Overview of worldwide Bahá'í scholarship projects, publications, and events - 1997.
Association for Bahá'í Studies Australia, prepared for presentation at the Scholarship Institute, Yerrinbool, 10-13 April, 1998.
See also Report 1998 and Report 1999.
Yerrinbool Report on Scholarship:
Study of the Bahá'í Faith is a relatively new field and
certainly one that is exciting. The broad vision that the Bahá'í Writings
brings to the notion of learning means that 'scholarship', as traditionally understood, has
been given new life. No longer the province of a select group, the activity of 'learning',
together with that of applying such learning as far as possible to one's circumstances, have
been raised from mere possibility to distinct responsibility. Bahá'u'lláh
states that the acquisition of learning is 'incumbent upon all'.
A survey of world affairs will surely convince anyone concerned
with the human condition that the application of learning to the common good is sorely
needed. Surely, Bahá'í Scholars will make their contribution. But effective
scholarship is not a simple matter, for it depends on the development of numerous skills and
attributes on the part of both the individual scholar and the community of which she is a
part. This Scholarship Institute is a response to this realisation. It creates a time and space
for discussion of our evolving understanding of the practices of scholarship, and the
relations between these practices and the communities and institutions which form their
context (ie, local, regional, and global).
This 'Report on Scholarship' to the Institute is an experiment in
the use of new communicative technologies. It shows the potential for regular sharing of
information among scholars on a systematic basis and hints also at the potential for greater
collaboration, stimulation, and encouragement, among and between this emerging global
community of scholars.
Scholarly works on the
Bahá'í Faith - Asia-Pacific
Prominent historian of religion in Australia, Hilary Carey, wrote in
the introduction to her recently published book Believing in Australia:
'Buddhism and Hinduism each have a single volume providing an
account of their history in Australia, and there are still no historical accounts of Islam, or
the Western sectarian arms of the world religions such as Bahá'í, yoga or Krishna
It is evident, in light of such comments, that scholars are looking for
scholarly assessments of the Bahá'í Faith related to their disciplines. The fact
is, however, that while most scholars of religion in Australia are aware of the
Bahá'í Faith, they are not conversant with scholarship on
Bahá'í Communities in the Asia-Pacific region. Surveys of religion in
Australia, Asia, and the Pacific, make reference to Bahá'í Communities, but
seldom do so in detail. A number of theses on Bahá'í themes have been
presented at Australian Universities, but these have not appeared in book form for a wider
audience. There are few scholars who have published their work in non-Bahá'í publishers, following the example of J. Fozdar, The God of Buddha
(1973). A number of presentations have been made at conferences of the Australian
Association for the Study of Religion, but again these have not necessarily been published.
The Australian Association for Bahá'í Studies has
published conference proceedings and other titles since its establishment in 1984, some of
which have reached a wider audience. There have been, in addition, numerous smaller
references in scholarly, sectarian and popular literature, as well as considerable coverage
in the mass media.
Prominent Bahá'ís are featured in a number of articles.
Shirin Fozdar’s activities in Singapore, for instance, are examined in Chew, P. G. L. (1994).
"The Singapore Council of Women and the Women's Movement." Journal of Southeast
Asian Studies 25(1): 112-140. The life and photography of Effie Baker is referred to in
Annear, J. and M. Gates (1981). Australian Women Photographers: 1890-1950. Australian
Tour 1981-1982, and in a 1993 entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 13:
1940-1980: A-De. Aspects of Bahá'í history and biography are treated in
some Pacific Islands’ literature.
Of course, considerable scholarship on the Bahá'í Faith
in the Asia-Pacific region has been generated and disseminated within the
Bahá'í community through the Association for Bahá'í Studies.
Conference proceedings have been produced in some form since 1982, and a range of
Monographs has also been published. The cumulative effect of this literature has been to
inform some scholars of religion of the existence of regional Bahá'í
Communities. A few have made presentations at Bahá'í Studies Conferences,
and some have conducted their own inquiry into the Bahá'í Teachings. In
view of the progress made across almost two decades, the Australian Association for
Bahá'í Studies has decided to establish its own journal, to be called
Australian Bahá'í Studies. It looks forward in the coming years to the
emergence of a vital scholarly community in Australia, as part of an equally vital
community at regional and global levels.
The 1997 report of the Association for
Bahá'í Studies - North America, noted the existence of twenty-six
international affiliate Associations for Bahá'í Studies worldwide: Argentina,
Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany (German-speaking
Europe), Ghana, Hawaii, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya (East, South, and Central Africa),
Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria (West Africa), Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, Spain,
Switzerland (French-speaking Europe), Trinidad and Tobago, the U.K (English-speaking
Europe), and Venezuela. A number of these Associations responded to the invitation to
share news of current developments. News of other developments in the affiliate
Associations is found in the Annual Report of ABS North America.
Annual Report 1997-98
Mr Colin Dibdin; Ms Susie Haake (from October 1997); Dr Graham
Hassall; Ms Sandra Langshaw; Dr Natalie Mobini-Kesheh; Mr Babak Mohajerin; Dr Golshah
Highlights and Achievements:
1. The ABS Board examined its method of functioning, and established
portfolios related to processes rather than events (Secretariat: Colin Dibdin, Natalie Mobini;
Finance: Sandra Langshaw; Scholarship support: Graham Hassall, Babak Mohajerin;
Coordination: Sandra Langshaw, Susie Haake; Communication: Babak Mohajerin; Tertiary
liaison: Colin Dibdin, Susie Haake; Publications: Graham Hassall, Natalie Mobini).
2. The ABS Secretariat has been established at premises at ‘The Spot’, in
3. The Association’s 16th Annual Conference, ‘Global Governance: A
Promise for Collective Security and Human Prosperity, was held at the University of
Western Australia, 10-13 July 1997. More than 35 papers were presented by
Bahá'ís and other prominent Australians, including Dr Keith Suter
(president, Australia Association for the Club of Rome); Prof. Stanley Johnston (University
of Melbourne); Mr Chris Sidoti (Human Rights Commissioner); and Ms Kaye Murray
(Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom). The conference also featured
sessions by the Persian Studies interest group. Over 300 Baha’is attended some sessions of
4. A conference with the theme ‘Shoghi Effendi: His Legacy in the
Antipodes’ was held in Mudgee, NSW, from 8-9 November 1997. There were more than ten
papers presented, plus reminiscences from Knights of Baha’u’llah Mrs Yeganegi and Mr
Stanley Bolton, and from Mrs Featherstone and Mrs Vahdat. About 150 Baha’is travelled to
Mudgee to attend the conference, which was opened by the Mayor of Mudgee.
5. A Scholarship Institute , ‘ The Role of Scholarship in the Bahá'í
Community: Reflections on Practice’ was held from 28-31 March 1997 at Gosford Bahá'í
Centre. Six presentations were made.
6. The ABS Newsletter was produced in April, June, September and
December 1997, and distributed to members and a large complimentary list comprising
tertiary Bahá'í societies, national committees, Counsellors, regional National
Assemblies, all ABS affiliate organisations, and Centres of Learning.
7. The book From Poverty to Prosperity was published, containing
15 papers from the 1996 Annual Conference (Adelaide).
8. It was decided to establish a journal, Australian
Bahá'í Studies. In future members will receive two issues of the journal
per year, along with the ABS newsletter, as their membership entitlement.
9. Increased collaboration with ABS Japan, ABS North America, ABS
New Zealand and ABS Singapore.
10. Increased collaboration with national committees, working with the
NYC and the NTC to refine a policy document for tertiary Bahá'í societies.
11. Direct communication with the Bahá'í Societies at
James Cook University, Canberra University, University of Sydney, University of Western
Australia, University of Melbourne, and University of Tasmania.
12. Regional ABS activities took place in Victoria — where a conference
was held jointly with University of Melbourne Bahá'í Society (11 October) on
‘The Bahá'í Community as a Learning Organisation’ — and New South
13. ABS established its own email address, and established the e-mail
discussion group ‘Bahai-Dialogue’. Considerable work also took place on the ABS home
14. The Board assisted a number of scholars with inquiries and
manuscript development (six requests).
15. ABS facilitated the participation of Baha’is at scholarly conferences
(eg. Chris Jones presented a paper at a conference on Religion and the Environment).
16. A second volume of papers on the Kitab-i-Aqdas, including a
new paper by the Hand of the Cause Dr Varqa and four papers presented at the conference
on the Kitab-i-Aqdas held in Sydney in 1993, was prepared for publication.
17. Preparation for publication of Mr Furutan and Mr Faizi at
Yerrinbool (CD of the talks given at the 1953 Summer School with an annotated
Concerns and Issues:
1. ABS still requires more secretarial support if it is to fulfil its
mandate. This additional support could come through employment of a part time officer, or
through acquisition of a ‘Youth Year of Service’ volunteer. A YYS host application has
been lodged with the Youth Desk, and advertisements for volunteers placed in the
newsletter of the Sydney RTC.
2. ABS lacks the resources to provide adequate co-ordination for
tertiary Bahá'í societies. This task is vital to fulfilling the national Four Year
Plan goal of further developing university teaching
Hopes and Opportunities:
1. ABS is holding its 1998 annual conference on 11-12 July at the
University of Auckland, in collaboration with ABS New Zealand.
2. ABS is holding a scholarship workshop at Yerrinbool at Easter 1998.
It is hoped that this will become an annual event.
3. ABS NSW planned a conference on ‘Successful Morality’ for March
1998. ABS looks forward to the development of more scholarship initiatives at regional
4. ABS is convening a conference in Sydney in late September or
early October 1998 to mark the 150th anniversary of the events at Shaykh Tabarsi. This will
be a Persian-language conference with simultaneous translation into English.
5. ABS is convening a conference on Human Rights, in collaboration
with the Office of External Affairs, to be held in Canberra in late 1998 to mark the 50th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
6. ABS is working with ABS Japan to co-convene a joint conference in
Guam in 1999 as a contribution toward fostering relations along the ‘Spiritual Axis’.
7. The Association has the opportunity to sponsor a conference on
‘Asia-Pacific Bahá'í Communities’ collaboratively with the Department of
Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney. An application to the Haj Mehdi Arjmand
Memorial Trust for funding was unsuccessful, but it is hoped that some similar form of
funding will be established within the Asia-Pacific or Australasian region in the medium-term future.
8. ABS hopes to facilitate regular participation by Bahá'í
scholars at the annual conference of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion. A
scholarship has been established to assist possible speakers with the costs of attendance.
The 1998 conference, ‘Managing Religious Diversity: Challenges and Opportunities’, is
being held 2-5 July at the University of Melbourne.
9. Prominent scholar Dr Bahiyyih Nakhjavani has accepted the
Association’s invitation to visit Australia in 1999.
10. In the longer term, ABS seeks to increase the number of active
interest groups. This development requires the active interest and collaboration of ABS
11. ABS intends to continue developing its use of the Internet, and
requires collaboration with specialists in this field.
12. The new ABS journal will be an important tool to achieve the Four
Year Plan goal of further developing university teaching.
Annual report, Ridvan 155 BE .
Membership remains static at around 350. New members join the
ABS(ESE) from disparate sources including the annual conference, special interest groups,
and through articles in the Bahá'í Journal and elsewhere.
The Bahá'í Studies Review (BSR) Volume 6 was published in March
1997, and had been reasonably well received. Contributions remain largely commissioned.
It was the first time that material was submitted to the Academic Reviewing Panel. The BSR
has been extensively cited in the new Resource Guide for the scholarly study of the Bahá'í
Faith, just published in the US. Volume 7 of the BSR is currently in the final stages of
preparation. We have had continuing difficulty establishing a regular editor for the
Associate, our quarterly newsletter, with the result that it has not appeared as regularly as
we would have liked. A new initiative has been the creation of an ABS-ESE web page:
which contains an index and selected articles from the BSR, and the
full text of The Bahá'í Student Handbook. It has had over 300 hits.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs): a new science group has been started
and has held its inaugural meeting. Religious Studies and International Politics and Law
(BIPOLIG) continue to hold seminars twice a year, and attract a core group of between 20-40
participants each. The Religious Studies SIG has held study skills seminars either side of its
last two meetings - one on studying the Bahá'í writings, the other on academic Bahá'í
studies. The Education and Gender Studies SIGs are dormant but the committee is continuing
in its efforts to find coordinators. The impression of the committee is that the SIGs are
where real Bahá'í studies is done. Their small-scale focused subject matter and regularity
lend themselves to deeper expressions of scholarship than other events. It is also an
opportunity to encourage new scholars; BIPOLIG, for example, specifically invites students
to speak. Our annual conference attracted 120 participants and was noteworthy for the
diversity of people presenting as well as the subject matter. All those who submitted
abstracts were invited to speak. We have found that subject matter is more important than
keynote speakers in attracting people to this event.
The National Conference provided a welcome opportunity for the
wider community to sample ABS-style sessions. Around 220 people attended the five
seminars that the ABS hosted, and these seminars generated much discussion.
