Schedule

8:00am Coffee, Refreshments, Sign-In
8:45am Introductory Remarks
9:00am Session 1: Finding Meaning in Life
10:30am Break
10:45am Session 2: Ethics and Values
12:15pm Lunch
1:45pm Session 3: Communities in Action: Leaders Speak Out
3:30pm Break
3:45pm Session 4: Communities in Action: Workshop
5:45pm Concluding Remarks
6:00pm SUGGESTED post-conference activity: Dinner on your own with your newfound friends and partners in social action!

Panel Sessions

Session 1: Finding Meaning In Life
(9:00am-10:30am)

Panelists:

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer
Dr. Julien Musolino
David Bryce Yaden

Moderator:

Will Storrar

Panelists will discuss multiple questions:

  • What is a purposeful life?
  • What values drive us to endeavor towards certain goals and not others?
  • What is consistent with our sense of self?
  • Are human connections important in developing meaning?
  • How do we act mindfully?
  • What is meaning with or without a god?
  • Is there a fundamental meta-narrative that unites us and instills hope and courage?
  •  How do undiscovered mysteries about ourselves (consciousness and the idea of self) and the cosmos relate to novelty, change, inspiration, spirituality, and creativity?
  • What is the importance of human advancement and progress?
  • What is defined as human progress?
  • What is the role of suffering?

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Session 2: Ethics and Values
(10:45am-12:15pm)

Panelists:

Arun Gandhi
Hugh Taft-Morales
Declan Mulhall
John Sivalon

Moderator:

Will Storrar

Panelists will discuss multiple questions:

  • What is the source/reason for ethics and morals from secular and sacred points of view?
  • How can one be good without god?
  • What do sacred texts get right about morality?
  • How do we increase compassion and empathy, reconciliation, and forgiveness?
  • Are there absolutes? How does moral relativism or situational ethics work?
  • How does one judge an act? How do we codify and enforce moral behavior?
  • How do we deal with a diversity of passionate opinions?
  • Scientifically, what are the roots of morality in our evolutionary past?

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Session 3: Communities in Action:
Leaders Speak Out
(1:45pm-3:30pm)

Panelists:

Nadia Hassan
Anne Klaeysen
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer
Anthony Pinn
Roy Speckhardt
Sarah Spengeman
Chris Stedman
Gretta Vosper
Bart Worden

Moderator:

Will Storrar

Leaders from a variety of theist and nontheist community-based and national groups speak about their experiences, successes, challenges, how they meet the needs of their members, how they engage in social activism, in what ways they cooperate on programs with those of different belief traditions.

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Session 4: Communities in Action: Workshop
(3:45pm-5:45pm)

Facilitators:

Nadia Hassan
Anne Klaeysen
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer
Anthony Pinn
Roy Speckhardt
Sarah Spengeman
Chris Stedman
Gretta Vosper
Bart Worden

Moderator:

Will Storrar

Facilitated by panelists, attendees will lead discussion and problem-solving groups on specific topics of social activism related to the conference that interest them.

  • How do we become the change we want to see in the world?  
  • What goals do we have in common? (For example, human rights, equality, hunger, health, environment, poverty)
  • What do we tackle first?
  • How can we work together?
  • What are current worthwhile projects?
  • How can someone get involved?

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Speakers

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President Emeritus of Interfaith Alliance, is recognized as a leading advocate for protecting the boundaries between religion and government. Among his present duties, he serves as Senior Pastor of Northminster Church in Monroe, Louisiana, host of the national radio show “State of Belief,” Senior Adviser for Interfaith Alliance, and member of the Advisory Committee for the Council on Foreign Relations.  His past leadership roles include member of the General Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, President of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Chair of the Pastoral Leadership Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100.  He is the author of over 20 books.

