Our Common Humanity: Reflections on the Reclamation of the Human Spirit

Jun 26, 2022
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The oneness of humanity is a biological fact, affirmed by more than a century of study in the natural sciences; it is an existential truth upon which all claims to human rights ultimately rest, and it is a feature of social reality that the integrative forces of history will no longer permit us to avoid. As an ontological truth, the oneness of humanity is embodied in those universal moral and intellectual capacities that define the nature and needs of the human spirit. In these remarks, which provide an overview of the themes that animate his most recent book, Our Common Humanity: Reflections on the Reclamation of the Human Spirit (2021), Professor Penn provides a rational Bahá’í-inspired account of what might be meant by the human spirit and links the development and refinement of the human spirit to the realization of that which is most noble in each of us.



Michael L. Penn

Dr. Michael Penn is Professor of Psychology at Franklin & Marshall College and is trained in the fields of clinical and experimental psychopathology. His research interests and publications explore trauma related disorders, the application of psychological research & theory to human rights, the interpenetration of psychology and philosophy, and the relationship between culture and mental health. Professor Penn is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has lived and lectured widely around the world.  For more than a decade, he served the UN Leader’s Programme, which trains Director-level United Nations officers in a variety of countries. He has also supported the Federal University of Brazil’s program for peace studies, has been a consultant on the advancement of women for Great Britain’s Secretariat for the Commonwealth of Nations, and has assisted with the government of Greenland’s initiative to reduce gender-based violence. In addition to numerous academic papers and chapters, he is the author, co-author, or co-editor of four books, including: Our Common Humanity: Reflections on the Reclamation of the Human Spirit, (2021); Overcoming Violence against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem (2003); Moral Trauma: An Analysis of Akrasia and Mental Health (2016); and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Human Rights and Human Dignity (2020). From 1998-2000 Professor Penn lived in Switzerland where he helped to design the UN-funded, “Education for Peace Project” that assisted the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina to overcome the effects of genocide. In 2004 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Administration by Governor Edward Rendell. Professor Penn was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1986, is a former Ford Foundation/National Academy of Sciences Fellow, a former Aspen Institute Wye Faculty Forum Fellow, is the recipient of several honors for teaching and community service, and was honored with the John Russwurm Award for Scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania.

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