An excellent conference was held at Nottingham University,
attracting an attendance of around 150 persons. Most of the papers presented were by
students. The 200 copies of The Bahá'í Student Handbook have already been distributed by
the Bahá'í Societies Task Force and the European Bahá'í Youth Council, and we have made
another print run. It has been well received in Europe and apparently a translation into
Italian is under way.
Our impression is that university Bahá'í activities remain a
significant under-achievement of the UK community. There is much scope for a
coordinated and systematic teaching campaign at universities, where there are many
receptive students. It is also an opportunity to proclaim the Faith to many of the future
leaders of the nations of the world.
The committee has derived considerable benefit from a 'Vision Day'
hosted by Auxiliary Board Member Shahriar Razavi, in which we took a close look at our
aims and objectives and their practical application. This has been a rewarding experience
and an example of a fruitful interaction between the two arms of the Faith, enabling
committee members to identify common purposes and policies. Together with Shahriar
Razavi the committee is developing a resource pack of materials on Bahá'í studies intended
for use in the training of Assistants to the Auxiliary Board.
Three areas will require the attention of the committee in the next
few months: (i) Further attempts to introduce the Faith to academics and universities in the
UK and Ireland. As a first step we will donate 20 copies of the BSR to selected institutions
and individuals, and convene a one day consultation on this subject; (ii) Becoming involved
in the training institute process; (iii) Improving the integration between Bahá'í studies
and the wider Bahá'í community, in particular through greater involvement in summer
schools, and a continuing presence at national conference.
ABS(ESE) Executive Committee: Sahba Akhavan, Seena Fazel
(Chairman), Anton Floyd, Naz Ghanea-Hercock, Robert Ghanea-Hercock (Treasurer), Geeta
Kingdon, Roger Kingdon (Secretary), Danesh Sarooshi (Vice-Chairman), Svenja Tams. NSA
liaison members: Wendi Momen (UK), Seosamh Watson (Republic of Ireland).
Thank you for your email with a request to send
the Annual Report of ABS, India, highlighting its scholarly activities. The focus of ABS,
India in the last year was primarily on conducting Moral Education Workshops for
primary/elementary school-teachers. We conducted some eight such workshops throughout
the country. Unfortunately, the Annual Report of the activities will not be ready until
Ridvan. When the Report is ready, I will email you a copy.
Member, Executive Committee, ABS-India.
Annual Report, 1997-98
I Members of the Executive committee (appointed 10/30/97): Kathleen
Babb, Sandra Fotos, Jiyan Ghadimi, Hiroaki Okada, Jerry Strain, Akiko Hayashi, Stephen
Friberg, Mary Noguchi, Janet Sono, Hiroshi Tsunoi
II Officers and committees
A. Chair: H. Tsunoi
B. Secretary: S. Fotos
C. Treasurer: A. Hayashi
D. Publications Committee (includes Newsletter since there is no
Proceedings in 1998): H. Tsunoi, S. Friberg, S. Fotos, A. Hayashi
E. Special Interest Group (SIG) and University Club Committee: J. Strain,
H. Okada, M. Noguchi, S. Friberg (new committee not appointed)
A. Membership: 56 (as of Dec. 21, 1997)
1. Proceedings of the 4th and 5th Annual Conference published
Nov. 30, 1997
2. Newsletters: three issues: March, July and November, 1997
C. Treasurer's report: balance on hand ¥382,236
IV Activities in 1997
A. Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
- five SIGs: English, Arts, Religious Studies, Translation,
2. report from Religious Studies SIG
a. based in Tokyo with core members Friberg & Fotos
b. three meetings at Tokyo Bahá'í Center in 1997: with Dr. Lucien
Randazzese (June 22), Dr. Golshah Naghdy (October 6), and Dr. Stephen Johnson (December
3. formation of moral education SIG and sponsorship of Virtues Project
training sessions in Machida-Atsugi area
B. Spiritual Axis activities
1. trip to Australia by S. Fotos, with talks in Sydney, Melbourne and
the Gold Coast; consultation with ABS-Australia about publishing a joint journal and
holding joint conferences, February 17-24, 1997
2. visit to Japan by Dr. Golshah Nagdy of ABS Australia; talks in Tokyo,
Fukuoka and Kumamoto, October 4-9, 1997
3. meeting of ABS members with Counsellor Bruce Saunders of
Australia; ABS-J apan encouraged to help Korea found ABS, Tokyo, Oct 19, 1009
4. two joint ABS-Japan and ABS-Australia Spiritual Axis panels at ABS
North American annual conference in Washington DC, Nov. 14 & 15, 1997
C. Sixth Annual Conference of ABS-Japan, Tokyo Bahá'í Center,
held December 19-21, 1997
1. Theme: The Institute Process, Community Development and Capacity
2. Invited speaker: Ms. Naznene Rowhani of India
3. Site chair: S. Friberg; Site Committee: H.Tsunoi, S. Fotos.
4. 57 attendees
5. ABS conference website: http://www2.gol.com/users/sfotos/
D. One day conference on Community Development, co-sponsored with Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly, held at Tokyo Bahá'í Center, Dec. 23, 1997. 20
V Upcoming activities in 1998
A. ABS-sponsored visit to Japan by Robert Imagire: May 6-May 20,
1. Mr. Imagire was the first pioneer back to Japan after WWII; he
came in 1947 at the request of the Guardian, gathered the Bahá'ís and revived the Faith in
Japan. He is now a pioneer in the Cook Islands.
2. This project is to deepen our understanding of the significance of the
B. Seventh Annual Conference of ABS-Japan, Oct. 30 - Nov. 1,
1. Japanese Theme: "Kita wa Nihon kara, minami wa Australia
made"; English theme: "From Japan to Australia: the Spiritual Axis"
2. Venue: Sapporo Guest House
3. Site committee
A. Co-Chairs: Keiko Sakamoto and Kathleen Riggins
B. Other members: Ruth Suzuki and Terry Riggins
ANNUAL REPORT 1996–97
What actually needs to be achieved, beyond statements on the nature of
Bahá'í scholarship, is the creation of a practice of Bahá'í
scholarship from which a consultation can emerge, a practice rooted in the Writings rather
than, on the one hand, the blind and narrow application of templates born of Western
patterns of thought, or, on the other hand, the adoption of a practice so wide and all-encompassing that the ultimate and yet undiscovered nature of Bahá'í
scholarship becomes submerged.
The role of the Association should be to facilitate such consultations
which would see the birth of new methods not only of studying the Writings but also of
applying them to the needs of society. If such a practice were to see the light, it could grow,
develop, and evolve into a multifaceted practice where "theoreticians" and
"practitioners" would engage in a true consultation, instead of debating the
value of one approach against another. Moreover, the Association could be the place where
academics and non-academics could find a common ground, where the pursuit of knowledge
and the teaching of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh would not be seen as antithetical
activities but, on the contrary, integrated ones. In short, the Association could be where
Bahá'í scholarship, both in theory and in practice, could be discovered, a
laboratory in which the whole Bahá'í community and beyond could
To aid Bahá'í individuals, help Bahá'í
communities, and assist Bahá'í institutions to accelerate their development of
human resources, thereby magnifying the impact of their many initiatives to reach diverse
strata of North American society.
FIVE AREAS OF CONCERN
1) Association for Bahá'í Studies per se: Becoming a
leading cultivator, publisher, and disseminator of products of Bahá'í
scholarship, especially those applying the principles of the Bahá'í Faith to
the pressing needs of humanity.
2) Bahá'í Students and Faculty: Seed, nurture, and grow
networked communities of interest (with improved access to knowledge) where new
insights are developed through collaborative effort, and the natural bonds of mentoring
are more easily and frequently established.
3) Bahá'í Communities: Foster the maturation of
Bahá'í communities by assisting the institutions responsible for accelerating
the process of Bahá'í community development, including the training
institute process, and by arranging introductions and connections.
4) Educational Institutions: Create a platform for a discourse that
engages leaders in education, influencing their thinking in the formulation of policies and
the transformation of institutions.
5) Leaders and Decision Makers: Assist in the transformation of
leaders and decision makers at various levels by introducing a distinctive model of moral
development based on service to humanity which accelerates the translation of
Bahá'í principles into new tools and practices of governance.
The Association for Bahá'í Studies was founded in 1975
and was legally incorporated as a non-profit organization in June 1986. Copies of the
constitution and by-laws used in the Letters Patent for Incorporation are available from the
Association on request. The most significant change reflected in the constitution is that
Association membership is now open to all, rather than limited to registered
Bahá'ís. As a registered charity, the Association can now directly issue tax
receipts for contributions.
Membership of the Association has grown from 360 in 1979 to 1940 in
1997. There was an increase of 62 members from 1996 to 1997. A breakdown of the
membership is attached as Appendix A.
The Association, whose home territory is North America, is
administered by an Executive Committee appointed annually by the National Spiritual
Assemblies of Alaska, Canada, and the United States. There is also a representative from the
Bahá'í International Community at the United Nations. A membership list of
the Committee for the current year is attached. Members wishing to contact any particular
members of the committee may do so in the care of the Association. Matters pertaining to
the Association in general should be addressed to the Secretary. The Executive Committee
meets three times a year. Members wishing to introduce questions or items for the
Committee’s consideration should do so in writing. Please address such items to the
Secretary of the Executive Committee, Centre for Bahá'í Studies, 34
Copernicus Street, Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1N 7K4.
The 20th Annual Conference of the Association took place at the
Edmonton Convention Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, 26–9 September 1997. The theme was the
last in the three-year Anarchy into Order series: "Anarchy into Order: Crafting Better
Governance." The conference convenor was Douglas Raynor of Edmonton. There were
more than 800 participants and more than 130 children and youth participated in the
parallel conference on Moral Leadership. The Hasan Balyúzí Memorial
Lecture was delivered by University of Western Ontario Professor Emeritus Ross Woodman,
who spoke on "The Role of the Feminine in the Bahá'í Faith," a
reexamination of both the role of women and the role of the feminine characteristics of God
within the Bahá'í Faith. Other keynote speakers included Robert C.
Henderson, the Secretary-General of the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of the United States; Abdu'l-Missagh Ghadirian, member of the
Continental Board of Counsellors for North America; Joan Crockatt, managing editor of the
Calgary Herald; and David Kilgour, M.P., Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. The
schedule has been set for the next conferences of the Association for Bahá'í
Studies. The 21st Annual Conference, "Fostering Human Rights: Developing Pathways
to Peace," convened by Augusto Lopez-Claros, takes place in Washington, D.C., 14–6
November 1997. The 22nd Annual Conference, "The Covenant: Pivot of the Oneness of
Humanity," will be held in Montréal, Québec, 24–7 September 1998, at
the Hôtel du Parc. The co-convenors are Margot Léonard and Liesbeth Bos.
REGIONAL COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES
The Regional Committees of the Association operate in six regions of
North America, including Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Western States, New England, California,
Pacific Northwest (Canada), and Texas Regional Committees. Dr. Robert Stockman, member
of the Executive committee and Research Director at the Bahá'í National
Center in the United States, and Mrs. Sheila Banani, Chair of the Executive Committee, are
the liaisons to the United States-based Regional Committees. The California Regional
Committee held a conference at the Bosch Bahá'í School in Santa Cruz,
California, 21–23 February 1997. The theme was "Profound Faith and Freedom of
Thought: Developing Bahá'í Scholarship," and this far-reaching theme
will be explored again 6–8 February 1998 at the same location. The California Regional
Committee co-sponsored a symposium 27 September 1997 with the local Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahá'ís of San Francisco, called "Re-membering Religion:
Integrating the Good, the Beautiful, and the True," which explored the work of Ken
Several Regional Committees of the Association for
Bahá'í Studies are being re-established. In regions where activities have
been suspended, new committee members are being appointed with a mandate to encourage
Bahá'í Studies in their communities. Some committees with new, eager faces
on board are the Mid-West Regional Committee, the New England Regional Committee, and
the California Regional Committee. The Regional Committees endeavor to organize a
Bahá'í Studies event in their area at least once a year. For information on
each region, please contact the Association in Ottawa.
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (SIGs) ACTIVITIES
Ten Special Interest Groups (Agriculture, Arts, Built Environment,
Business and Economics, Consultation and Conflict Resolution, Education, Intercultural
Issues, Marriage and Family, Study of Religion, and Women’s Studies) held annual meetings
on 26 September 1996 in conjunction with the 20th Annual Conference of the Association in
Edmonton, Alberta. Five Special Interest Groups (Arts, Agriculture, Marriage and Family,
Religious Studies, and Education) will hold workshops during the three days of the 21st
Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The Agriculture, Arts, and Built Environment SIGs
all publish regular newsletters or magazines throughout the year. All members of the
Association for Bahá'í Studies can join any or all of these SIGs at no extra
charge. To join, simply contact the Ottawa head office of ABS, which will forward your name
to the coordinators of the relevant SIGs.
