Applications now open: Social Transformation Certificate Program--deadline 8 January, 2024
Carrying Forward an Ever-Advancing Civilization

Contributing to Public Discourse and Social Action for a Sustainable Future

Social Transformation
7 weeks
Weekly Study
Jul 22-Sep 8
Register By
July 27, 2021

Note: This course was formerly titled "Sustaining 11 Billion People: Challenges for an Ever-Advancing Civilization." The content has been refreshed and updated, with a focus on social action and public discourse.

Bahá’u’lláh stated that, “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.” However, current environmental and social factors threaten the sustainability of civilization. The world’s population is expected to increase from 7.8 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050 and could peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100. Given that many experts believe civilization is already unsustainable at current population and consumption levels, what changes are needed to ensure sustainability with an additional 3+ billion people? Re-establishing religion as a potent society-building force, this course illustrates how creatively applying Bahá’u’lláh’s principles and the current plans of the Bahá’í community address these fundamental concerns.

The Universal House of Justice points to endeavors that include two interconnected areas—social action and the participation of individuals in the prevalent discourses of society. Together, the course participants investigate contemporary research and Baha’i sources, including the course textbook, ELEVEN, to read reality and facilitate natural stirrings at the grassroots of a cluster, locality, or neighborhood. This systemic process of the Bahá’í community’s involvement in the life of society augments the framework of simultaneously transforming individuals, communities, and institutions, contributing to an ever-advancing civilization.

Required Text

The book Eleven by Paul Hanley must be purchased for this course. It is available as a paperback or an ebook. Please use this link to choose where to buy it from.

What will you learn?
You will learn
To investigate major trends in contemporary society that contribute to the breakdown of the world’s social and ecological order.
To investigate the cultural roots of these trends.
To identify emerging positive trends with potential to solve social-ecological problems.
To develop an understanding that the state of the ecosphere is a reflections of humanity’s inner condition and relationships.
To engender a sense of hope that humanity has the capacity to build a just and sustainable world order and that our contributions to that process can be meaningful and effective.
To relate these issues to the analysis and vision of Bahá'u'lláh and the world-wide activities of the Bahá’í community.
To engage in consultation with course participants and others on appropriate behavioural changes, at the individual and community levels, that are practical and possible in today’s context.
To gain capacity to contribute in meaningful and effective ways to social action in our communities.
Meet Your Faculty
Paul Hanley
Author, Environmental Columnist

Although I was raised in a city, I became fascinated with agriculture as a youth and decided to “drop out” and become a smallholder farmer in Saskatchewan, Canada where I grew up. I helped form the first community land trust in Canada and lived on a self-sufficient, off grid farm... See Faculty Bio

Gary Reusche, PhD
Co-Manager, Virtues Project in Ukraine; Rural Development Specialist

Gary is a social and economic development worker living in Ukraine. Combining a PhD in agricultural science with an MBA in management, he managed projects in Central America, Africa, South Asia and the ex-Soviet Union. During the past 20 years, Gary used consultation in his work and teams. While working... See Faculty Bio

Neil Whatley, MA, P.Ag
Agronomist, Researcher

Neil, raised on a farm in Saskatchewan, has 35 years of experience working with farmers in crop-based agricultural education, applied research and rural community development. He has worked in Western Canada, West Africa and Latin America. Neil has particular interests in crop diversification, applying empowerment-based learning techniques with farmers, and... See Faculty Bio

Kimberley Naqvi, PhD
Lecturer/Instructor, Thompson Rivers University

My teaching and research focus is in the cultural basis of development and economic theory and practice, and analysing related urban and rural settlement, production, and consumption patterns. Whenever possible, I teach with both local and international context so that students evaluate their own perception of local and international geographies.... See Faculty Bio

Thomas Ponniah, PhD
Summer Lecturer, Harvard University

Thomas Ponniah was a Lecturer in Social Studies, Assistant Director of Studies, and Faculty Associate of the Project on Justice, Welfare and Economics at Harvard University (2003-2011). He is currently a Summer Lecturer at Harvard University, an Affiliate of Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and a Professor... See Faculty Bio

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