The Lamp, volume 3 Number 1
A Newsletter Produced by the Wilmette Institute
Volume 3, Number 1, January 1998
In early December Dr. Robert Stockman, Academic Coordinator of the
Wilmette Institute, traveled to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for four days of
fascinating talks with the Board of Trustees and selected faculty of Núr
University. Established in 1985, Núr is a private university owned and
operated by a group of Bahá'ís. Currently it has over 3,000
students, over 200 part-time and full-time faculty, and a budget of over $2
million per year. Sixty Bahá'í students attend Núr's
undergraduate and Master's programs.
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Núr offers nine undergraduate majors and four Master's degrees, all of
which are oriented around development. "Development," however, is not defined
at Núr in a stereotypical "third-world development" fashion but in a
Bahá'í fashion: to create individuals who are devoted to
developing themselves and their society throughout their lives through ongoing
self-education and service to others. In short, Núr's definition of
development is applicable to a university education anywhere on earth.
Where most universities have "general education" requirements, Núr has
"development education" requirements instead: a language skills course, a
mathematics course, a course on development of the individual (mostly a
psychology course), a course on the development of the community, a course on
the development of the world over time (mostly a world history course,
including considerable study of the major religions), a course on the
environment and education (equivalent to a natural science requirement), and a
course on moral leadership and group dynamics.
After completing the seven development courses, the student completes courses
required for the major. Finally, there are two integrative courses--seminars in
which the student reflects on his/her education and ties it all together.
Students are also required to complete 120 hours of service work over their
four years of undergraduate education. The service program is student run; many
service projects are run by Núr students themselves; others are
conducted as part of a course (math tutoring as part of the math course),
personal projects, or service to one's church or other nonprofit group.
Núr is highly respected; in a recent government study of Bolivia's 27
private universities, only Núr and two other schools were placed in the
first rank as schools about which the government had no "observations." All
the rest ranked lower. Núr's curriculum is often imitated or even copied
by other schools.
Núr has not yet taught any courses on the Bahá'í Faith and
now wishes to do so. It especially wants to offer Bahá'í courses
that parallel as many of the "development courses" as possible. Those meeting
in Santa Cruz to discuss ways Núr and the Wilmette Institute could
collaborate were delighted, even amazed, to note that the Wilmette Institute's
Spiritual Foundations curriculum heavily overlaps the subjects of Núr's
develomental courses. The Wilmette Institute has modules on the development of
the indivdual and the community; its module on world religions and its module
on creation of global civilization overlap Núr's course on human history
and its course on the environment. Wilmette's skills development module
overlaps Núr's moral leadership and group dynamics course.
Clearly, therefore, both institutions can gain a lot in collaborating, for both
can develop and test curricular materials relevant to the other. Discussion
centered on creating course materials both institutions could use and possibly
creating courses together, which would be taught on both American continents or
offered jointly via the internet, with the Wilmette Institute handling
publicity and English-language faculty and Núr providing
Spanish-language faculty and university credit.
It will be some months before it becomes clear how the two institutions can
collaborate, but the foundation has been laid for a potentially fruitful
The New Registrar
The Wilmette Institute has hired a new registrar, Heather Gorman.
Heather is an undergraduate student at Harvard University interested in
majoring in religion and education. She is currently taking off a year from
school to consider her career options. She will remain with the Institute
through August, when she returns to Cambridge.
Lisa Roy, registrar for 1997, has completed her year of service and returned to
school. She sends fond good byes to the students and faculty she has had the
pleasure of working with and hopes to see some of them at the next residential
session of the Spiritual Foundations program.
Correspondence Course on the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh:
First Course Off to a Good Start
The Wilmette Institute's first correspondence course, The Revelation of
Bahá'u'lláh, 1853-68, began on December 28 with a full class of
86 students. Students represent five countries and twelve states. Twelve local
study groups were formed. These groups are expected to meet at least twice a
month to discuss the readings and homework assignments. The Wilmette Institute
Board hopes the members of these groups will work together to keep each other
motivated and aid the process of putting the knowledge gained to direct use in
The correspondence course on the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh,
1853-68, features an email list-server to help online students communicate and
a special textbook, a compilation of commentaries on the writings of
Bahá'u'lláh, which was created for this course. The course,
originally scheduled to last four months, was extended to six months to allow
students greater flexibility and more time to complete the course work.
During its first week of operation the listserver logged about sixteen
messages, or two a day. This suggests that the course will provide lively
discussion of Bahá'u'lláh's writings.
The next course, which is scheduled to begin in June, will cover the Akka
period, from 1868 to 1892. Although the two courses may be taken in sequence,
there is no requirement to do so, and they may be taken separately.
Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization Program
Registration Begins for Spiritual Foundations Program
Registration has begun for the 1998-99 session of the Spiritual
Foundations program. The Wilmette Institute will accept applications through
March 31, 1998.
The 1998-99 Spiritual Foundations program focuses on the Bahá'í
community and its organization. Relevant material in sociology and political
science will also be offered. The Bahá'í history module will
cover the period of time when the basic structure for the Administrative Order
was built by the Guardian (1921-57). The Bahá'í scripture module
will focus on `Abdu'l-Bahá's and Shoghi Effendi's writings related to
the Administrative Order and the Bahá'í community. The skills
module will cover consultation and other assembly and community development
skills. One focus of the module on teaching the Faith will be exploring the
relationship between the individual and the institutions in bringing about
entry by troops.
The program begins on May 1, 1998, with home study. The three-week summer
residential session (which is required) will run from Saturday morning, July
18, through Saturday night, August 8. Additional home study begins on September
1, 1998, and ends in April 1999.
For more information or an application form, please call the Wilmette
Institute's automated 24-hour information line at 847-733-3595 or the Institute
directly at 847-733-3415. E-mail may be sent to
Homework Three Postponed
Foundations for a Global Civilization program, "The Individual and the
Family," has been rescheduled to give the students more time to complete the
remaining homework. This homework section, taught by Mary K. Radpour, was to go
out to students in mid-December but, instead, was sent in January.
An informal survey of students suggests that, in general, the homework is not
too long or hard, but that participants are having difficulty managing their
time and finding a strategy for completing the assignments.
Discussion at a recent meeting of the Executive Board centered on the crucial
nature of the homework. It was agreed that good participation in the home study
is the only way that the program will meet its goal of raising up knowledgeable
and articulate teachers and administrators of the Bahá'í Faith.
One Board member noted that coming to the residential session is important but
that one cannot become knowledgeable about the Bahá'í writings
without studying them for oneself. The Board hopes that students will turn to
their mentors and fellow students for assistance and guidance and will discover
creative ways to find the time necessary to complete the assignments.
The Wilmette Institute office is currently accepting recommendations for ways
to improve the home study material to make it more relevant and convenient to
complete without sacrificing learning standards. If you have suggestions or
comments, please call, mail, email, or fax them to the Wilmette Institute.
New Financial Software Installed
For the past several months the Wilmette Institute has been converting
its financial data from paper files into new computer files. The process has
involved a self-audit, as numbers entered into the computer were closely
examined and cross-checked. The 1997 Spiritual Foundations students will note
this change in the new professional look to the statements that were sent out
to them at the end of December and also in the Wilmette Institute's ability to
look up a student's balance and past payment details quickly and accurately.
The Wilmette Institute hopes that the new technology will also aid in student
registration next summer, help with budgeting, and increase overall precision
of financial records.
The Wilmette Institute is accepting applications for a coordinator for
its summer session, July 18-August 8, 1998. The person must be mature,
deepened, and responsible; have excellent communications skills; be able to
reside in the dormitory all three weeks; and be experienced at advising
students, providing deepenings, and coordinating events. The person should
arrive at least a week early to help with registration and setting up the
dormitory. The Institute will cover transportation to and from Wilmette,
housing, and meals, and provide a modest honorarium. The coordinator will be
able to attend some classes. A mature couple would be ideal for the job. For
more information contact Robert Stockman at 847-733-3425 or
Roberta Bruns Interviewed on NPR
Roberta Bruns was extremely busy for a week in mid-January. The ice
storm in Maine knocked out the power to her house and much of her town for over
a week. She was worked at a local shelter and checked on the people she assists
through the meals-on-wheels program. She was even interviewed on National
Public Radio about her work. But home was no place of rest, because she had an
electrical generator, and her family took in many people who didn't. Dinner
time saw an average of 25-30 people sitting down to eat in the Bruns home!
Charlotte Gallagher has a good reason not to be completing her homework on
time. She went to Haifa on pilgrimage, then traveled to South Africa. We're
looking forward to hearing her account this summer.
The Graduate School of America Accredited
According to Dr. Bruce Francis, President of the Graduate School of
America, the North Central Association Review Committee has granted a five-year
accreditation to TGSA. On September 22 the Review Committee met in Chicago with
the leadership of TGSA. The Committee recommended that the Commission adopt the
NCA visiting team's recommendation for accreditation. The Wilmette Institute
extends its congratulations to TGSA for achieving accreditation with such speed
and relative ease. In the United States it is very difficult and can be very
expensive for a new educational institution to achieve accreditation.