The Association for Bahá'í Studies currently employs
two full-time people (Christine Zerbinis and Danielle Christensen of Ottawa), one contract
bookkeeper and membership coordinator (Parvin Rowhani of Ottawa), one part-time
desktop publishing resource person (Roxanne Lalonde of Edmonton), and for the past
sixteen years has had a volunteer librarian, Mrs. Betty Butterill of Nepean, Ontario, as well
as several other on-going volunteers at the Centre for Bahá'í Studies in
Ottawa. Sources of income include grants from both the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of the United States and the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of Canada, membership/subscription fees, conference fees, and
literature/tape sales. A financial statement for the year ending 30 April 1997 is attached as
In the last year, the Association published The Journal of
Bahá'í Studies, vol. 7, nos. 2, 3, and 4, and vol. 8, no. 1. The Association is a
full member of Council of Editors of Learned Journals and the Canadian Magazine
Publishers’ Association. This latter membership, with its distribution privileges, should
serve to promote Bahá'í Studies. The Journal of Bahá'í
Studies is indexed in Science of Religion Abstracts, Religion Index One, Institut de
l’Information Scientifique et Technique, and Index to Book Reviews in Religion.
The Association for Bahá'í Studies also printed the quarterly international
newsletter, the Bulletin, issues 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60.
CURRENT PAID* MEMBERSHIP (as of August, 1997)
CATEGORY OF MEMBERSHIP TOTAL NUMBER OF
UNITED STATES 716
JOURNAL OF BAHÁ’Í STUDIES
- N.B.: Members are considered current if they are no more than
three months past their renewal date.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE LIST 1997–98
Techeste Ahderom (Bahá'í International Community
Representative); New York, USA; Niloofar Ahmadzadeh, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Sheila
Banani, Chair, Santa Monica, California, USA; Gwen Etter-Lewis, Vice-Chair, Portage,
Michigan, USA; Pierre-Yves Mocquais, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Anne Mackenzie
Pearson, Dundas, Ontario, Canada; Haifa Sadighi, (Alaskan Representative), Juneau, Alaska,
USA; Leonard D. Smith, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA; Robert Stockman, Recording
Secretary, Wilmette, Illinois, USA; Will van den Hoonaard, Treasurer, Fredericton, New
Brunswick, Canada; Christine Zerbinis, Secretary, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The Association for Bahá'í
Studies–Australia launched an e-mail discussion group, called Bahá'í-Dialogue, dedicated to the business and aims of the ABS. Australia also had a busy year for
conferences. An institute was held 28–31 March 1997 at the Gosford Bahá'í
Centre on "The Role of Scholarship in the Bahá'í Community." The
16th Annual Conference of the ABS–Australia was held 10–3 July 1997 at the University of
Western Australia in Perth, on the theme of "Global Governance." Finally, the
ABS is hosting a conference 8–9 November 1997 in Mudgee, New South Wales, on
"Shoghi Effendi: His Legacy in the Antipodes."
The Association for Bahá'í Studies in English-Speaking Europe launched a new special interest group on science called SciSig. The
Irfán Colloquium on Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith was held 6–8
December 1996 at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. ABS-ESE reprinted volumes 1 and 2
of its journal, Bahá'í Studies Review, in one volume. As well, two
conferences were held in Oxford: the first, 16–17 November 1996 on the theme
"Millennium and Apocalypse: The Bahá'í Vision of the Future,"
and the second, 1–2 November 1997 on the theme "Spirituality and Civilization."
The ABS for East, Central, and South Africa held its 4th
Bahá'í Studies Symposium 9–10 November 1996 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Association for Bahá'í Studies for
Francophone Europe published proceedings of its 10th annual conference, held 4–5
November 1995 and entitled "Tolérance, Respect, Diversité." The
11th annual conference will be held in Strasbourg at the Palais de Congrès, 22–23
November 1997. It will be on the theme "L’homme et la femme:
Egalité . . . Utopie . . . Enjeu pour
The ABS for German-Speaking Europe held a conference 11–13
October 1996 at Landegg Academy in Switzerland on "The Prosperity of
Humankind." A conference on the theme "Art — Maidservant of Unity?" was
held in Langenhain at the Bahá'í National Centre, 31 October–2 November
In India, the ABS held its 5th annual conference in New Delhi,
right after the three days of celebration of the tenth anniversary of that city’s
Bahá'í House of Worship. ABS–India also held workshops on teaching
techniques and moral education.
ABS–Japan held its 5th annual meeting on the southern
Japanese island of Kyushu. The meeting, held 22–24 November 1996, was on the theme
"Spiritual Education in Family and Society." The 6th annual meeting will take
place 19–21 December 1997 at the Tokyo Bahá'í Centre, on the theme
"The Institute Process, Community Development, and Capacity Building."
ABS–Singapore held its 2nd annual conference, attracting thirty
participants who discussed "The Fundamental Unity of Religions."
ABS–Singapore has also produced the first issue of its academic journal, Singapore
Bahá'í Studies Review.
We have recently acquired new premises for the library and are in the
process of structural alterations to the new building and of transferring the books to the
new place. It will be some months before the whole set-up is in a fit state to receive visitors
and at present the whole library is in boxes in storage.
Papua New Guinea
Thank you for your invitation to submit something - research in
progress…We recently had a very successful "Equality of Men and Women" seminar here,
organised by the Bahá'í Studies Committee. Close to 200 people attended, 30 of which were
Bahá'ís, and probably another 40 who managed to take the whole morning off work to
attend. Many came for a short time. We received a tremendous amount of press coverage
and even had a sizeable article on the 6pm TV news, with one of the quotes from 'Abdu'l-Bahá read by Counsellor Ugaia in his address as a feature! The response from the general
population was close to overwhelming. So many transcended their fear of a new religion in
order to discuss this issue that is close to their hearts. It did not matter that the Bahá'ís had
organised it, in fact some even began to promote the Faith in their own organisations. We
have now a school that is very interested in conducting staff development on "Equality of
Men and Women" so the teachers have a better and broader understanding of this issue so
they can better teach the children. The Bahá'í
paper was written simply, so that it was immediately accessible to more people, and can be
easily used in the classroom situation. Perhaps this is an area that more
Studies Associations/Committees around the world could focus on the pulling together of
Teachings on the social issues that currently assail the world, presenting it in an easily
read format that is accessible to the majority of people, sprinkling it liberally with relevant
quotes from the Bahá'í Writings. I feel here in PNG in particular it seems to be a winning
formula. A quote I found recently helps me to confirm this position of keeping our
presentations simple with an unrestrained reference to the Word of God: "The
understanding of His words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven
are now in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of
heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit." (Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p.211) Perhaps
the focus of the friends in such institutes are you are organising could be also directed
towards assisting the Bahá'í community to winning the Four Year Plan goals. Producing
material that supports and propels the work of the Four Year Plan, that immediately
encourages the believers to rise up, this would be of tremendous service. These are only a
few of my thoughts. I hope your weekend goes well and all are uplifted by a spirit of action
to met the vital goals of the Four Year Plan.
United States - Research
The Research Office was established by the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahá'ís of the United States in May 1989. Initiated as a 30-hour per week effort, in
1990 its staff person became full time (40 hours a week). In January 1994 the staff was
doubled to two. In January 1997, with the arrival of a full-time youth year of service
volunteer to provide staff support for the Wilmette Institute, its staff expanded to three; in
January 1998 the volunteer was replaced by a paid full-time staffer. In the current
reporting year (March 22, 1997, through March 21, 1998) the office also obtained three
months of volunteer staff support over the summer, one week of volunteer support by a
vacationing student, one day a week of volunteer staff support for the Wilmette Institute,
and one day a week of paid staff support for the Research Office's library.
The Research Office currently is responsible for encouraging
research on the Bahá'í Faith; it supports research and scholarship through service of its
staff on committees of World Order, the Bahá'í Encyclopedia Project, the
Association for Bahá'í Studies, and the Journal of Bahá'í Studies; it
coordinates scholarly programs on world religions at the Association for Bahá'í Studies
annual conference and on the Bahá'í Faith at the American Academy of Religion annual
meeting; it completes review of literature and special materials; it oversees the Wilmette
Institute; and it completes most of the work of the Institute for Bahá'í Studies
and some of the work of the Haj Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund.
SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES, B.E. 154
Composed at least 5600 outgoing written communications (54% increase
over last year) and handled 8300 incoming written communications relevant to research,
literature review, special materials review, the Institute for Bahá'í Studies,
the Wilmette Institute, the Association for Bahá'í Studies, and the Haj Mehdi Arjmand
Memorial Fund. Over three- quarters of the outgoing communications are by e-mail,
underlining the importance of electronic communication to the office's functioning.
Completed 161 literature reviews (10% decrease over last year).
Sixty percent of the items received a rating of "pass"; 29% received a rating of "pass with
changes"; 9% received no rating; 2% received the rating of "reject." Completed reviews of
387 special materials (10% increase over last year). Seventy percent of the items received a
rating of "pass"; 25% received a rating of "pass with changes"; 3% received no rating at all;
2% received a rating of "reject."
Edited and produced the Annual Report of the National Spiritual
Assembly. Conducted a survey and wrote the United States' annual compilation of statistical
information for the Universal House of Justice. Again revised and formally published 1000
copies of *A Resource Guide for the Bahá'í Faith* (formerly titled *A Curriculum Guide*), a
225-page book describing ways to create university courses on the Bahá'í Faith and
providing an extensive annotated topical bibliography on the Faith. Responded to errors in
five books and articles about the Bahá'í Faith by non-Bahá'ís. Drafted an article on the
"Americas" for the Bahá'í encyclopedia project and an article on "Bahá'í Concepts of Social
Concord and Discord" for a volume of papers on concepts of social concord and discord in
the world's religions.
Participated in the advisory board of "The Pluralism Project," a
project based at Harvard University that studies world religions in the United States, and
served as Bahá'í representative to the Cooperative Congregational Studies Project, a project
to survey tens of thousands of religious congregations in the United States during the
government decennial census (January-April, 2000). Visited Nor University in Bolivia to
discuss creation of Bahá'í- inspired curricula.
Communicated with dozens of Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í university
students and faculty, assisted them with research, gave suggestions about scholarly matters,
and helped network them with others having similar interests. In two cases, arranged for
students to serve as volunteers in the Research Office. Assisted a non-Bahá'í scholar with
an article on the Bahá'í Faith and a Bahá'í with an article on world religions for children.
Provided Bahá'í statistical information to the revised *World Christian Encyclopedia.* The
Research Office mailing list now has more than 400 names of Bahá'ís interested in scholarly
Via the Institute for Bahá'í Studies, sponsored a Bahá'í exhibit and
a panel of Bahá'í talks at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical
Literature (SBL). The display was seen by 8000 scholars of religious studies from across
North America. Because of the workload of the Wilmette Institute, little was done to foster
the Institute for Bahá'í Studies this year.
Assisted the Haj Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund to sponsor two
conferences on the study of the Bahá'í writings in Persian, one at Acuto Bahá'í School in
Italy in June 1997 and one at Louhelen Bahá'í School in October 1997; and two in English on
the Baha'I Faith and world religions, in Manchester, U.K. (July 1997) and Wilmette, IL
(August 1997). Initiated planning for colloquia on the Bahá'í Faith and world religions to be
held in London, U.K., in August, 1998, and at Louhelen in early November, 1998.
Created a series of six compilations on the writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
the Bab, and `Abdu'l-Bahá for courses of the Wilmette Institute. Carried out the second year
of the Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program of the Wilmette Institute;
began a series of Wilmette Institute minicourses on world religions at Bosch Bahá'í School;
began the Wilmette Institute's first correspondence courses on the revelation of
Bahá'u'lláh; and helped to plan a five-day minicourse on the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, 1853-63. Created the Wilmette Institute's first catalog and web site (www.usbnc.orgwilmette).
Increased the publication of *The Lamp* (the Institute's newsletter) to six per year and
created a publicity plan involving regular articles in *The American Bahá'í.* The Wilmette
Institute ended the reporting year with 120 students and an income sufficient to support a
Coordinated the "Religious Studies Seminar" at the Association for
Bahá'í Studies annual conference in Washington, D.C.
In the context of our Department of Education for Peace and
Integration and our International Relations Degree Program, I am working in both areas
and the progress is sometime quicker than what I can safely handle...! In human rights, we
are promoting an educational project for youth and indigenous populations and I am now
writing a didactical module for human rights education. This project is called "Leadership
for Human Rights and World Citizenship" (leadership for moral leadership, of course!!!).
On another hand, doors are opening in an amazing way in relation
to our project in conflict resolution. Our plan is to open a Center for the Prevention and
Resolution of Conflicts, which would have two main working areas:
1) the academic area, with our International Relations Degree Program
and its Major in Arbitration and Conflict Resolution. We are also planning to open a
graduate program in conflict resolution.
