The Wilmette Institute was founded in 1995 to provide advanced, academic-level courses and information about the Bahá’í Faith. Its name refers to Wilmette, Illinois, where the Bahá’í House of Worship for North America is located. Its guiding principles are as follows:
*Universal peace and justice will be realized through a global consciousness of the oneness of humanity and the interconnectedness of the earth and all its inhabitants.
*Both science and religion are essential to building an ever-advancing civilization.
*Systemic social problems require a holistic approach to discover lasting solutions.
*Scholarship does not begin and end with words but combines theory and praxis in study, consultation, action and reflection.
*Sustainable social change requires the development of human capacity, in order for people to become protagonists of their own material and spiritual development
Because the Bahá’í Faith has no clergy, it has no programs to systematically train individuals to serve in authoritative roles. The Wilmette Institute seeks to provide accurate, reliable, in-depth information about the Bahá’í scriptures, Bahá’í history, and the Bahá’í teachings, especially as the latter relate to all fields of human endeavor, to any adult, of any level of education, whether a member or not. It started by offering non-credit courses, but has expanded to offer undergraduate and graduate-level courses on Bahá’í subjects and webinars exploring many Bahá’í topics in depth.
The Wilmette Institute is not yet accredited, but it has agreements with two schools where our courses can be taken for credit toward degrees, and seeks opportunities to collaborate with other institutions: United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities is a seminary of the United Church of Christ located in St. Paul, Minnesota. It offers hybrid courses (through their learning platform and Zoom). United offers a master’s degree in religious studies that focuses on the Bahá’í Faith, which allows students to take up to six courses through the Wilmette Institute on Bahá’í subjects.
The Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California, is a consortium of 8 religious studies schools (5 Protestant, 2 Catholic, 1 Buddhist), several Centers for Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim Studies, plus 5 affiliated “institutes” which include the Wilmette Institute. GTU maintains the central library of the entire consortium and has its own faculty, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. The Wilmette Institute runs 2 or 3 courses for credit every semester through GTU, which any of the students in the consortium can take.
Wilmette Institute Courses Designed for Undergraduate or Graduate Credit
Our courses have been accepted for credit by Hartford International University for Religion and Peace (formerly Hartford Seminary), two graduate schools, and two undergraduate colleges. At this time, the Wilmette Institute has developed the following courses for undergraduate and graduate credit. All of them are available as stand-alone courses for students seeking an understanding of the Bahá’í Faith:
Bahá’í History, Texts and Tenets
RL570: The Bahá’í Faith: A Comprehensive Introduction
PTH590: Introduction to Bahá’í Theology
HS305: Introduction to Bahá’í History
ST331: Introduction to Bahá’í Scripture 1: The Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
SC315: Non-Violent Approaches to Social Change
CA342: The Individual, the Community, and the Institutions
Please see the purpose statement, program outcomes, program requirements, and course descriptions on page 10 of the Course Catalog. Wilmette Institute will offer these courses as a certificate when it obtains accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
SC315: Non-violent Approaches to Social Change
SC322: Reconstructing Blackness: Anti-Racism and Unity in the US
SC330: Human Prosperity and Sustainable Development
SC355: Transformative Education
SC380: Cultivating Transformative Leadership
Please see the purpose statement, program outcomes, program requirements, and course descriptions on page 15 of the Course Catalog. Wilmette Institute will offer these courses as a certificate when it obtains accreditation.
The Wilmette Institute has been conducted webinars twice a month since 2015 and now has over 150 of them available on a wide range of topics (specific scriptural works, prominent Bahá’í figures, specific historical events, and webinars looking at climate change, sustainable development, world peace, international order, economic justice, anti-Black racism, and other subjects from a Bahá’í perspective). Our YouTube channel has nearly 6,000 subscribers and 600,000 views; everything on it is free and available for public use. The webinar playlist is visible on the home page. Many of them are suitable for classroom use. A typical webinar lasts 40-50 minutes, with 30-40 minutes of questions afterwards.
The Wilmette Institute is interested in developing 30 to 60-minute modules on various aspects of the Bahá’í Faith that would be available via the web for free and could be played at any time. The modules would come with a video, faculty notes, and suggested readings and questions that relate to the topic. We would welcome suggestions for modules we should develop.
The Wilmette Institute has close to 100 faculty. Browse through their bios to see their specialties and subjects of interest. Our webinar speakers are yet another pool of potential speakers. We will be glad to make recommendations to you and assist you to arrange for one of them to speak to your classes about the Bahá’í Faith. The vast majority of our faculty are familiar with Zoom and would not charge to make an appearance to your class.
We are available any time to answer research and bibliographic questions by telephone, email, or Zoom. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-wilmette toll free.
The Wilmette Institute stands ready to be your “Bahá’í Studies Department” at any time.