“Truth, Beauty and Goodness: Three Interconnected Aims and Means of ‘True Education'”

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Watch on YouTube: Web Talk
View/Download PDF of Slide Show
Cotten, G. (2017). The Role of Authentic Communication in Moral Development and
Transformative Education: Reflections on a Case Study
. The Journal of Thought, 51(1&2), 47-64.

In this webinar, Glen Cotten will discuss how transformative (i.e. “true”) education can be usefully conceived of as a process of authentic dialogue and inquiry aiming for truth, beauty and goodness, a view of education with philosophical roots in the Socratic notion of educare, and that harmonizes with teachings related to education found in the Bahá’í Revelation and the pedagogical principles identified by holistic educators and the developers of FUNDAEC (e.g. perhaps the most successful and influential Bahá’í-inspired educational project to date). He will also emphasize the importance of integrating the pursuits of truth, beauty and goodness (pursuits which in traditional western education are normally separated) in education to most effectively promote individual and social transformation.

Specifically, the webinar will 1) briefly review how the terms truth, beauty and goodness have been understood and approached in western philosophy, 2) review some of what the Bahá’í Writings tell us about “true education”, 3) consider how the terms truth, beauty and goodness might be usefully re-conceptualized and re-integrated, and 4) examine some of practical implications for curriculum design and pedagogy.


Glen Cotten’s decades-long study, action-research and practice of “transformative education” has included his studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (where he earned a Master of Education degree in 1994) and at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (where he received a Ph.D. in education in 2007), his exposure to the learning of the developers of FUNDAEC while serving in the Office of the International Teaching Centre from 1998 to 2001, and over 15 years of experience designing and teaching, while systematically applying principles of transformative education to his practice, courses in ESL, EAP, Education and Service-Learning in North Carolina community colleges and at universities in Turkey and China (including most recently his work as an EAP and service-learning lecturer at New York University Shanghai for the past four years).

His dissertation consisted of a case study of a successful, Bahá’í-inspired community development/diversity workshop at a US high school, and the findings of this study reveal how experiencing “authentic communication and dialogue” across socio-cultural divides had a powerful, morally transformative effect on workshop participants, and more deeply how such communication/dialogue stems from and further amplifies the innately human spiritual impulses to seek truth, beauty and goodness. Glen presented on the latter topic at the 2018 Association for Bahá’í Studies conference in Atlanta and the 2016 meeting of American Educational Research Association, and his related publications so far include articles published in The Journal of Thought and Community Works.

As a child and adult, Glen has lived and later worked in diverse parts of the world including the US, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam, El Salvador, Haiti, Kenya, Israel, Turkey and China. His endeavors to promote  transformative education are ultimately inspired by the deepest passion of his life, his relationship with Bahá’u’lláh, and the systemic learning he has gained, on his own and in dialogue with friends, regarding the ways in which transformative education can be effectively fostered through devotional meetings, study circles, firesides, gatherings and retreats, and other forums/spaces for meaningful conversation/dialogue is directly connected to the themes of this webinar.