2) the project area: we have identified three main areas of conflict we
are going to work in: a) conflict within the individual and at the interpersonal level (with
Peseschkian's perspective on Positive Conflict Resolution), b) conflict between organized
groups, such as communities and institutions, c) conflict at the regional and international
level. We are now working in developing a vision for conflict resolution for Bolivia and
Latin America, inspired in the Bahá'í Writings. As you can see, it is a really big project.
Therefore, we have decided to create an international team of consultants, uniting all the
experts and institutions we are in contact with. For the moment, some of the institutions
involved are the Bahá'í Chair for World Peace, and the Institute for Conflict Analysis and
Resolution (George Mason University).
Av. Cristo Redentor, No. 100
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
This section of the 'Report on Scholarship' features contributions from
individuals involved in various research activities.
I describe my PhD thesis as a history of our times
written on an unfamiliar theme. It is a study that uses Foucault's archaeology and
genealogy, as method in history, to explain three central themes. It shows how knowledge
and power are interrelated, how human beings are the object of knowledge and later
become the subject of knowledge, and how a human science such as accounting can be
instrumental in social control.
The study examined the way in which the object known as income,
the alpha and omega of accounting, is discoursed and constructed, making up accounting
knowledge. Income is later regulated and practised through the power of the Department of
Social Security, and it is the basis upon which Australians are marginalised, categorised and
excluded. My thesis explored how 'the poor' have been excluded, confined and categorised
through the regulation and practice of the object known to history as income, and forever
silenced. It tells the story of how wealth and accounting are related, of how accounting
creates income through discourse in order to determine wealth, through the creation of the
poor. Accounting will never explain what income is, because it is not accounting that
holds the key to an explanation or description of income. Instead, it is income itself that
holds the key to the existence of accounting and it is only through the regulation and
practice of income, by excluding the poor, that we come to understand what income is."
As to what I'd like to research in the future: depending on where
I'm going to be, I would like to look at how poverty arises in that part of the world and the
role of accounting and income in bringing about 'the poor'. My conviction is that poverty
can be removed from the world.
I am currently undertaking a Graduate Diploma in
Business, a research project as a prerequisite to undertaking a Doctorate by research as the
NTU has no 'Honours' year.
I am examining the cultural values of both indigenous and non-indigenous students and comparing them to the cultural values inherent in the accounting
methodology used in Australia. If it can be shown that the values held by Indigenous
students relating to concepts such as wealth, ownership, knowledge etc are sufficiently
divergent to non indigenous students, it will then be possible to examine the implications
this has for teaching Accounting (in particular) and for the community (in general). I
would love to be there at the Institute but instead will be undertaking research with a group
of students at Gapuwiyak and Millingimbi! (way out bush in Arnhemland)
Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Northern Territory University
Darwin NT AUSTRALIA 0909
My research and writing interests continue to center around three
main topics: spiritual education as a socially transforming process; the Revelation of
Bahá'u'lláh as a new epistemology and the integrator of the academic curriculum; and the
sociological development, both historically and at present, of the Bahá'í community at every
level, but especially within the region of the Spiritual Axis. In the practical sphere where I
can test these ideas, I remain principal of Daystar International School; a member of the
Board of Directors of International Educational Initiatives, a resource company whose aim is
to develop educational materials and guidelines for spiritual and global education; and a
member of the Association of Bahá'í Studies. IEI will be putting out its fifth publication
soon, and I am now writing papers for some upcoming conferences this summer and
Right now, I am researching into the progress of the soul in the
Chinese religion to see whether there are correlations with the Bahai Faith. Other on-going projects include collecting any materials which comment on the history of the
Bahais in southeast Asia and on the "the pioneer as missionary"; methodology in the field;
and differences between a pioneer and missionary.
William P. Collins
I have completed a 4-year writing project to turn my Master's thesis
into a full-length book. The 410-pages manuscript, presently undergoing Bahá'í peer
review, is tentatively titled: "The Final Consummation: The Millerites and Biblical Time
Prophecy in the American Bahá'í Community." A lengthy article extracted from the
manuscript is being considered for two upcoming issues of "World Order." The article is
entitled: "Millennialism and Millerites: The Bahá'í Adaptation of Historicism
to the Interpretation of Biblical Time Prophecy." For the past three years, has been
coordinating a loose-knot network of Bahá'í librarians, archivists, and information
professionals. The newsletter, "Scriptum", is available on the web at
http://www.bcca.org/~glittle/scriptum. Contributions to the newsletter are welcome.
6819 Stoneybrooke Lane
Alexandria, VA 22306
Proposal for a Needs Assessment: Bahá'í Teachers
of Multifaith or Bahá'í Classes in Primary Schools
There is a significant unmet demand for Bahá'í teachers of multifaith
classes in several regions and local government areas in Australia. This shortage is
exacerbated by the rapid turnover of volunteers. Current trends suggest that the demand
for multifaith and/or Bahá'í classes in schools will increase over time as more schools
express an interest in offering such classes as an alternative to traditional Christian
religious education. The proposed study will attempt to clarify training and resource needs
of existing and prospective volunteers. The outcome will be a report which should assist in
the retention and expansion of the pool of volunteers, and contribute to their knowledge
and skill base.
The study will employ a needs assessment approach (see Queeney, S.
1995. Assessing Needs in Continuing Education: An Essential Tool for Quality Improvement.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers). Needs assessment is a systematic approach to the
determination of the actual needs of a group, as opposed to (e.g.) wants and demands. In a
needs assessment, needs are also elaborated while taking due account of resource
constraints (the "art of the possible", or "real", rather than "ideal"). The researcher has
wide experience in conducting needs assessments in formal and non-formal educational
contexts in Australia and overseas.
The study will involve three main data-gathering phases, and the
outcome will be a report with recommendations for training and resource provision.
Phase 1 (April-May 1998): Group discussions with an intact group of
volunteer teachers of multifaith classes in the Brisbane area. These discussions will be non-directive and will serve to map out possibilities for further investigation and analysis. No
assumption will be made that the issues which emerge from this group will be fully
representative of multifaith teachers Australia-wide.
Phase 2 (June-July 1998): Interviews with multifaith teachers, students
in multifaith classes, and parents of students attending classes in the S.E Qld region. Initial
interviews will be non-directive, and follow-up interviews will investigate emerging
issues. Although no assumption will be made that the issues which emerge from
interviewees will be fully representative of multifaith teachers Australia-wide, the results
will be sufficiently representative to serve as a foundation for a survey questionnaire.
Phase 3 (August-September 1998): Survey questionnaire. This will be
mailed to registered teachers of Multifaith and/or Bahá'í classes in schools Australia-wide.
The content and structure of the survey will be determined through qualitative analysis of
the data from phases 1 and 2. The assistance of the National Bahá'í Education Committee for
Children will be sought (mailing list, postage) for this phase
School of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning,
Faculty of Education, Griffith University Nathan Q 4111
I am involved with a Bahá'í-Christian Dialogue Interest Group (under
the ABS umbrella). The group has about 40 members and has functioned enthusiastically
but intermittently for two years, mainly by e-mail discussions. Our mission statement says
"The Bahá'í/Christian Dialogue interest group exists to promote cordial and productive
dialogue between Christians and Bahá'ís. The group will: 1) try to discover and practice the
skills and attitudes of successful dialogue, 2) engage in actual dialogue as well as reflecting
on the process, and 3) encourage group members to produce scholarly work which will
contribute to better understanding between Bahá'ís and Christians." The group has a web
www.ozemail.com.au/~cdibdin/index.htm. Discussions are held on the
'Bahai-dialogue' e-mail list, and there is an occasional newsletter.
My personal interests in this subject are 1) finding a Bahá'í view of the
Bible which is consistent with both religious and scientific perspectives, and 2) learning
the 'skills' of dialogue which enable all participants to learn and grow, rather than to just
teach. Bahá'í books and journals are providing a steady stream of valuable contributions to
this exciting field, which can only grow in relevance as the Faith expands.
For a Bahá'í contribution to an Oxford (UK)-based collection on
spiritual experience in different religions, I am seeking stories which illustrate this aspect
of the Faith. If you would like to share specific instances of 'spiritual experiences' you have
had, or would like to make comment/share insights into the more general area of spiritual
experience (Bahá'í beliefs about, etc), I would welcome your input.
Your name will not be published in relation to any specific
experiences. Please write to:
Dr Bronwyn Elsmore
Areas of research have included -MSc thesis: The
psychological, cultural and spiritual dimensions of Reconciliation. Other research areas:
the role of myth, memory and identity in ethnonationalism; the foundations for peaceful vs.
violent cultures; the conflict in Cyprus; the spiritual dimension of conflict resolution; the
role of consultation and prayer in conflict resolution; Bahá'í perspective on peace and
world order. New area of research: human rights (universalism vs cultural relativism),
global governance, and the role of non-state actors in the new world order; the United
Nations; religion and conflict; religion and conflict resolution. I am in the process of
writing a paper on Western vs. Islamic notions on Human Rights and the Plight of the
Bahá'ís in Iran.
Cheshmak A. Farhoumand
B.A. Peace and Conflict Studies
M.Sc. Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Ph.d candidate, International Relations
Department of Political Science
I am delighted to have a chance to describe what
we are calling a "new paradigm" for scholarship: we are getting more and more excited
about it. Of course, the source of this "new paradigm" is the UHJ's statements about
scholarship, and more specifically, their guidance to ABS-Japan. A lot of the current
excitement in Japan is tied to the powerful effect of the ABS-Japan conference in December
1997. Sandra Fotos, one of our executive committee members, just got back from Haifa from
a three day visit, having met with both Peter Khan and the ITC. Basically, they were
delighted with us, in large part because of the very strong Japanese component to our
conference. They are strongly, strongly encouraging us: I think we are doing something
that is very much in keeping with their vision of what Bahá'í studies can be. And, here in
Japan, we are having confirmation after confirmation as we are starting to see the great
potential of a Bahá'í Studies "liberated" from the confines of other models.
Basically, I think what happened is that our conference finally
broke away from the old model and started firmly in a new direction. By our avoiding
highly academic approaches, ordinary Japanese believers were able to understand very
much of what was being said, and felt very much it was for them. And by featuring talks on
Japanese aesthetics and spiritualization, we strongly "validated" and "endorsed" the ways of
our Japanese friends. I don't think that I can over-emphasize how important I think this to
be. [Of course, a warm and relaxed atmosphere helped very much, as did the Japanese folk
songs and the powerful, evocative performance of koto music.]
And the response has been enthusiasm, increased confidence,
increased activity, spontaneous endorsement of ABS activities, and much more important in
this country where basically the administration is only slowly developing: a method and
means that allows people to get together to understand and apply the Bahá'í teachings for
the very practical activities of community development and teaching.
Let me comment on what the role of the traditional academics,
scholars, and professionals seems to be in our "new paradigm." It is very, very important, a
far cry from the usual things that causes worries about anti-intellectualism and academics.
As I see it, the professionals and scholars play the extremely important role of validating,
supporting, backing up with specific expertise, providing a broad vision, and being a
"treasure" of knowledge that can be drawn on. In playing these diverse roles, which can be
done in such a natural and easy way that the whole intellectual/anti-intellectual thing can
be forgotten, a strong sense of unity develops - a lack of feeling separated and apart. It is
only natural that this should happen when knowledge is put to fruitful use.
Obviously, I am enthused. Saturday, we spent the afternoon with
some of the friends talking about how to translate Mohan Narula's good but complicated
community development strategies into simple plans, and the group, instead of seeing it
merely as an intellectual exercise [I was trying to prepare a well-stated suggestion to submit
to the NSA at the national convention], decided they would set a goal (energize the Tokyo
LSA, which has been in the doldrums lately), make plans, and start a new Special Interest
Group on Community Development. Not only that, but we clearly saw the way to take it
national. Simply amazing!
In short, we are being filled with a vision of ABS and Bahá'í Studies
as a practical, dynamic, community-oriented organization that can bring knowledge and
expertise together with people in a focused, consultative manner that provide a powerful
way to address problems and provide ways to find solutions, while at the same time fostering
and enhancing an appreciation of the skills and knowledge capabilities needed by the
community. And without a doubt, it demands and fosters "local" knowledge skills! Very
powerful indeed, and perhaps Bahá'í Studies can even be a crucial component in the
growth of the Bahá'í community, one that can play an important role in breaking the
logjam that seems to have arisen at the current stage of development of the administrative
order in various places around the world.
Bahá’i Consultation as a model of
Alternate Dispute Resolution
Very little is known of the Bahá’i Faith as a religion, let alone
one of its principal institutions, Bahá’i Consultation, which acts in the Bahá’i
Faith as a kind of ADR. But Consultation is much more than a mechanism of ADR. The
purpose of this Dissertation is to explain what Bahá’i Consultation is; to propose
Bahá’i Consultation as a model of ADR; and to study the proposed Model from
different angles. It will have 13 Chapters, following a natural progression of ideas from the
history of the Bahá’i Faith to the nuts and bolts of Bahá’i Consultation and its
role in the modern secular world.