Dr. Mark Rossman, Vice President for Academic Affairs of The
Graduate School of America (TGSA), has announced the formation of a psychology
program at TGSA. TGSA students may now apply for enrolment in M.A. and Ph.D.
programs in Psychology. This new degree program will be available to Wilmette
Institute students who wish to follow a multidesciplinary program combining
their studies in the Spiritual Foundations program with the study of
Dr. Brian Austin, formerly Chair of the Psychology program at Walden
University, has accepted a full-time appointment to develop and chair the new
The Executive Board of the Wilmette Institute will be meeting
with the heads of Bosch, Green Acre, and Louhelen in late January to discuss
ways the four institutions can cooperate to establish a collaborative learning
system. A conference call in October led to an agreement that the four schools
have a lot to gain through collaboration. Particularly important are ways the
four can jointly create university-level courses on the Bahá'í
Faith, which will involve defining standards and establishing a mechanism for
recording who took what courses.
Habib Riazati Discusses The Tablet of One Thousand Verses
There are two different tablets known as the Lawh-i-Hizár BaytR
(Tablet of One Thousand Verses). Revealed by the beloved Master, together they
are close to 100 pages in length.
The first one was revealed in year 1314 A.H. (1896-97) in response to questions
asked by Mírzá Abul-Fadl Gulpaygání concerning the
reasons for Covenant-breaking when both the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and the Book
of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh clearly sets forth the issues
relating to His successorship. This tablet, which is over thirty-two pages long
will help us to understand the nature and the reasons for Covenant-breaking.
Moreover, it emphasizes the most fundamental aspects of Covenant-Breaking,
which is being trapped in the Kingdom of Names and be chained by the desires
The second tablet called Lawh-i-Hizár Baytí (Tablet of One
Thousand Verses) is close to sixty pages in length and was revealed in the year
1315 A.H. (1897-98) in honor of Jalíl-i-Khú'í.
Jalíl was the one to whom Bahá'u'lláh revealed the
Lawh-i-Ishráqát (Tablet of Splendors) in his honor. After
the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh Jalíl became one of the
agents of Jamál-i-Burújirdí, the most prominent among the
covenant-breakers in Iran. The Beloved Master counsels Jalíl to recalls
those days when he (Jalíl) was in the presence of both
Bahá'u'lláh and the Master and was the recipient of their great
This tablet is extremely important because it helps us understand the
distinctive features of the Covenant in the dispensation of
Bahá'u'lláh. This tablet helps us to understand a great many
details of the issues that we see in the Master's Will and Testament. This
tablet, moreover, gives us a better understanding of the passage in the Tablet
of the Temple, "this is a Day which is not followed by night."
Another one of the most distinguishing feature of this tablet is that it helps
us understand the statement of the Báb in the Persian Bayán
concerning the simultaneous existence of both the letters of affirmation and
the letters of negation (báb 4 of vahíd 2) in all the religions
of God including His own revelation. In fact, the content of this tablet helps
us understand the passage in the Tablet of Salmán concerning the fact
that in all the dispensations of the past the Letter of negation has preceded
that of affirmation. While in this revelation (the Bahá'í Faith)
Bahá'u'lláh has taken out the letter of negation, meaning that
the enemies of the Cause of God, particularly the Covenant-breakers, will not
be able to dominate the Cause by their negative opposition. The Master explains
over many pages that the existence of some passages in Aqdas and mainly the
Kitáb-i-Ahd guarantees what Bahá'u'lláh has mentioned in
both Tablet of Temple and the Lawh-i-Salmán.
One of the most common themes in these tablets is the matchless statements of
the beloved Master concerning His servitude to the threshold of
Bahá'u'lláh. In one instant, the Master indicates that
Bahá'u'lláh has the highest station of Godhead and majesty that
is possible for one to imagine and He (meaning the Master) has on the other
hand the highest station in servitude to Bahá'u'lláh (that is, no
one can ever come close to the degree of the selflessness and servitude that
the Master possessed). He also mentions that His name, His Essence, His
Objective, His Majesty, His highest inspiration is nothing other than being
The Haj Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund has scheduled its ninteenth
"`Irfán Colloquium" for November 6-8, 1998, at Louhelen
Bahá'í School. `Irfán is an Arabic and Persian word
referring to mystical, theological, or spiritual knowledge.
The theme of the colloquium will be the Bahá'í Faith and world
religions. It will also include a colloquium on the revelation of
Bahá'u'lláh, 1863-68 (Istanbul and Adrianople periods).
Presentations should be thirty minutes in length. If you would like to present
on either subject, send a 500-word abstract and a brief (100-word) bio to the
Research Office, Bahá'í National Center, Wilmette, IL 60091;
847-733-3425; 847-733-3563 (FAX); firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail). The deadline for
submission of proposals is July 1, 1998. Wilmette Institute students are
encouraged to submit abstracts, and a special student session may be scheduled
if there is sufficient demand.
Housing and meals will be available through Louhelen. For more
information, contact Louhelen or the Wilmette Institute.