October-December 2009 Online Courses


Mining the Gems: Development of the Individual
Lead Faculty: William Huitt
Faculty: Rodney Clarken

Duration of course: Three months (Oct. 1 - Dec. 31, 2009)

In this course we will explore a central concern of all religions and a fundamental challenge for the advancement of civilization: the development of the individual through the life cycle. We will discuss physical, mental, emotional, moral, social, and, above all, spiritual development, thus looking at body, mind, and soul. We will examine insights into the development process found in the laws, metaphysical teachings, and mystical writings of the Baha’i Faith as well as in psychology. The course aims to make theory concrete by offering general advice personal transformation.


Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind
Lead Faculty: Arthur Lyon Dahl
Faculty: Peter Adriance, Sheila Flood, Melinda Salazar, and Daniel Truran

Duration of course: Three months (Oct. 15, 2009 - Jan. 15, 2010)

There is wide agreement about the need to achieve sustainable development, but its profound implications for human society are poorly understood. This course provides, from a Baha’i perspective, a general introduction to sustainable development and its goal, the prosperity of humankind. Its objectives include teaching us how to think about sustainability by integrating both the material and spiritual dimensions of life into a long-term perspective and how to apply that thinking to questions of everyday life and lifestyle.

In the course’s first unit we will survey the origins and definition of the concept of sustainable development as endorsed by world leaders. Then, in Units 2, 3, and 4, we will review both the economic, social, and environmental issues that humanity faces in achieving sustainability and the spiritual principles that can help us find solutions; our discussions will range over many problems, from the financial crisis to climate change. In Unit 5 we will examine perspectives for the future—both those that show the unsustainability of the present system, including constraints that limit women's contributions, and the need for fundamental change, contrasting them with the Baha’i vision of a new world order leading to the prosperity of humankind. In the final unit we will look at the importance for sustainable development of education, reinforced with spiritual values, as the basis for helping each of us to detach ourselves from Western materialistic civilization, to reexamine our lifestyles, and to begin to live more sustainably in accordance with the Baha’i teachings.

This course has been prepared in observance of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–14).



Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue
Lead Faculty: Phyllis Chew
Faculty: Theo Cope and Anne Pearson

Duration of course: Three months (Nov. 1, 2009- Jan. 31, 2010)

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 Baha’i teachings. By studying Chinese thought and values, Baha’is should obtain a greater appreciation of the Baha’i Faith and acquire experience in relating the Faith to Chinese people in an informed and respectful manner.



How to Study the Baha'i Writings
Lead Faculty: Sandra Hutchison
Faculty: Richard Hollinger

Duration of course: Three months (Dec. 15, 2009 - Mar. 15, 2010)

How to Study the Baha’i Writings is one of four basic courses offered by the Wilmette Institute. It is designed to introduce students to a method of studying the Baha’i scriptures systematically by using a number of literary and exegetical tools. In the course students will study selected passages from Baha’i scripture through nine “windows” of meaning that may be thought of as nine windows onto divine wisdom:

Language (understanding the literal and figurative language of Baha’i texts)

Theme (identifying the themes in a passage and relating them to the work as a whole)

Structure (analyzing the overall structure of the work)

The Work (learning how to approach an unfamiliar work, finding the work’s subject, and finding authoritative guidance about the work’s significance)

Oeuvre (placing a work by Baha'u'llah in the context of His revelation)

Biography (placing a work in the context of Baha'u'llah’s life)

The Times (placing a work in the social, historical, and political contexts in which Baha'u'llah revealed it)

Literary Tradition (comparing a work with works of literature written in the same genres and forms)

Scriptural Tradition (locating a work in the larger universe of world scripture)

Through learning to read carefully, with attention to figurative language, theme, and the place of the work in Baha'u'llah’s revelation and in His life and times, as well as in the larger world of scriptural and literary traditions, students will develop tools for analyzing any Baha’i text systematically.

How to Study the Baha’i Writings will use selected passages from the Bahá'u'lláh’s Hidden Words and `Abdu'l-Baha's Secret of Divine Civilization. Each of the course’s units will focus on a different “window” onto divine wisdom.






