Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, or`Abdu'l-Bahá. You will learn the art and craft of writing such a personal reflection piece by receiving instruction from faculty as well as feedback from fellow students.
The Seven Valleys and the Arts of Transformation
The focus of this course is on exploring personal and spiritual growth through creative expression. The course is designed to use the arts to explore and develop the learner’s understanding of spiritual development as presented in Bahá’u’lláh’s The Seven Valleys, which describes states and stations of spiritual evolution. Success in this course is dependent on the active participation of the learners through artistic postings, commentary, and discussion. Its process is experiential, for personal rather than artistic development and is not purposed toward producing or performing artistic works. No artistic background or experience is needed for participation in the course.
The Four Valleys and the Hidden Words: An Arts Perspective
As a companion course to The Seven Valleys and the Arts of Transformation, The Four Valleys focuses on exploring mystical writings through creative expression, following an experiential process of weekly artistic postings of concepts found in The Four Valleys and selected Hidden Words. However, while The Four Valleys also focuses on the process of spiritual development, it does so from the perspective of four different approaches to this process: “They that seek to ascend to the heaven of mystic wayfaring are of four kinds only.”
The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys through Creative Arts Exploration
The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys through Creative Arts Exploration focuses on studying Bahá’u’lláh’s The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys through creative arts expressions such as drawing, writing, photography, crafts, music, and/or dance: both for those with background in the arts and for those with interest in but little or no experience in this approach. The Seven Valleys focuses on spiritual development and transformation, while The Four Valleys also focuses on the process of spiritual development, but from the perspective of four different approaches to this process: “They that seek to ascend to the heaven of mystic wayfaring are of four kinds only.” Also Included are short articles and videos presenting similar concepts found in diverse cultures.
Each week, the learner will be responsible for reviewing readings and videos and then creating artwork inspired by ideas and images presented, through the process of artistic exploration, rather than through intellectual or academic discussion. At the end of the course participants will be asked to create an artwork or activity that summarizes what they have learned and how this may be applied to other individuals and groups.
Film as a Tool for Public Discourse: Race and Gender
Films have the capability of doing more than just entertaining us; they provide a literal lens for us to see more intimately the world in which we live. They are an important means of cultural communication, highlighting shared human struggles and providing a space for us to pause and reflect on our place and purpose in the world. In some cases they even inspire a call to action, creating social impact.
As authors Robert K. Johnston and Catherine M. Barsotti note in their book ‘Finding God in the Movies’, film also has the power to stimulate or communicate theological reflection in the viewer. When we watch a film, we might listen for its message and then compare and contrast it with the message of the Word of God. What truth can we draw from the film and how might we engage others in a conversation about that truth? In this series of courses, participants will discover how films can be part of our toolbox to engage with others in two-way meaningful conversations about the discourses of society, with a focus on the search for Truth.
This first course in the series focuses on race and gender. The teachings of Baháʼu'lláh, Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, emphasize both the oneness of humankind and the equality of women and men, noting that all have a purpose in contributing to the advancement of society. Yet, we find that in the world’s current adolescence women and people of color continue to face barriers in their attempt to make their rightful contributions. The films reviewed in this course highlight the history of social practices that have continued to result in oppression, create awareness of our implicit biases, promote racial amity and gender parity and help to heal and transform our hearts and minds. Through this powerful form of visual storytelling, we are given the opportunity to learn about one other’s lived experiences and overcome our prejudices, leading to the formation of genuine bonds of friendship, engagement in meaningful conversations and unifying together as agents of change, walking a path of service towards a more socially just society.
Film as a Tool for Public Discourse: Moving Beyond Us and Them
This second course in the series focuses on moving beyond us and them and highlighting narratives that perpetuate differences that lead to divisive discourse and taking sides, relating to race; culture and ethnicity; gender; religion; politics; economic status; age, ageism, and generational differences; educational level; unhealthy competition; pandemic-related divisions (vaccine/anti-vaxxer, mask/anti-masker), as well as narratives that counter the assumptions behind the divisions of humanity and honor our oneness, true human nature and inherent nobility. We’ll be looking at the example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and how He envisioned moving towards greater unity and embracing the Oneness of Humankind.