Chapter 1 (Introduction - Consultation as a model of alternate dispute
resolution) will discuss briefly the characteristics of the various existing methods of
ADR. It would then introduce the Bahá’i Consultation; and set out its basic
characteristics, and briefly state the intrinsic differences Consultation has existing
methods. In essence it is a process for grappling with issues, out of which emerge
Chapter 2 (Brief introduction of Bahá'u'lláh and the
Bahá’i Faith) will introduce the Bahá’i Faith and its fundamental verities.
There will be a brief historical tour of the Faith. Chapter 2 will also introduce the basic
building blocks in reference material; i.e. the ranks of different kinds of Bahá’i
writings, the importance and weight attached to each; and in an apparent conflict between
the one and the other, which ought to prevail. Central figures in the Faith and the Station
of their persons and their writings will be examined.
The unique position of the writings of Shoghi Effendi the Guardian
of the Faith will also be discussed. Next the function, role and the relative importance of the
writing s of the Universal House of Justice will be set forth. This will be to assist the reader
understand the relative importance of each of their views as compared to the other. Some
discussions of the Bahá’i concept of justice will also be discussed, followed by
Bahá’i jurisprudence and relevant juridical institutions as propounded by the
Chapter 3: (Station of Consultation in the Bahá’i Faith) will
discuss the position Bahá’i Consultation occupies as an "institution" in the
Bahá’i faith and its role. One of the purposes of this chapter would be to examine the
religious basis of Bahá’i Consultation.
Chapter 4: (The Nature of Bahá’i consultation):
Bahá’i consultation is both a means of jointly considering something, and a
means of allowing an idea to grow; it is an organic process, used for organic beings, for
organic purposes. This would be a continuation and expansion of Chapter 1; going deeper
into the characteristics of Bahá’i consultation.
Chapter 5: (The pre-requisites of consultation: its nuts and bolts):
will discuss the actual technicalities and the conditions under which Bahá’i
Consultation will work.
Chapter 6: (Use of consultation as an institution in the institutions of
the Bahá’i Faith) will discuss the role Consultation plays in Bahá’i
Chapter 7: (Comparative analysis of the basis of consultation and
traditional methods of dispute resolution mechanisms and ADR mechanisms) will be a
comparative Analysis of the basis of Bahá’i consultation and traditional methods of
dispute resolutions and other ADR mechanisms will be examined.
Chapter 8. (A Comparative analysis of the Islamic
"Muzawarah/Meshuwarah" and consultation) will be a study of Consultation
and the Islamic method of "discussion".
Chapter 9: (Use of the "Consultation Model" in various
conflict situations:) will examine the use of Consultation in various conflict situations,
including Family, Corporate, Industrial, Public-related conflicts and in Criminal
Chapter 10: (Present institutions that utilise the Consultation Model)
will discuss present institutions, both Bahá’i and non-Bahá’i that utilise
the Consultation Model. There will be a discussion of the American judges, Nelson’s
institution which have proposed a system of mediation mechanism; as well as Consultation-like systems used by other religions, particularly Islam. This Chapter would also examine
any existing system of conflict resolution in other religions.
Chapter 11: (Recorded examples of the use of the Consultation Model
in dispute resolution) will discuss various recorded examples when this system has been
used; with an analysis of the structure used and a study of the results achieved.
Chapter 12 (Non- usable areas) will discuss certain areas where
the idea of consultation will not work.
Chapter 13 (The future role of Consultation as an ADR method)
will discuss the future role of Consultation as a dispute resolution mechanism.
Here in Spain, the Bahá'í Studies Association went
through a period of latency for several years, despite some very promising beginnings.
Support for Bahá'í Studies has been quite considerable in terms of affiliation.
More than two hundred people pay regularly a yearly sum of about 30 Australian dollars in
order to finance the main activities of the Association. Four years ago the NSA of Spain
made a move to give new impetus to the Association, and as a result activities have sprung
in a healthy manner. For the past four consecutive years both the Bulletin and the
periodical "Revista de Apuntes Bahá'ís" have been coming out without
considerable delays, and contributions on the part of Spanish authors have become a
regular if not dominant feature. Efforts to consolidate various interest groups have met
with a mediocre response, but this does not seem to deter the Executive Board from its
resolve to persevere.
Actually, the current Executive Board has managed to implement a
serious 2 year program aimed at training young Bahá'í researchers. This
program consists of materials covering a wide range of topics, with a somewhat
philosophical bent, and a combination of follow up correspondence activities and tutorials
for those living in the same region. The response has been very positive bearing in mind
the difficulties involved. More than ten young Bahá'ís are taking up this
program and are working towards its completion quite satisfactorily. Unfortunately,
distances and the lack of tutors is becoming a hindrance to extend the benefits of this
initiative to distant regions such as Andalucía. By the way, one of the reference
books they are using is my work "Hacia un discurso bahá'í" (Working out
Just three weeks ago the Association for Bahá'í Studies of
Spain celebrated its tenth Anniversary with a two day series of talks focusing on various
aspects of World Citizenship. Two relevant academic figures in the world of ethics accepted
to give key addresses. One of them was a former independent Senator, Professor Victoria
Camps, and a prestigious Senior Lecturer Norbert Bilbeny, both from Barcelona's Autonoma
University. I had a talk on "World Citizenship as an Ethical Concept", which was further
subdivided into three main sections: a historical outline; a series of considerations on the
semantics surrounding words such as "citizenship", "society", "community", "globality" and
the like; and thirdly, some conclusions from the ethical standpoint. To give you an idea I
will summarise the first part of it.
My main contention is a truism, namely that the idea of
"citizenship" is closely linked to the development of cities and civilization as a whole. In
this process of integration we have come to see how a citizen is someone who is freed from
elementary needs and therefore is able to influence and contribute positively to the
common weal. At first, this capacity was the preserve of just a few. In Ancient Greece,
women, children, slaves, foreigners and the infirm were simply beyond the pale. But
throughout the past two millennia we have come to witness a process whereby all the
excluded categories of people become part of the very definition of able humankind. After
the French Revolution, the traditional division into states is thrown out and differences
ascribed to inherent privileges abolished. The idea of the common "people" becomes all-inclusive, so much so that everyone is equalized, at least from that point of view. There are
no longer vassals. All are part and parcel of a "society" or "fatherland" which acknowledges
some basic political rights to all its members, regardless of their condition. All become
united through the bond of a new social contract. Of course, this new era is not free from
important flaws. Although citizens are allotted an equal share of rights, so to speak,
differences tend to solidify along supposedly non-discriminatory lines. Citizens become
different not because they are given privileges, but because differences are natural or
simply because excellence is attributable to personal merit.
I tried to explain that in this process we have tended to develop two
different approaches that, if carried to its extreme, are utterly incompatible and equally
detrimental to humankind. One approach tends to view humankind as a mere aggregate of
individuals. It is centered on the individual and looks with suspicion at society and the State.
The other is basically society-centered, and tends to see the individual as a mere projection
or expression of societal forces. In this approach the individual is given shape basically
through institutional means. My own contention is that the idea of community, as envisaged
in the Ridván message 153, establishes a third element where both levels encounter
creatively and in a way in which neither of the two actors becomes exclusive.
Furthermore, I contend that apart from the expansion of human rights, which now include
rights of the second and third generation and provide a language which is of universal
value, there is an element of voluntariness which must be added to the exercise of human
rights and its natural counterpart: duties and responsibilities.
I hold the view that one of the greatest features of this century lies
precisely in the formidable expansion of "human resources" and correspondingly in the
strengthening of civil society, understood not so much as a counterbalancing power, but as
the responsible use of the capacities developed by conscientious people who are able to see
with their own eyes. In "Working out Bahá'í discourse" I proposed the
following definition of civil society: "Civil society means citizenship consciously exerted
and aimed at individual and collective empowerment". The idea is an enlargement of Kant's
definition of Enlightenment as "freedom from culpable incapacity".
In general, much of my work has been undertaken under much
pressure and has been largely made possible by taking advantage of odd moments taken
from here and there. "Working Bahá'´i Discourse" and the small booklet "On
poverty" were responses to petitions made by some Bahá'ís. My book on
religious dialogue was practically concluded in Australia and hopefully will come out soon.
During the last five years, through the piecemeal work I have mentioned, I have been able
to write other works:
1) "Children of Utterance". This work looks at the importance of the
written Word in our world and the difficulties we encounter to understand each other in the
process. In the first chapter I describe some basic questions concerning orality versus
literacy, and the expansion of consciousness which is associated to the spread of writing in
our modern world. I also take some pains at describing the side effects of a literary culture
(the excesses of civilization), basically the tendency to despise memory and anything with a
smack of learning by rote. Later, I have discovered that there is a considerable number of
works by authors such as Chadler, Olson, Goody, Bottero and Havelock very much in the
same line. In the second and third chapters I deal with the importance of the word in the
Bahá'í writings, the question of interpretation, the role of
Bahá'í scholarship and the etiquette which should be applied to interaction
between Bahá'í scholars. Other chapters offer a critical view of the abuse of
images in our society, both in a literal and figurative sense. I illustrate my views with two
commentaries, one devoted to an article by Vargas Llosa on TV, and another criticising the
use of images ad metaphors as a rhetoric device to make palatable things which are
2) "The Wealth of Humankind". A series of essays on questions related to
economics. I begin with a commentary on Jesus statement "you will always have poor
amongst you". Here my purpose is to show how a statement is taken out of context and made
into a sort of lasting sociological factual statement. To prove my point I go into some detail
discussing the other key points surrounding Jesus discussion with Judas on account of the
annointment with the expensive parfume. Judas seems to represent a sort of materialist
spirituality. His intentions are good, but they are based on an economy of salvation which
values means and logical reasoning above love and community links. In subsequent
chapters I try to explore at some length the importance of charity as generous love. I
criticise the somewhat irresponsible criticism which underlies much of the negative
publicity carried out by model NGOs: we do not want your charity, we want your money, and
the like. If you want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you only have but to abhor
from charity. I illustrate this with some of the Enlightened paradoxes still active in our
contemporary imagery: the invisible hand, the idea that self-interest may redound into
social goodness as if by magic, the receding importance of charity versus utilitarian
arguments, and so on. I also discuss the "cake" metaphor as a basic part of economic
thinking. In another section I deal with some of the "undervalues" current in Market
current thinking. For instance the idea that "risk" and "uncertainty" must take some sort of
prominence in business ethics. I provide an in-depth analysis of a talk given by a very
well-known Spanish banker and show the obvious contradictions and begging questions
which are characteristic of this rhetoric. In a final chapter I attempt to provide some basic
references concerning business ethics.
3) "Essays on the Translation of Bahá'í Writings".
4) "A guide of Academic Writing for Thinking Students". This book is
divided into two sections. The first part deals with university studies in general. It shows
the importance of language in creating an academic culture and discusses the role of
scholars or intellectuals in modern society. This part aims at becoming a readable approach
to academic work. I try to show the specifics of an academic environment, the difficulties
involved in characterising "culture", and the complexities surrounding the use of words
such as "objectivity", "science", "structure" and the like. In the second part I describe the
elements of writing, stressing the importance of "essay writing" and "argumentation".
During this period I have also made some progress on my PhD
thesis on "An Analysis of the Concept of Peace in the Bahá'í Religion", but I
have been unable to find quality time and the much need peace of mind to complete it. God
willing, this may happen in the not so distant future.
Right now I am devoting most of my time to prepare translations of
some books in order to establish an independent Bahá'í publishing firm. I
have already translated "Asking Questions, A Challenge to Fundamentalism", and currently I
am working on the translation of Mírzá Haydar's Alí's Memories from
the Delights of Hearts" and "The Psychology of Spirituality" by Hossain Danesh. I obviously
entertain some doubts as to the financial feasibility of this venture, but if it proves
successful I would love to branch off into more community-oriented works. I believe that
there is a potentially huge area of works tapping into the Bahá'í writings
aimed at empowering Bahá'í communities with practical tools for self-development. Conflict resolution and consultation are evidently some of them; but there is
much that can be done in personal growth, community skills and the like. We'll see about it
and what is in store for us.
I am always tempted by the idea of exploring the language of the
Bahá'í Scriptures and identify its main themes in the broadest context offered
by Persian and Arabic literature. In all probability I will have to settle for something less
ambitious; but whether there is a will (...) I suppose this has become too much of a letter. I
wish you all the best in your endeavours, and I would love to hear from you and the results
of your Scholarship Institute.