$150 Individual
$300 Study Group (312 members)
$120 Senior (65+)
$120 Full-Time University Student
$120 International Pioneer

For more information, see


News, Student and Otherwise

The Wilmette Institute on Facebook

The Wilmette Institute now has 274 ”members” on Facebook! Please join us there so you can follow our nearly daily postings and participate in discussions about Baha’i education. If you are on Facebook, in the upper right corner of many Facebook pages is a search field. Type “Wilmette Institute” in the box, and you will find our page, where you can view the page and become a member. Do you have any ideas about what the Wilmette Institute should/could do on Facebook? We welcome suggestions.

The Impact of the Wilmette Institute:
Contributing to Interfaith Dialogue in Brazil

Dr. Simin Jalali Rabbani, a learner in the Wilmette Institute’s recent course on Preparing for Interfaith Dialogue, used material from it to give an hour-long presentation on the Faith this summer at Catholic University of Pernambuco as part of a program sponsored by the Baha’i community of Recife. Pernambuco is a Brazilian state in the northeast of the country; Recife, its capital, has over 1.5 million people; the university has 15,000 students. Afterward, the Pro-Rector of the Catholic University of Pernambuco, Miguel Martins Filho, wrote the National Baha’i Information Office in Brasilia as follows (translation supplied by Dr. Rabbani):

Dear Friends: Yesterday I participated in an event here at the Catholic University of Pernambuco, offered by the Observatory of Religions, of the Masters course in Science of Religions. The Baha’i community did a presentation of their way of living and their vision of the world. It was such a great consolidating experience to me. I am a Jesuit priest, currently working at the Catholic University. I was very impressed by the simple way of the Baha’i Faith, proposing, in fact, a new posture, before the religious experience, of the transcendent. I pray that your message reaches more and more people. May this harmonious spirit, beautiful and real reaches all, for more Glory of God.


The Impact of the Wilmette Institute: A Regular Source of Informal Community Deepening

Cheryl Crane of Petersfield, Manitoba, Canada, reports:

I have registered for the Century of Light course and now have two free courses which I will use in the future. . . . It is unbelievable how much these courses have helped my community—sharing what I have learned has become very important in my community life and my enthusiasm for these courses has infected others so that they are considering taking some of them. I presented a course on the Hands of the Cause [of God] this summer and used material from the Women in the Baha'i Faith course. One Baha'i challenged my knowledge about a certain topic, and I was able to produce the paper from this course which I had quoted. It was great to give information that no one knew about and at the same time be able to give proof of my statement. Keep up the good work of educating us, and we'll keep promoting you.

The Wilmette Institute was established in January 1995 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. The Institute offers quality online courses on the Baha'i Faith. It is committed to engaging a broad and diverse international community of learners in deep study of the Faith and to fostering love for study of the Faith.

All online courses include Web-based forums for students and faculty, systematic study plans, and a wide variety of aids to help students apply their learning in their local communities.

Information from the eNewsletter may be copied or reproduced, provided that the following credit is given: "Reprinted from the eNewsletter of the Wilmette Institute," followed by the issue's date. Recipients are encouraged to forward it to friends. If you have questions, please email us at info@wilmetteinstitute.org.

Upcoming Courses

October 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009:
Mining the Gems:
Development of the Individual

October 15, 2009 - January 15, 2010:
Sustainable Development and the
Prosperity of Humankind

November 1, 2009 - January 31, 2010:
Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue

December 15, 2009 - March 15, 2010:
How to Study the Baha'i Writings

January 15, 2010 - April 15, 2010:
The Tabernacle of Unity

February 1, 2010 - Apr. 30, 2010:
Islam for Deepening and Dialogue

February 15, 2010 - May 15, 2010:
Charters of the Faith: The Tablet of Carmel, the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha,
and the Tablets of the Divine Plan

March 15, 2010 - June 15, 2010:
Building the Fortress:
Marriage and Family Life

April 1, 2010 – June 30, 2010

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

April 15, 2010 – July 15, 2010

Science and Religion

May 1, 2010 – July 31, 2010

Buddhism for Deepening and Dialogue

May 15, 2010 – August 15, 2010

Baha'u'llah's Revelation: A Systematic Survey



Wilmette Institute, 1233 Central Street, Evanston, IL, 60201-2886 USA
Phone 1.877.WILMETTE (1.877.945.6388) - Fax: 1.847.733.3563
Email: info@wilmetteinstitute.org - Web: www.wilmetteinstitute.us.bahai.org

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National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States | 1233 Central Street | Evanston | IL | 60201