The section explores aspects of Bahá'í community life and administration in order to help improve one’s understanding of them and develop skills to improve their functioning and effectiveness.
The Badi' Calendar
The Bahá'í Faith has a unique calendar of 19 months of 19 days each, plus 4 or 5 days of Ayyam-i-Ha to bring the length of the year up to a full solar cycle. Through this calendar, “sacred moments are distinguished, humanity’s place in time and space are reimagined, and the rhythm of life recast.” The Universal House of Justice, in a letter dated July 10, 2014, has called “upon the Bahá'ís of the East and West to adopt . . . the provisions that will unite them in the common implementation of the Badi‘ calendar.” The House of Justice has also fixed the start of the year on the first day of spring as it occurs in Tehran. In The Badi‘ Calendar we will consider the purpose and nature of calendars in general, the organization of the Bahá'í calendar (created by the Báb and called the Badi‘ calendar), the spiritual significance of the names of “the periods and cycles, months and days” in the calendar, and the purpose and timing of Bahá'í holy days. We will also compare the Bahá'í calendar to the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic calendars.
How to Collect, Arrange, Maintain and Promote a Bahá’í Archives
Organized by the United States National Bahá'í Archives and taught by three Bahá'í archivists, How to Collect, Arrange, Maintain and Promote a Bahá’í Archives will introduce local and national Bahá'í archivists to principles that will help them to organize and maintain their collections. Registration for the course is open to local and national Bahá'í archivists (and to others only by permission of the National Archives). The course will include activities requiring access to archival materials in a Bahá'í archives. Two units will cover basic archival principles; the acquisition, arranging, and processing of records and personal papers, including electronic records; nonpaper materials, including digital assets; reference services; exhibits; quarters for housing archival materials; and preservation. Another unit will involve your working on an archival project: either a survey of your archives or advanced work on a project of your choosing. A final unit will guide you through a final report and proposal to your Local or National Spiritual Assembly.
An Excellent and Priceless Heritage: The Three Covenants of the Bahá'í Faith
This course will be an exploration of the three successive Covenants in this Dispensation. We will first examine the Covenant of the Báb which prepared the way for Bahá'u'lláh. This will be followed by a study of Bahá'u'lláh’s Covenant establishing 'Abdu'l-Bahá as His Successor - a Covenant which He described as “an excellent and priceless Heritage.” Then we will make a careful examination of what Shoghi Effendi termed “the twin Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and of 'Abdu'l-Bahá” – so closely integrated that he referred to “their Book” and “their Will”. The last part of the course will focus on how these twin Covenants establish the Universal House of Justice as Head of the Faith. We will study the emphatic promise of divine guidance “that blessed, sanctified and all-subduing body” receives from the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh; examine the sacred documents granting it broad authority; and through the assurance in these documents develop greater confidence in following its guidance, and learn to never be swayed by any challenges posed to its sphere of authority or to its guidance.
Bahá'í Institutions, the Community, and the Individual
Every society has three “protagonists”: the individual; the community; and the institutions of government and civil society. These protagonists are all too often in conflict, pursuing their own interests, rather than acting for the well-being of all. But the Bahá’í community is learning--with the guidance of the Universal House of Justice--about a new conception of the protagonists and the transformation of their relationships to ones “characterized by cooperation and reciprocity.” Through this course we will study the nature of the three protagonists, their roles and relationships. Enriched by our deeper understanding, we will be better equipped to play our parts in the building of the new civilization envisioned by Bahá'u'lláh.
Section Head: Wendi Momen (email@example.com)
The section offers courses on personal change, spirituality, and more.
Creating Unity through Friendship and Laughter
Do you sometimes feel your life and the life of the community are a bit too intense and serious? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encourages laughter, story-telling, friendships, and social connection, even in the middle of challenging circumstances. Come enjoy learning how to deepen friendships, have fun together, extend hospitality, share humorous stories, take a lighter approach to difficulties, and more. Open to individuals, groups, couples, friends, families, and communities. We encourage groups to form to study this course, which could be a couple, some friends, or a family, even those scattered geographically. All ages over 11 are welcome, provided those under 18 have an email address and are accompanied by an adult. Please invite your friends!