Lots of love,
I have begun, spasmodically over the last two
years, some research on how the fragrances of the Writings of the Faith effect the
"harmony" and "wellbeing" of the body when one is afflicted with a chronic illness. I have
Multiple Sclerosis, and have noticed that I am at my "best" state of health, when I feel in
spiritual harmony. How when I am involved in a teaching project or other field of service,
my state of health leaps by comparison to when I am not. By researching it I am hoping to
be of assistance to myself and others who have chronic illnesses, so we can best utilize our
lives in service to humanity.
Bahá'í history and biography. Recently completed
projects include publication of letters from Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í
Communities of Australasia (Messages to the Antipodes: BPA 1997), and "Pacific
Bahá'í Communities: issues and prospects’, Bahá'í Studies
Review (6, 1996). In 1998 I have hopes of completing a biography of Effie Baker. Ongoing
projects include collection of materials for a biography of Clara and Hyde Dunn, and for an
introductory history of the Bahá'í Faith in Australia; as well as collection, in
collaboration with Babak Mohajerin, of Shoghi Effendi’s letters to North and Southeast Asia.
Through teaching a course on Shoghi Effendi’s work Promised Day is Come as part of
the Certificate in Bahá'í Studies program at Yerrinbool I have realised the
need for much greater knowledge of the lives and times of the monarchs addressed by
Baha’u’llah, and have commenced reading, principally at this stage the life of Napoleon
Approaches to social theory. I am interested in themes that
overlap with my work at the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies. In general, this
means an interest in theories of state and civil society, and the various components of their
structure (parliaments, courts, systems of executive operation) and means of interaction
(theoretic: notions of authority, democracy, legitimacy, law, constitutionalism; and actual:
media, electoral systems, etc). Focus on the concepts of unity and pluralism requires
consideration of conflict resolution. I am attempting to write a chapter on ‘governance and
conflict’ for a book being edited by Charles Lerche as part of the Emergence series.
Each of the themes mentioned above relates to inquiry into how
Bahá'í communities understand and practice governance. To aid this
inquiry, I am reading on two themes: Habermas’ theory of communicative action
(especially Between Facts and Norms), and ‘learning community’. The latter topic,
about which much appears on the internet, is expressed in my involvement in the Regional
Teaching Committee for Victoria. This committee takes a ‘learning organisation’ approach
to its activities in the region, manifest in such innovations as the "Victorian
Bahá'í Community Expo", the monthly "Community Forum",
the establishment of offices of Human Resources, Education, Youth, and Communications –
and the development by this last office of a communicative capacity by website (FLAME
Online), internet (FLAME Express) and traditional print media (which I guess can be called
the ‘old flame’).
Information Collection. I am hoping to make increasing use of
the internet for these and other scholarship projects. For instance, I am interested in
identifying the most relevant bibliographic and full-text databases that can be searched on
the internet, or through such other means as cd rom. These can be newspaper databases,
but also discipline and area specific databases. A second goal is to identify useful ‘push
browsers’ that systematically collect and refer relevant material. A third goal is to increase
interaction on internet discussion groups, for directed scholarship ends. For instance, I
participate on the list "Bahai-outposts" – a list of interest to pioneers and others
interested in ‘remote’ Bahá'í Communities – by periodically posting
information on the Knights of Baha’u’llah, and inviting elaborations, corrections and
clarifications, from other list participants. All this work is, alas, hindered by a lack of
knowledge of how computers work.
Chief among my thoughts at present, is the
observation of examples in Australian society of the evolution of Bahá'í principles in
chronological correspondence to the unfolding of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. For example,
Rose Scott, feminist, and campaigner for women's suffrage in New South Wales, turns out,
on reading her private papers, much more spiritual in nature than her biographer, Judith
Allen, would have us believe. In her papers, Rose Scott espoused numerous principles now
taken for granted by Bahá'ís, and explained them in spiritual terms. She argued that men
and women displayed spiritual qualities that could be used in a complementary manner, that
science and religion were also complementary, and that independence should attend the
pursuit of knowledge by men and women. She outlined a Bahá'í-like formula for
consultation and problem solving, and a non-party approach to the democratic process.
Further, in an unfinished partly autobiographical novel she also recorded her own prayer,
made on the morning her sixteenth birthday, that she could dedicate her life to the service
of others, and that she could speak to Jesus himself and learn what he would want her to do.
She turned sixteen in 1863. This is but one example of what may be interpreted as an early
response to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. My reading of the biographies and private papers
of other Australian women suggests that they too may have responded unconsciously to the
spirit of the age. This accumulation of evidence of the emergence of the spirit of a new era
in Australia, even before the actual arrival of the Faith, is an interesting and illuminating
project. It is also one that my own work seems to inevitably complement, hence my growing
My Bahá'í Studies agenda has always been fairly
straightforward. I became convinced a long time ago that the Teachings of the Faith, and
the world view of a committed Bahá'í, could very usefully be brought to bear on a wide
spectrum of practical problems in society and epistemological problems in the social
sciences. Both the New World Order series and other articles I have written, have been
efforts in this direction. I have found this a very exciting intellectual experience since
there is great creative energy in the Faith, and an ever-widening pool of scholars working
along these lines. My current project is the 3rd volume of the New World Order series,
which focuses on Conflict Resolution. I am pleased to report that there will be both
theoretical and practical work applying the Bahá'í Teachings to a variety of issues in this
vast field which extends from the inner workings of the psyche to the macro-level of
The fact is, I'm currently accomplishing my
Obligatory National Service as a conscientious objector, so my work is somewhat frustrated
for the time being. **********
Thomas Linard (b. 1973 in Bourges, France) directs the bulk of his
studies toward the important field of primary sources. He has compiled a bibliography of
French sources about the Bahá'í Faith, Bibliographie des ouvrages de langue francaise
mentionnant les religions babie ou baha'ie, of which the first part (1844-1944) is
completed, and the second forthcoming; he established also a catalogue of the Barney
Collection of the NSA of France's archives. He publishes his results and reproduces some of
his findings on the Web, which he considers to be a very useful means of making available
material for research http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2385/
I am just finishing a book to be published by
Oneworld Publishers called "The Phenomenon of Religion" - on the study of religion. Out
recently, edited by myself, a collection of papers: Scripture and Revelation. Bahá'í Studies
vol. 3. Oxford: George Ronald, 1997.
Presently June is undertaking a doctorate at the University of Sydney
researching the negotiation of social change through the indigenous drama of the Pacific
and Australia, by focusing on four major case studies drawn from the region. Among them
are a Kiribati Video/Film unit, with Bahá'ís involved in its work, and a highly
successful non-Bahá'í dance group based in Sydney which tours world wide,
Bangarra. Since embarking on this research she has also begun writing plays and
working on collaborative drama productions with women and youth. Currently she is
researching and writing a play about the life of Fred Murray, an early
IndigenousAustralian Bahá'í. She is working towards workshopping the play
for production with a group of Bahá'í's and non-Bahá'ís of
both indigenous and non-indigenous background in a practical demonstration of unity in
diversity and to interest Australian Bahá'ís in looking at the history of
Aboriginal people entering the Bahá'í Faith. She is also working on her first
collection of poems which will cover themes of motherhood, unity in diversity and social
June Kathleen Paisa Perkins, Bachelor of Arts (hons) University of
Melbourne, Graduate Certificate of Education (Tertiary Teaching) James Cook University,
currently undertaking PhD supervised by English Department and Centre for Performing
Arts, University of Sydney - mother. Background Bahá'í/Mekeo/English/Australian
Currently the topic of my research is: Achieving
inner and outer balance: an exploratory study of the role of the school in the child's
acquisition of wisdom. As a first step, this thesis proposes to integrate ideas from four
perspectives, those of philosophy, psychology, cultural studies and comparative religious
studies, in order to define wisdom. The second step will be to look at the possibilities and
processes of the acquisition of wisdom by children, and its facilitation by teachers and care-givers. The primary reason for this research is what Sternberg (1990:332) lucidly describes
in his paper:
It is hoped that research on wisdom will help to develop useful tools to
assist world and national leaders in the increasingly complex problems facing humanity.
Many crucial decisions, from nuclear waste to water use, face leaders and policy makers
each day. Thus, wisdom is not simply for wise people or curious psychologists: it is for all
people and the future of the world.
Delors (1996:14), chairperson of the UNESCO International Commission
on Education for the Twenty-first Century, states that the reawakening of the moral and
cultural dimensions of education would need to begin "with self-understanding through an
inner voyage", whose aim is not only to foster the development of the full range of human
capacities, but also "to grasp the individuality of other people and to understand the world's
erratic progression towards a certain unity". As an appropriate example, exploring the
above mentioned ideologies within its universal principles, the Bahá'í world community
will be studied - Bahá'í schools around the
Outline of doctoral thesis currently in progress at
the Institute of Education, University of London
Title: Globalisation, Curricula and International Student Communities: A
Case Study of the United World College of the Atlantic
The thesis explores micro-level effects of globalisation in the domain of
education. Specifically, it explores the role of curricula in assisting young people to
contribute as members of an international community, to constructive social change. A
case study design has been adopted to investigate whether certain curricular and
pedagogical interventions are effective tools for the development of globally oriented
student communities. The United World College of the Atlantic, in Wales, is the case study
institution for this enquiry.
The thesis, which is informed by theories of globalisation and
social evolution, explores a range of innovative approaches and strategies and assesses
their impact on student behaviour and attitudes. It aims to lay foundations for new
theoretical paradigms by providing fresh insights into the dynamics between international
education and human behaviour.
The Institute is an exciting initiative. Perhaps I will be able to
attend in 1999! Wishing you all the best for the Institute, kind regards,
Many thanks for your forwarded message, and all
good wishes for your upcoming conference. As you know, my main research interest is
trying to survive bus journeys in Bangkok traffic. Apart from that, I would like to be
working on a book on Shoghi Effendi's writings in English. All I need is another
van den Hoonaard
As you can well appreciate we had a very busy year over here in
Canada with Bahá'í Studies. Before I present the report I should emphasize that Bahá'í
research in Canada has picked up immensely in the past few years, but because I am not
always aware of all these developments, my report is of necessity quite limited. I apologize
for this shortcoming.
We suddenly seem to be making great strides in Bahá'í scholarship.
In May 1996, Paula Drewek completed her PhD thesis at the U. of Ottawa, entitled, "Cross-Cultural Testing of Fowler's Model of Faith Development: the Bahá'ís of Canada and India."
We have another PhD thesis along the way and that one is by Lynn Echevarria-Howe who is
in the midst of completing her work, "Seeing Through the Vision: Life Narrative Analysis of
Canadian Bahá'í Women." Her supervisor is Paul Thompson of Essex University (England)
who is the leading authority in such analysis. She is poised to complete her work this year.
Her PhD work is supported by a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada, the first dissertation research to have received this
Chris Buck completed in dissertation at the U. of Toronto, "Paradise
and Paradigm: Key Symbols in `Persian' Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith" in 1996. We are
very proud of his exceptional accomplishment which received wonderful reviews from a
number of non-Bahá'í scholars.
University Bahá'ís in Canada have also been experimenting with a
new format of presenting the Faith in university settings. They invite non-Bahá'í scholars
to research the Bahá'í Writings and offer their views along the lines of their topic of
research. This has been successfully done at McMaster University and the University of
New Brunswick. Jonah Winters, a PhD candidate in Middle-Eastern Studies, has set up his by
now well-known website that contains not only many, many unpublished and published
papers on the Bahá'í Faith and the Bahá'í community, but has also organized a sound list of
Bahá'í scholars. Todd Lawson continues to render substantial scholarly work in the field of
Further to Bahá'í research in Canada, we were fortunate that
Wilfrid Laurier University Press published _The Origins of the Bahá'í Community of Canada,
1898-1948_ which was peer reviewed by a panel of Canadian scholars, as a result of which
the Canadian Government through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of
Canada gave a publication subvention. The book is receiving favourable reviews in non-Bahá'í and Bahá'í journals.
Currently, there are two other research projects involving the
Bahá'í communities in Canada; both have been commissioned by the National Spiritual
Assembly of the Bahá'ís in Canada. The first, commissioned in 1996, was completed last week
(end January 1998): it is an empirical study of how the Bahá'ís are implementing the
equality of women and men. Drs Deborah and Will van den Hoonaard (both sociologists)
undertook this study, involving focus groups across Canada, consisting of youth, Persians,
village, town, and city focus groups, francophones, and aboriginals. The research has
already been presented in several academic circles and warmly received at the U. of
Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the 1997 Qualitative Analysis Conference, and the Departments
of Sociology and Psychology at the University of New Brunswick.
The final research activity will, hopefully, expand even more our
horizons in terms of Bahá'í research. The National Spiritual Assembly of Canada submitted a
major grant proposal to the Canadian Federal Department of Canadian Heritage to study how
Bahá'í communities in Canada are overcoming racial/ethnic segregation and social
isolation of minorities. Drs. van den Hoonaard are making arrangements to have their
respective universities set up the infra-structure for the research. The arrangements are
complicated, but the funding will place Bahá'í research on a more solid foundation in
Canadian academic life---we hope!!--along with many of the other initiatives mentioned
above. We look forward to another tremendous year in 1998. We have some 70 Bahá'ís who
are either doctoral students or faculty in 30 of Canada's 70 universities.