Arun Gandhi

Born in 1934 in Durban, South Africa, Arun is the fifth grandson of Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi.  Arun shares his grandfather’s lessons of nonviolence through speaking engagements around the world, including at the United Nations, the Trade Union Leaders’ Meeting, the Scottish Parliament, and many more. Together with his wife Sunanda, he also started projects for the social and economic uplifting of the oppressed, changing the lives of more than half a million people in over 300 villages. He has also worked for thirty years as a journalist for The Times of India, and is the author of several books, including A Patch of White, M.K. Gandhi's Wit & Wisdom, and The Forgotten Woman: The Untold Story of Kastur, the Wife of Mahatma Gandhi.

Nadia Hassan

Nadia Hassan is the program coordinator at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances (IOICA). Prior to joining ISNA, Nadia organized the Villa Park Peace Coalition as a means to counteract islamophobia in Orange County after a heinous anti-Muslim protest shocked the city of Yorba Linda, CA.  Her personal experience with Islamophobia has allowed her to redirect her talents toward writing, education, public speaking, and empowering women. In her public life, she mentors Muslim youth, advocates for under-served women and victims of domestic violence and firmly speaks out against bigotry, injustice and religious intolerance. 

Anne Klaeysen

Anne Klaeysen is clergy leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, Ethical Religious Life Adviser at the Columbia University, Humanist Chaplain at New York University, and co-Dean of The Humanist Institute. She was also the first Humanist Chaplain at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY and Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island from 2002 to 2008.  She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling from Hebrew Union College.

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, PhD, launched Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s department dedicated to multifaith studies in the late 1980s and has pioneered innovative ways for RRC students to study sacred texts with their Christian and Muslim counterparts, including the study of the relationship between science and religion as part of multifaith studies. Kreimer is on the advisory board of the new Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and serves as a founding board member of Clergy Beyond Borders. She is a past president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association; she also was a member of the RRA Ethics and Executive Committees and a board member of the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life. She blogs at www.multifaithworld.org and at the Huffington Post, and she is the author of Parenting as a Spiritual Journey among other volumes in the fields of interreligious dialogue, religion and social science, and Jewish thought.

Dr. Declan Mulhall

Dr. Declan Mulhall teaches Quantum Mechanics, Statistical and Thermal physics, Intro to Nuclear and Particle Physics, Modern Physics and its lab, E&M lab, and General Physics courses at the University of Scranton. His research interests include theoretical nuclear physics, and quantum chaos in the nucleus. He is a member of the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA), the American Physical Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Dr. Mulhall is also the organizer for the Kane Competition and moderator for the Physics Club. He is an organizer, with the office of research services, of the research seminar series, a forum where university faculty can learn more about each other’s research. In his spare time, he grows oriental lilies, argues about philosophy, and worries about physics.

Dr. Julien Musolino

Julien Musolino is a Franco-American cognitive scientist, public speaker, author, and associate professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where he holds a dual appointment in the Psychology Department and the Center for Cognitive Science. Born and raised in France, Julien studied at the University of Geneva, in neighboring Switzerland, the University of North Wales, Bangor, in the United Kingdom, the University of Maryland, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous scientific articles, and is regularly invited to give lectures in the United States and around the world. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Julien has appeared on national television, his work has been discussed in popular magazines, and he has been a guest on radio and podcast programs in the United States and abroad.

Anthony Pinn

Anthony B. Pinn received his PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University.  He is currently the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religion at Rice University.  Pinn is the founding director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning also at Rice University.  In addition, he is Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies. He is also a member of American Humanist Association’s Board of Directors. Pinn’s research interests include humanism and hip hop culture.  He is the author/editor of thirty books, including Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better AtheistThe End of God-Talk:  An African American Humanist Theology, and the novel The New Disciples.

John Sivalon

Following ordination John Sivalon was assigned to the Africa Region of the Maryknoll Society. During his time in Tanzania he was appointed Justice and Peace Coordinator for the Religious Superiors Association of Tanzania. After finishing his studies at the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto, Ontario, he returned to Tanzania. He continued as a member of the faculty of the Department of Sociology at the University of Dar es Salaam from 1991 to 2001.  In 2002, he was elected General Superior of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.  After his term, he joined the faculty at the University of Scranton’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies as a Visiting Associate Professor.  He is the author of God’s Mission and Postmodern Culture: The Gift of Uncertainty.