The Six Requisites of Spiritual Growth
Bahá’u’lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá in His talks and Tablets. One can summarize them briefly in this way:
1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.
2. The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.
3. Prayerful meditation on the Teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfill them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.
4. Striving every day to bring our behavior more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.
5. Teaching the Cause of God.
6. Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession.
Praying Together: The Devotional Gathering
Praying together is a natural part of human life and has deep roots in the world’s religious traditions. This course explores, from a Bahá’í perspective, how people from any background gathering together to worship God can enhance the devotional character of a neighborhood, evoke the spirit of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and enable individuals to ‘experience the sweetness of prayer, meditate upon the Creative Word, be transported on the wings of the spirit, and commune with the one Beloved’, as well as generating ‘feelings of fellowship and common cause’, and fostering ‘spiritually heightened conversations that naturally occur at such times and through which the “city of the human heart” may be opened’. The course also helps us learn how to invite our friends to attend a devotional gathering and, in due time, to accompany them as they host their own.
Building Resilience: Meeting Tests and Difficulties
This course will help us to build our resilience to the everyday challenges of life, the tasks that appear to be monumental, the situations that really try our patience, the problems and difficulties that arise for many people. We will look at meeting such tests in light of the Bahá'í teachings, exploring the Bahá'í perspective on the nature and purpose of tests, the sources of tests, how to become resilient through preparing ourselves for difficulties, the spiritual qualities we develop through tests and how we can use them to meet the next challenges in our life, some of the specific challenges that arise at different stages of life, and how the lessons we are learning through the training institute process not only assist us to become resilient but also enable us to contribute to the society-building efforts of our localities.
Please note: The course does not provide therapy for those who may need professional assistance.
Following the Example of `Abdu'l-Bahá
The Universal House of Justice described the son of Bahá’u’lláh, who established the Bahá’í Faith, as the ‘magnetic figure of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant, the Mystery of God, the perfect Exemplar, Whose unerring interpretation of the Holy Texts and luminous examples of their application to personal conduct shed light on a way of life we must strive diligently to follow’ (The Universal House of Justice, Ridván 1987).
This course explores some examples of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s application of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to the way of life we are diligently striving to follow. His whole life was one of service to humanity and the aspects of His life examined in this course reflect the different ways He gave that service. In each unit we look at His life through a different lens – teacher, social worker, philanthropist, farmer, businessman, statesman, peace builder, and community builder – without reducing His generous life to its parts, so that we may discover for ourselves how we might live a coherent life.
Youth Section Coordinator: Jessica Lani Kamál Kerr (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The section offers courses for youth and junior youth.
Transformative Leadership for Youth (Ages 11-17)
Transformative Leadership is a new conceptual framework based on 6 elements that nurture our understanding and attitudes toward service-oriented leadership and includes 18 capabilities that help us better personal, interpersonal and social relationships. It develops skills and tools to better direct our own lives and at the same time help us contribute to an ever-advancing civilization. Inspired by the principles and teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, Transformative Leadership is a framework for social action that promotes a culture of cooperation, ethical principles and scientific evidence, which is motivated by the search for truth, attraction to beauty and thirst for knowledge.
This 8-week online seminar will integrate the shared-model of Transformative Leadership that releases individual and collective society-building power with multimedia art. Students will use materials from the Transformative Leadership for Youth workbook, and learn basic photography skills and multimedia art techniques as they are empowered to develop their relationship with the world around them when motivated by the desire to “be the change” they “wish to see in the world.”