Warmest regards, Will
A Resource Guide for the Scholarly Study of the Bahá'í
Faith is edition seven of what was previously titled A Curriculum Guide for the
Bahá'í Faith. Editions one through five consisted primarily of the Curriculum
Guides section (section one in current edition) with a limited annotated bibliography and
only one appendix. In editions six and seven the scholarly bibliography and its annotations
grew in size and the appendices in number, such that the Guide became far more than
simply one for curricula. Its new title reflects its broader content.
The purpose of the Resource Guide is to provide information about
how to include the Bahá'í Faith in college and university courses, to give an
annotated bibliography of reliable scholarship for the student or researcher, and to
provide him or her with a selection of helpful resources. It was written with four audiences
in mind: (1) university instructors in Religious Studies, Sociology, Middle East Studies, and
other disciplines, who usually do not know much about the Bahá'í religion
and may want to include it in their existing courses; (2) instructors at colleges and
universities who are Bahá'ís and would like to offer courses on the
Bahá'í religion, but who do not have training in Religious Studies, and thus
do not know what educational standards exist in that field; (3) Bahá'í students
at colleges and universities who would like to propose a course to the university
administration or its Religious Studies department; (4) those who wish to do research on the
Bahá'í Faith and need an annotated bibliography and resource manual to
In order to fill the needs of these four very different audiences,
the Resource Guide has four main parts: the Curriculum Guides, the Annotated
Bibliography, Assorted Resource Tools, and Indices.
1) Curriculum Guides for Teaching the Bahá'í Faith
The curriculum guide segment provides some possible outlines for
academic presentations of the Bahá'í Faith. Course outlines include: (1) an
introductory article about the Bahá'í Faith, entitled "The Bahá'í
Faith: A Short Introduction"; (2), a three-hour section on the Bahá'í Faith
designed for inclusion in a course on Comparative Religion, which lists relevant
paragraphs from Section Two, "Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship on the
Bahá'í Faith"; (3) outlines of four complete one-semester courses on the
Bahá'í Faith, with numerous references to the annotated topical
bibliography, including "A Comparative Religion Approach," "A Sociological Study of the
Bahá'í Community," "The Bahá'í Faith
in Historical and Comparative Perspectives," and "A Traditional
Bahá'í Approach to the Bahá'í Faith."
These outlines are designed to offer assistance for many of the
different ways of approaching the Bahá'í Faith. First, there is the
"comparative religion" approach. Here we intentionally favor the term "comparative
religion" over "history of religions" because we do not choose to emphasize history as much
as an examination of the Bahá'í religion from the point of view of the major
themes found in most religions: prophecy, doctrine, scripture, community life, ethics,
ritual, pilgrimage, mysticism, and others. Second, there is the "sociological" approach,
which emphasizes the members of the religion themselves: what they believe and why, how
they have come to believe it, how they organized themselves into a community, and what
that community means to them. Third, there is what might be called a traditional
Bahá'í approach, which emphasizes the founders of the Bahá'í
Faith, their writings and teachings, and the Bahá'í organizational system.
In a sense, the three approaches can be epitomized by
considering three terms: Bahá'í religion, Bahá'í community,
and Bahá'í Faith. "Bahá'í religion" is a neutral term and
carries the overtones of impartial scholarly study. "Bahá'í community"
focuses on the members, individually or collectively, and de-emphasizes the doctrinal and
leadership aspects of the tradition. "Bahá'í Faith" is the traditional term that
Bahá'ís use for their religion and therefore conveys overtones of piety or
sympathetic appreciation for the tradition. In the appropriate sphere for each--the
comparative-religious, the sociological, and the traditionally Bahá'í--each
term claims primacy for expressing the essence of the Bahá'í
2) Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship on the Bahá'í
The annotated topical bibliography, comprising the bulk of the
Resource Guide, consists of definitions of most major aspects of Bahá'í history
and belief and corresponding references. The contents of this bibliography are not
intended to be exhaustive. Indeed, we have only listed a fraction of the available
scholarship. In choosing what to list, we considered: (1) whether the source is too dated; (2)
whether the source is academic enough to be useful in a university setting; and (3) whether
the source presents enough information to be useful. For the most part, then, we have left
out: (1) old scholarship, of which there is very little, anyway; (2) apologetic and "popular"
works; and (3) sources with less than a few pages of applicable information. Exceptions to
the above include: (1) dated works that are still useful or that have not yet been replaced by
newer scholarship on the same topic; (2) popular works that yet provide useful information
or, indeed, the only published information on a topic; and (3) sources that, though being
short, represent the only available information on a subject.
3) Assorted Resource Tools
The Resource Guide includes a variety of appendices and indices of
possible value to the researcher. First are bibliographies: writings of
Bahá'u'lláh and the "Leiden List" of the major tablets of
Bahá'u'lláh--which manuscripts contain them in their original language,
their place of revelation, and their translation history--followed by lists of the major
published works of the Báb, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi, respectively;
the citations of the Bábí and Bahá'í religions found in some of
the more common humanities indices, such as the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
and a table presenting the treatment of the Bahá'í Faith in religion textbooks,
dictionaries, and Encyclopedias. Second are two essays: a brief article which clarifies the
common misunderstanding that the Bahá'í Faith is a syncretism, and an
explanation of the many Bahá'í resources available on the internet. Third are
various listings: Bahá'í videos suitable for classroom use; a glossary of
common Bahá'í terms, including pronunciation notes; and names and
addresses of the major Bahá'í publishers and journals, both independent and
Finally, a comprehensive bibliography and two indices complete the
Guide. The bibliography lists every work cited in the Resource Guide. The two indices are
one listing all journals and encyclopedias cited, and then one of all authors, titles, and
The Resource Guide is not a completed product, but will undergo
expansion, modification, and updating as new materials are published and as feedback leads
to improvements. We encourage comments and criticisms. As well, we would like to know of
any useful and scholarly books or articles that we have not cited.
How to order copies of A Resource Guide for the Scholarly Study of
the Bahá'í Faith: The on-line version of the Resource Guide closely
approximates the printed edition, but suffers from a certain lack of formatting and the loss
of many diacritics. Contact Jonah Winters, firstname.lastname@example.org, for information on ordering a hard copy.
Australia and New
The Australian annual Bahá'í Studies
Conference will be held on Sat 11 and Sun 12 July this year, at the University of Auckland in
New Zealand. The theme "Moral Development" is relevant to our personal, community and
business lives, as well as our children's well-being, and also to Pacific and 'Spiritual Axis'
issues and, ultimately, the unity of humankind.
We are collaborating on this year's conference with the Association for
Bahá'í Studies New Zealand, to promote four significant objectives:
1. To provide a venue for discussion of Pacific perspectives on moral
2. To promote dialogue among scholars on the "spiritual axis"
embracing Southeast Asia and the Pacific, as well as Australia and New Zealand
3. To encourage cross-cultural dialogue on successful models of moral
4. To facilitate the exchange of information which fosters the
development of our respective activities in the Association for Bahá'í
WHY MORAL DEVELOPMENT?
"…even a cursory glance at current global concerns points to the need
for a renewed emphasis on developing in every individual an inner guide, an ethical
vision, or, as many commonly say now, a "moral compass"
Reflection on … two key concepts - that each individual must develop
his or her own inner guide and that all morality today must be viewed through the lens of
human oneness - can best be pursued by recognizing the spiritual nature of human
reality." (One Country / April-June 1997)
The Universal House of Justice selected moral development as one of the
four external affairs priorities of the Bahá'í Faith.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Please submit your 200 word abstract to the Secretary of the Association
for Bahá'í Studies - New Zealand, Paul Friedman, PO Box 847, Hamilton, New
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30 March 1998
Deadline for submission of full papers: 31 May 1998
We welcome presentations on:
Moral development subjects, such as:- * Moral community in the
Pacific * A moral foundation for our children * The good society * Moral education *
Business ethics * Youth suicide. Any other subject contributing to: * Studies of the history,
teachings & philosophy of the Bahá'í Faith * Applications of
Bahá'í principles to the concerns of society.
REGISTRATION, ACCOMMODATION, TRAVEL ETC
The registration fee is only $60 ($50 for ABS members) including
refreshments and lunches. Full details are in the brochure/registration form.
One hundred and
Fiftieth Anniversary of the Siege of Sheykh Tabarsi
A handful of ordinary people marching mostly on foot tried to take a
refuge in the densest part of a jungle. They took sanctuary in the confines of a local shrine
after repeated harassment and attacks by local populace. Hundreds more traveled, some
under the most dangerous conditions, to lend their hands of support to their co-religionists
in mere obedience to the call of the Well-Beloved, whom they had never met. Though
seemingly defeated but with their death they opened a proud chapter in the history of the
world religions and with their life-blood they ushered in the coming of the Promised
The Association for Bahá'í
Studies extends a loving invitation to all the Australian Bahá'ís to participate in its
inaugural Symposium in Persian-Arabic studies marking the 150 anniversary of Siege of
The events of Fort Tabarsi transpired one of the most dramatic
episodes of the first epoch of the Bahá'í Dispensation. It will be recognised, viewed in its
proper perspective, to have ushered in one of the most eventful and momentous periods in
the world's religious history. The directive force which sustained it, the beloved Guardian
assures us, was none other than that which flowed from the mind of Bahá'u'lláh. Its heroes
were the flower of the Bab's disciples. Its martyrs comprised no less than half of the Letters
of the Living, not excluding the most prominent of them, Quddus and Mulla Husayn.
Bahá'u'lláh elevated Quddus to a rank second to none except that of the Herald of His
Revelation; on whose "detachment and the sincerity of whose devotion to God's will God
prideth Himself amidst the Concourse on high". And in terms of Mulla Hussayn, whom the
Bab had referred to as "beloved of My Heart" the Kitab-i-Iqan acclaimed as the one but for
whom "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the
throne of eternal glory;"
These tales of magnificent heroism, is the ardent hope of the
Association, to be a source of great inspiration, and at this historic moment, the
fountainhead of an impetus for the advancement of the Faith of God in this continent.
Furthermore, it is a matter of great pride for the Association to be able to provide the means
and opportunities for the Australian Bahá'í community to reflect and study, in a systematic
way, the tenets, history, and the Writings of our beloved Faith in their original language,
the language of the Central Figures of the Faith.
The symposium will be held on the weekend of 26-27 September in
Sydney. All the proceedings will be conducted in Persian but hopefully the necessary
provisions will be set in place for the instantaneous translation into English. The National
Board of the Association for Bahá'í Studies will shortly release a more detailed
announcement regarding the program, international speakers, accommodation, and the
with Loving Bahá'í Greetings
Australian Association for Bahá'í Studies
The Moral Maze: The ABS(ESE) 1998 Annual Conference 31
October and 1 November 1998, Oxford
The 1998 annual conference of the Association for
Bahá'í Studies (English-Speaking Europe) has the theme of 'The Moral Maze'. The Executive
Committee invites submissions for presentations on subjects under this theme, for example:
Values education; Arguments for/against the secular society; Human rights; The role of
morality in politics, media, the arts etc.; Analyses of specific current moral dilemmas;
and/or any submissions of relevance to our Special Interest Groups: Religious Studies;
International Law and Politics; Science; Education; Gender. Submissions should be in the
form of an abstract (less than one page). Full papers are desirable but not mandatory; it is
intended that the conference proceedings (abstracts and/or full papers) will be made
available on the World Wide Web.
Abstracts for presentations should be sent by 31 July to the Conference
Registrar, Roger Kingdon, at: 45 The Warren, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 3XB or e-mail:
The Never-ending Journey of the Soul
The 3rd Singapore Bahá'í Studies Conference, Sunday, April
Heaven, Hell and the Afterlife ( Mrs Lynette Thomas)
Progress of the Soul in Chinese Belief (Dr Phyllis Chew)
Enlightenment and the Soul in Mahayana Buddhism ( Mr Yeo Yew Hock )
Death: Resurrection, Reincarnation, or Rebirth? (Dr Arun Balasubramaniam)
The Mystic Journey of the Soul (Mrs Rosy Zaman)
Science and the Soul (Dr Anjam Khursheed)
For Further information contact: Dr Anjam Khursheed at Blk. B, #09--02, Kent Vale, 105 Clementi Road, Singapore 129789, Tel. 779 8415 or Dr Phyllis Chew at Tel.
766 3504 or 460 5118.
`Irfán Colloquia are being held annually,
in North America and in Europe, and in the English and Persian languages, for the
promotion of deeper and more systematic study of the sacred Writings. `Irfán is a
Persian-Arabic word referring to mystical, theological and spiritual knowledge.
