by Robert Stockman
On Tuesday, September 6, the fall semester begins at the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California, and the Wilmette institute will offer two courses for credit to its students. Bahá’í History will survey the development of the Bahá’í community from 1844 to the present using books, articles, and videos and will examine the subject thematically (attraction of minorities; geographical diffusion; creation of Bahá’í institutions; the developing rhythm of community life; outreach to governments and leaders of thought; enrichment of Bahá’í literature; etc.). Approaches to Non-violent Social Change will examine the ways society can be changed, such as the efforts of Gandhi and King, and the unific approach the Bahá’í Faith takes to social transformation.
In preparation, Drs. Robert Stockman and Chitra Golestani—both of whom have “resident faculty” status at GTU—attended a faculty meeting on August 31. It was a great opportunity to meet people in person whom they had been seeing on Zoom throughout the pandemic. They were welcomed very warmly by the gathering. The visit also provided time to meet with several people who have expressed interest in collaboration, or to schedule Zoom sessions to discuss collaboration at a later date.
The Graduate Theological Union has courses and study programs focusing on such diverse subjects as sustainable development and the environment, theology and the natural world, pilgrimage, spirituality, interfaith chaplaincy, social justice issues, and race studies. It includes researchers on Mormonism, Swedenborgianism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, not to mention Protestantism and Catholicism. It is a unique environment for participating in interfaith discourse while planning the education of future college teachers, clergy persons, chaplains, and others interested in pursuing the study of religion. There is already one Bahá’í student attending and more are anticipated in the future.