The Lamp, volume 3 Number 1

The Lamp

A Newsletter Produced by the Wilmette Institute

Volume 3, Number 1, January 1998


Back to index for The Lamps

Collaboration with Universidad Núr

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.

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 relationship.


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 their communities.

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 wilmette_institute@usbnc.org.


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.


Help Wanted

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 rstockman@usbnc.org.


Student News

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.


External Relations


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.

New Degree Program at TGSA

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 psychology.

Dr. Brian Austin, formerly Chair of the Psychology program at Walden University, has accepted a full-time appointment to develop and chair the new Psychology program.

Wilmette Institute, Heads of Permanent Schools to Meet

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.

Studying the Revelation

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 for Leadership.

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 bounties.

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 `Abdu'l-Bahá.

Haj Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund

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); research@usbnc.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.
Back to Top of Page