Being the Change: Cultivating Capabilities
Transformative Leadership is a new conceptual framework based on 6 elements that nurture our understanding and attitudes toward service-oriented leadership and includes 18 capabilities that help us better personal, interpersonal and social relationships. It develops skills and tools to better direct our own lives and at the same time help us contribute to an ever-advancing civilization. Inspired by the principles and teachings of the Baha’i Faith, Transformative Leadership is a framework for social action that promotes a culture of cooperation, ethical principles and scientific evidence, which is motivated by the search for truth, attraction to beauty and thirst for knowledge.
This online seminar is for Youth who took the course Y005 "Transformative Leadership for Youth." The course will continue to integrate the shared-model of Transformative Leadership that releases individual and collective society-building power with multimedia art. The Youth will be empowered to develop their relationship with the world around them when motivated by the desire to “be the change” they “wish to see in the world.”
Releasing Society-Building Powers of Youth
Releasing Society-Building Powers of Youth: A Framework for Social Action seminar is the third seminar in the Transformative Leadership for Youth program. This seminar is for youth 11-17 years who desire to contribute to the betterment of community through the application of material and spiritual principles through service-oriented leadership. We will continue to apply 6 elements and 18 capabilities of the Transformative Leadership Conceptual Framework that empower personal and social transformation and will integrate multimedia art in an expression of transformative learning while engaging in guidance and resources that promote Baháʼí-inspired approaches and methods being applied in community building initiatives throughout the world.
Youth will develop and, if desired, initiate grassroots social action initiatives by forming collaborative creative groups, elaborating principle-based vision, identifying elements and capabilities that will support efforts and will deepen on the dynamic role and society-building power of youth for today.
This session will have a special emphasis on the Baháʼí-Inspired approach to social and economic development while engaging in study and application of concepts and principles of social action and societal discourse. Youth will become familiar with past and recent guidance from national and world Baháʼí and Baháʼí-inspired institutions as well as community organizations that promote the material and spiritual progress in society.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Light to the World
As the world progresses toward the stage of a unified global civilization, it is essential for the youth of today to further cultivate a world embracing vision. Known to Baha’is and friends of the Faith as the perfect example of the teachings and principles of the Baha’i Faith, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of Bahá’u’lláh, serves as inspiration of purity of character, enlightened knowledge and love inspired action to mankind.
As stated by Shoghi Effendi, “He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá’u’lláh’s peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá’í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá’í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God, the Being “round Whom all names revolve,” the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the Most Great Peace, the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy Dispensation—styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Light to the World, will give an introduction to His life, His words and His actions that will support Youth in their twofold moral purpose of personal trans- formation and the ability to contribute to the betterment of society through social action and discourses in society. Participants will explore ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey to the West and engage in reflections on His life and service through a multitude of publications. Ultimately, Youth will be introduced to the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, articles and resources sharing His mission and purpose.
Diverse art projects designed to support learning will be integrated throughout the seminar. Participants will be invited to create and share finished projects in observance of the 100th year** of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing. **2021
Some Answered Questions: Illumined Youth
Youth 11-17 years old are invited to join Some Answered Questions: Illumined Youth seminar and “unravel the mysteries of the mind and spirit” through the study of 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s answers to a variety of questions asked by Laura Clifford Barney while visiting 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Akka. Questions relating to the spiritual and material upliftment and progress of humanity founded on an unfettered search and investigation of reality were posed to ‘Abdu’l-Baha during 1904 and 1906.
Youth from around the world will study themes on the Influence of Manifestations of God on the Evolution to Humanity, a wide variety of questions on Christian Subjects, the Powers and Conditions of the Manifestations of God, the Origin, Condition and Powers of Man and Miscellaneous Subjects including; The Reality of the World of Being, The Four Criteria of Existence and The Unity of Existence, just to mention a few. All of which will foster and nurture powers of expression in societal discourse and service-inspired leadership through social action.
Some Answered Questions is one book that, according to Shoghi Effendi, “will reveal the significance of this divine revelation as well as the unity of all the Prophets of old” in support of cultivating knowledge, volition, and steadfast action through personal and social transformation.
In addition to the study of Some Answered Questions, youth will have an introduction to Bahá’i inspired Social and Economic Development and have the opportunity to develop and strengthen diverse multimedia art skills with a special emphasis on planning youth outreach and creating art for the upcoming worldwide observance of the 100th year passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on November 27th, 2021.
