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Staff Changes for 2023

Nov 30, 2022

The Wilmette Institute has much to be grateful for as it looks to its future in Bahá’í academics and education, and the capacities it hopes to develop in this new quarter of a century.  First and foremost, we wish to acknowledge the leadership of Dr. Robert Stockman, who tirelessly served with distinction for more than 22 years as the Wilmette Institute Director. At the close of this calendar year, Dr. Stockman will step down as its Director, and continue to serve on the executive committee with Mr. Jeff Albert, Director of Education and Schools at the Bahá’í National Center, and Dr. Chitra Golestani, Associate Director of the Institute.

The search and appointment of a new Director will ensue in the new year with Dr. Stockman transitioning January 2023 into the role of Dean of the Wilmette Institute’s academic programs of History, Texts, and Tenets, focusing particularly on relations with religious studies departments and seminaries such as Graduate Theological Union and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. In addition, he will continue to coordinate the extension courses pertaining to Bahá’í history, authoritative texts, theology, and other religions.

WI Executive Team, December 2022

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Robert Stockman, ThD

WI Dean, Bahá’í History, Texts and Tenets

I have had a passion for researching and teaching about the Bahá’í Faith for more than half of my life. My fascination with American Bahá’í history and with the first American Bahá’í, Thornton Chase, caused me, in 1980, to switch my academic field from planetary science to history of religion in the United States. As I was finishing my doctorate in that field at Harvard University in 1990, I drew up plans to create a Bahá’í Studies institute that would offer courses, encourage research, and publish. Instead, I was hired by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States to start a research office at our national Bahá’í headquarters in Wilmette, Illinois. Some of the responsibilities of the research office led to the creation of the Wilmette Institute, which ​focuses on most of the tasks of the institute I originally conceived. Meanwhile, I have also remained involved in academia, teaching religious studies part time at DePaul University in Chicago and currently at Indiana University South Bend, just a mile from home. I have also published four books on aspects of Bahá’í history (including a biography of Thornton Chase) and one introductory textbook on the Faith. Listen to Robert’s interview on ‘A Bahá’í Perspective’ podcastSee Faculty Bio

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Chitra Golestani, PhD

WI Associate Director, Faculty, Institute for Humane Education

Dr. Chitra Golestani is currently Associate Director of the Wilmette Institute and an Adjunct Faculty at the Institute for Humane Education/Antioch University. She also works as an educational consultant, guest lecturer, qualitative researcher, and a co-founder of the Paulo Freire Institute (PFI) at UCLA - an organization committed to social justice education locally and globally. Her areas of interest, lectures and research include Human Rights, Social Justice and Global Citizenship Education, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, Youth Activism in Extended Education, Conscious Living and Social Action. She holds a PhD in Social Science and Comparative Education from UCLA and a Master’s in Education from University of California, Santa Barbara. Her areas of interest, lectures and research include Human Rights, Social Justice and Global Citizenship Education, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, Youth Activism in Extended Education, Conscious Living and Social Action. In September 2019, she began a new administrative position as Associate Director of the Wilmette Institute. Her work is inspired by her lived experience with persecution in the country of her birth, Iran, where members of the Bahá’í Faith are not allowed to practice, are prohibited from accessing higher education, and denied other civil rights. While still a young child, her family escaped this marginalization and fled to the US in search of religious freedom, equality between women and men and human rights. Currently, Dr. Golestani is engaged in numerous grass-roots programs aimed at raising human capacity, locally and globally, to work towards a more just, united, and sustainable planet. Listen to Chitra's interview on "A Bahá’í Perspective."See Faculty Bio

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