Roy Speckhardt

Roy Speckhardt has served as executive director of the American Humanist Association since 2005. He is a frequent media commentator, having appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, among others. He also writes a regular column for the Huffington Post, and has given speeches at colleges, conferences, and local humanist groups across the country. Speckhardt also serves on the boards of the Institute for Humanist Studies, the United Coalition of Reason, the Humanist Institute, and the Secular Coalition for America Education Fund. He served as deputy director of the Interfaith Alliance from 1995 to 2001. He is the author of Creating Change Through Humanism.

Sarah Spengeman

Sarah Spengeman, PhD, is the Policy Education Manager for NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby founded by Catholic sisters in 1971 and located in Washington DC. At NETWORK, Sarah creates programs and materials to help educate and mobilize a community of activists around the country to work for social justice at the federal level. Sarah earned her doctorate in political science, specializing in Christian political thought, at the University of Notre Dame. She taught politics and philosophy for five years in California at a Catholic high school, community colleges, and in San Quentin prison.

Chris Stedman

Chris Stedman is Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community, a former Harvard University chaplain, and an alumnus of Interfaith Youth Core. In 2012, Beacon Press published his book Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the ReligiousDetails magazine named Chris one of “five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion’s status quo” and Mic dubbed him “the millennial who’s busting every stereotype about atheists.” He has appeared on CNN, msnbc, and Fox News, and written for publications including Salon, CNNmsnbcUSA Todaythe Huffington Post, and the Washington Post.

Will Storrar

William Storrar is the Director of the Center of Theological Inquiry. Prior to this, he held the Chair of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh, during which he directed the university's Centre for Theology and Public Issues. He is an Extraordinary Professor of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, a Magnusson Fellow and Visiting Professor of Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK, and an elected member of the International Academy of Practical Theology and the American Theological Society. His publications include the co-edited volumes: Public Theology for the 21st Century and A World for All? Global Civil Society in Political Theory and Trinitarian Theology. He is a Distinguished Advisor to the Global Network for Public Theology and a Salzburg Global Fellow. He chairs the editorial board of the International Journal of Public Theology, and serves on the editorial boards of theological journals in Germany and South Africa. He is an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland.

Hugh Taft-Morales

Hugh Taft-Morales is currently the leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia and the Baltimore Ethical Society. He serves as Vice President of the National Leaders Council of the American Ethical Union, as editor of the AEU’s Ethical Action Report, and is a faculty member of the AEU Lay Leadership Summer School. Before transitioning into Ethical Culture Leadership, he taught philosophy and history for twenty-five years in Washington, DC.  He served on the Board of the Washington Ethical Society from 2002-2006, the last year as president. In April of 2009, he graduated from the Humanist Institute and was certified as an Ethical Culture Leader by the American Ethical Union in 2010.

Gretta Vosper

Gretta Vosper leads West Hill United, a United Church of Canada congregation located in Toronto and featured in the documentary Godless. Gretta is a Director on the board of The Clergy Project, founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity, and serves as a Governor of Centennial College. She is the author of With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important that What We Believe and Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief. Gretta’s work is further explored in the upcoming film Losing My Religion by Zoot Media.

Bart Worden

Bart Worden is the Executive Director for the American Ethical Union and the Clergy Leader for the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester. He currently serves on the boards of the Humanist Institute and the Institute for Humanist Studies. Bart also works with the Ethical Community Charter Schools (TECCS) with a study group to support the schools’ ethical education programs. Bart’s recent social justice efforts have focused on addressing bias and discrimination in communities in Westchester County, and he is a member of several civil rights organizations.

David Bryce Yaden

David Bryce Yaden is a research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the Positive Psychology Center and assistant instructor under the direction of Dr. Martin Seligman. He works in collaboration with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg of Thomas Jefferson University and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. He provides public health education and consulting with a focus on end-of-life care and stress management techniques at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center and serves as a Humanist Chaplain for Rutgers University. His research focus is on the psychology and cognitive-neuroscience of the varieties of self-transcendent and spiritual experiences, including potential applications as well as the theoretical and ethical issues resulting from this study.