Extension or Continuing Education Courses. Admission to Wilmette Institute extension or continuing education courses does not require an application process. All people, from high school age on are welcome to register for our extension courses (which are not credit bearing).
Certificate Programs: Wilmette Institute accepts students regardless of their race, ethnic background, nationality, or religion (see more in our Non-Discrimination Policy). When we have an agreement with another higher education institution, their policies apply. For our individual credit-bearing courses and certificate programs, the following process applies.
Auditing Certificate Courses: An individual can inquire to audit a certificate course with the Registrar via the Institute website or direct email query (email@example.com). If space is available, the prospective student would be invited to register and complete the application process. Preference for enrolment is given in the following order: 1) current certificate students, 2) students attending affiliate Wilmette Institute colleges, universities, and high schools, 3) students approved by their own colleges, universities, and high schools to take external courses from Wilmette Institute, 4) U.S. citizens and residents from the general public who are over 18 years old.
Credit Transfer: If students want to take an individual credit course and transfer the credit back to their institution of higher education, they will need to fill out a basic information form, submit an image of their student ID, and provide the contact information of their school so that the Institute can verify the school will accept our transcript for credit. The decision to accept the credit is determined by the receiving institution.
English Language Requirement: Our admissions form in the Populi Student Information System asks whether English is the student’s native language or whether they have taken a higher education degree in English, and if not, to submit a copy of any English language proficiency test they have taken. If they don’t have an existing proficiency test, they can take a Duolingo proficiency test (minimum B2 level) or any other widely recognized English language proficiency examination, that compares to a score in the B2 range of the international standard, the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR).
Academic Requirements: Certificate Program applicants must have a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree, or be enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree program and submit an official transcript as evidence, or must first complete one of the courses for the certificate for credit with a grade of at least 75% before being accepted to the program. Our mission statement states that we wish to serve everyone able to take our courses regardless of their background. Our certificate program is open to anyone able to complete it, and if they have no college degree they can take one of our courses and complete it to demonstrate their ability to complete the program. Such students will also be flagged for extra support from the certificate program coordinator and the course faculty. Our programs are relatively inexpensive and we do not accept federal financial aid, so students cannot accumulate a large student debt. This approach aligns with our mission to provide learning experiences for a diverse student body.
The Student Handbook and this Course Catalog both state that the official transcript must be submitted during the admissions process. A student is allowed to take no more than one course prior to the transcript being accepted by the Admissions Office.
Applications to the certificate program must be received up to two weeks before the first course of the program is set to begin. Applicants will be notified by email of admission or denial into the certificate program up to one week after the application deadline.
Due to Wilmette Institute’s unique curriculum, it does acccept transfer credits from other institutions. All certificate students must complete the entire program at Wilmette Institute.
See also: Student Handbook
$225 per credit hour ($675 for a three credit course). Agreements with affiliate institutions may differ.
Application Fee: The Wilmette Institute charges a partially refundable application fee of US$50.00 for each course. This fee is rolled into the total fee of US$675.00 per course (3 credit hours @ US$225/credit hour) , and is due 7 days before the start of the course, or on enrollment into the course, if the student is registering late. Late registrations will be accepted up to one full week after the start of the course. If the student cancels their enrollment contract as permitted by law, the student will receive a refund of 50% of application fees ($25.00) for any courses that are in progress, unless cancellation is outside the course withdrawal period of 14 days from the start of the course. The Registrar may extend the grace period or the late registration deadline, or authorize a full refund, at his or her discretion.
Date of Determination of Withdrawal Percentage of Tuition Refunded
During the 1st and 2nd week of class 100% *
Between the 3rd and 5th week of class 60%*
After the 5th week of class 0%
*Less $25.00 (non-refundable portion of application fee)
Extension Courses (and university-level courses being audited)
20% off Seniors/
Date Adopted: 01.01.2022 Date Revised: 02.22.2022 Page of