`Irfán Colloquia is sponsored by the Haj Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund that was
established in 1992 to foster scriptural studies. Haj Mehdi Arjmand (1861-1941), was a
prominent scholar-teacher of the Bahá'i Faith in Persia. Activities of `Irfán
Colloquia are jointly organized by the Education and Schools Office, Institute for
Bahá'i Studies, and the Persian-Americans Affairs Office of the Bahá'i
National Center. Currently a four year program for the study of the revelation of
Bahá'u'lláh is conducted through annual seminars in conjunction with
Colloquia sessions. The annual residential sessions in Persian are held at the Acuto Center
for Bahá'í Studies and at the Louhelen Bahá'í School. The sessions in English are held in
various academic institutions such as University of Newcastle and Middlesex University,
Research papers presented at these colloquia are published in a
series of books in both English and Persian languages. The first volume of papers in
English language is published by George Ronald under the title of SCRIPTURE AND
REVELATION. The first volume of the papers in Persian language is published by Asr-i-Jadid
Publishers in Germany under the title of SAFINEH-I-IRFAN. Abstracts of the papers in
English could be ordered through the Research Office of the Bahá'i National
Since 1992 sixteen sessions of Irfan Colloquium have been
organized in North Americas and Europe. Over 120 research papers have been presented
and discussed in these gatherings. A Bibliographical list of these papers could be ordered
from the Research office of the Bahá'í National Center.
In 1998 four sessions of the Irfan Colloquium will be held, mainly
devoted to the studies related to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh revealed in Istanbul and
Adrianople period as well as paper presentations on the Bahá'í Faith and the World
Religions. Non-Bahá'í scholars are welcome to present their studies related to the themes of
the sessions. A few such presentations have so far been made at the sessions in English
Members of the Scientific Committee cum Editorial Board of the
Colloquia are Dr. Moojan Momen, Dr. Robert Stockman, Dr. Manuchehr Derakhshani and Dr.
Iraj Ayman. Mr. Stephen Lambden and Mr. Habib Riazati are serving as resource persons
and consultants to the Committee.
June 19-28, Irfan Colloquium and Seminar (in Persian), Acuto
Center for Bahá'í Studies, Italy. This session includes a program celebrating
the 150th anniversary of Badasht conference and a memorial Meeting horning professor
Alessandro Bausani on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his passing.
August 21-24, Irfan Colloquium and Seminar (in English), Middlesex
University, London, U. K.
October 9-12, Irfan Colloquium and Seminar (in Persian), Louhelen
Bahá'í School, Michigan, U.S.A.
November 6-8, Irfan Colloquium and Seminar (in English), Louhelen
Bahá'í School, Michigan. U.S.A.
The Colloquia are for paper presentation and the Seminars are for
the study of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. All inquires could be addressed to: Iraj Ayman,
Coordinator, Irfan Colloquia, Bahá'í national Center, 1233 central Street, Evanston, IL 60201-1611. E-Mial:email@example.com
Addresses for International
Affiliate Associations for Bahá'í Studies
Centro de Estudios
Bahá'ís Association for Bahá'í
Argentina Colin Dibdin, Secretary
Otamendi 215 P.O. Box 319
(1405) Buenos Aires Rosebery, N.S.W. 2018
Association for Bahá'í
Studies— Associacao de Estudios Bahá'ís do Brasil
Bermuda Caixa Postal No. 11019
46 Cut Road 80.421 Curitiba-Parana
"Channel View" Brasil
St. George's G.E. 04 Brazil
Association for Bahá'í Studies— Asociacion
de Estudios Bahá'ís—Chile
Cameroon c/o NSA of the Bahá'ís
c/o Mr. Enoch Tanyi c/o Casilla 3731
B.P. 4230–Yaounde Santiago 1
Asociacion de Estudios Bahá'ís— The
Bahá'í Study Association
Colombia East, South, and Central Africa
c/o Asamblea Espiritual Nacional c/o Dr. C. Rouhani,
de los Bahá'ís de Colombia P.O. Box 82549
Apartado Aereo 51387 Mombasa
Santa Fe de Bogota 12 Kenya
Colombia East, South, and Central Africa
Asociacion de Estudios Bahá'ís—
Ecuador Association for Bahá'í Studies—
c/o Asamblea Espiritual Nacional English-Speaking
de los Bahá'ís del Ecuador Roger Kingdon,
Apartado 869-A c/o 27 Rutland Gate
Quito London SW7 1PD, England
Ecuador English-Speaking Europe
Bahá'íes Gesellschaft Fur Bahá'í-Studien
Europe Francophone Wirichsbongardstr.
24. route de Malagnou D-52062
CH–1208, Geneva Germany
Switzerland German-Speaking Europe
Association of Bahá'í Studies—Ghana
Chapter Association for Bahá'í Studies—
c/o The NSA of Ghana Hawaii
P.O. Box 7098 c/o Robert McClelland
Accra-North 1414 Komo Mai Drive
Ghana Pearl City, Hawaii
Association for Bahá'í Studies—India
Santacruz (East), Mumbai-400 098
Associazione Italiana per gli Studi
Bahá'í Association for Bahá'í Studies—Japan
c/o NSA of the Bahá'ís of Italy c/o Tokyo
Via della Fontanella 4 7–2–13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
I-00187, Rome Tokyo 160
Association for Bahá'í
Studies—Malaysia Association for Bahá'í Studies—New Zealand
c/o NSA of Bahá'ís of Malaysia c/o NSA of
the Bahá'ís of New Zealand
4 Lorong Titiwangsa 5 P.O. Box 21–551
Setapak Henderson, Auckland
53000 Kuala Lumpur New Zealand
Association for Bahá'í Studies—Russian Federation
Uralskaya St. 6-1-66
La Asociacion de Estudios Bahá'ís—Puerto
c/o Cesar Reyes, Secretary
Chemistry Dept. Univ. of Puerto Rico
Association for Bahá'í
Studies—Singapore Asociacion de Estudios Bahá'ís de
c/o Dr. Anjam Khursheed c/o Rima Sheermohamadi-Motlaq
B, #09-02, Kent Vale C/Padilla 312 2 2
105 Clementi Road 08025 Barcelona
Singapore 129789 Spain
Association for Bahá'í Studies— Association
for Bahá'í Studies—
Trinidad and Tobago Venezuela
c/o NSA of the Bahá'ís of Trinidad and
Tobago Apartado 934
3 Petra Street Barquisimeto
Woodbrook, Trinidad, W.I. Edo. Lara 3001-A
Trinidad and Tobago Venezuela
Association for Bahá'í Studies—
c/o NSA of the Bahá'ís of Nigeria
P.O. Box 2029
Rights and Moral Education within the Asia-Pacific Context:
A Spiritual Axis Perspective on Development
(ABS-North America Annual Conference, Washington DC, November 14-16,
In 1957 Shoghi Effendi noted the importance of the Spiritual Axis
extending from the Antipodes to the northern islands of the Pacific Ocean, and in the 153
Ridvan Message to the Pacific, the Universal House of Justice reaffirmed the urgent need
for development in this area. Addressing the call for greater collaborative
Bahá'í scholarship, the papers in this colloquium treat human rights and
developmental issues in the region, identifying current trends and future prospects, and
describe specific educational projects in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia.
1. Ms. Barbara Sims
"The Significance of the Spiritual Axis and the Development of
the Bahá'í Faith in the Asia-Pacific Region"
As the opening talk of the colloquium, this presentation will provide
the framework for the themes addressed in the subsequent papers. The concept of Spiritual
Axis will be introduced and its development from the time of its first mention by Shoghi
Effendi in the1950s up to the present will be discussed. Particular attention will be given to
Shoghi Effendi's 1957 statement regarding the "spiritual equilibrium" which will effect the
destiny of the Faith in the Pacific area. Historical highlights of the establishment of the
Bahá'í Faith in the Spiritual Axis region will be reviewed, with special emphasis on the rise
of the Faith in Australia and Japan, the two poles of the Axis.
2. Dr. Graham Hassall
"Modelling Human Rights Education: A View from the
The Asia-Pacific is a region of diverse traditions regarding human
rights and obligations. With the emergence of the global human rights discourse in the
second half of the twentieth century, issues of identity and difference have become
increasingly important. There is no regional human rights organization in the Asia-Pacific, and a number of nations insist on defining rights from their specific historical and
cultural circumstances. Thus, if Bahá'í communities wish to become successfully involved
in the promotion of human rights development, they will have to address two fundamental
questions. First, what model of "human rights" is elaborated in the Bahá'í
Writings? Second, since Bahá'ís promote universal human rights but also acknowledge the
principles of diversity and difference, how will Bahá'í communities in the Asia-Pacific
approach problems caused by such diversity? Only after examining these and other
important questions will Bahá'í communities in the Asia-Pacific be well placed to engage in
human rights discourse. What is needed, therefore, is a model of human rights education for
Asia-Pacific Bahá'í communities that examines the Bahá'í Writings on the
subject and considers current global and national human rights viewpoints and preferable
futures (global, regional, and domestic) from the Bahá'í perspective.
3. Dr. Humaida Jumalon
"Values Curriculum with a Bahá'í Theme for Public Secondary
Schools in the Philippine Setting"
A curriculum on Values Education for public secondary schools in the
Philippines was initially developed by a team of Bahá'í educators and was then completed by
the writer as her doctoral dissertation. The curriculum will be offered to the Department of
Education, Culture and Sports of the Philippine government to be used for Values Education,
a subject currently taught in Philippine public secondary schools. The Values Education
curriculum may also be used for out-of-school youth and for enrollees in non-formal
The curriculum includes four learning units, each containing
sub-units with learning objectives, lesson plans, prototypical experiences, evaluation
procedures, a glossary and references. The curriculum emphasizes the spiritual basis for
human development and has a nonsectarian, rational and inductive approach involving the
active participation of the students in discovering truths and principles. It focuses on
affective and volitional competencies and it puts emphasis on the spiritual qualities of the
individual in the context of local, national and world community. It is permeated by Bahá'í
teachings and principles, yet is without bias towards other revealed religions. It is hoped
that this curriculum will produce students with lasting universal qualities, conscious of
their human rights, and at the same time, productive and morally upright citizens.
4. Dr. Michael Higgins
"Education and Socialization for a Global Society: New Models of
Ethically and Spiritually Based Education" * (not presented)
This presentation will explore the theoretical under-pinnings and the
history of the development of the two IEI (International Educational Initiatives, Inc.)
affiliated schools currently teaching within this philosophical matrix and adapting our
Global Immersion Curriculum Guide to their specific circumstances. The talk will consider
practical aspects of implementing, administering, and evaluating these two programs under
very different cultural, sociological, legal, linguistic and structural settings.
5. Ms. Katayoun Sedghi-Hassall
"Human Rights Education and Collaborative Knowledge
Production in the Asia-Pacific"
Discussion of human rights education begins by determining what is a
human right. The production and standardization of knowledge about human rights
requires an answer to the basic political and moral question: "How should we live?" Bahá'í
scholars do not delegate the task of answering this question to any human enterprise, but
rather to Divine Educators. Therefore, Bahá'í scholarship has a twofold task. On one hand, it
must identify the different ways the question is answered by current practices and
structures of academic, social, political and economic institutions, including the enterprise
of Bahá'í scholarship itself. In addition, Bahá'í scholarship
must articulate responsible ways of answering the question generated through the creative
interaction between Bahá'í moral principles and the way of life of the "we" inferred in the
This twofold task for human rights education informs the
collaborative work of Bahá'í scholarship in Asia-Pacific aimed at securing
the basic human right of access to the generation and application of knowledge.
Bahá'í scholarship and its institutions have the moral responsibility to
develop processes of knowledge production sensitized to both Bahá'í spiritual principles and
to post-colonial ways of life. This requires a fundamental change in concepts of knowledge
production, of power and of cognitive authority. These changes also require a shift in our
understanding of "concepts"-- away from the purely analytical to those generated in
practice as we go about living a Bahá'í way of life.
6. Mr. Bill Barnes
"The Meeting of Bahá'u'lláh, the Orient, and the Occident:
Concepts of Self, Human Rights and Moral Education at Daystar School Japan" * (not
Daystar International School is the only Bahá'í inspired school in
Japan. Like many Bahá'í inspired schools around the world, it faces the daunting task of
forging an education which is neither Eastern nor Western, yet which cannot be fully
Bahá'í.. It is the on-going challenge of the school to find a path through this maze of
conflicting elements to build an integrated, globally-minded educational program. This
paper will discuss some of the major points of conflict the staff has experienced and will
analyze how these have been resolved using Bahá'í principles.
7. Dr. Mohan Narula
"Steps of a Planning and Evaluation Framework as a Tool for
Bahá'í Community Development" * (not presented)
In accordance with the principles outlined in the House of Justice's
1985 message, The Promise of World Peace and the letter from the International Teaching
Center titled The Complementary Elements of Teaching, Bahá'í communities
need to undergo training in planning and evaluation skills. This paper will introduce a
framework which can serve as a tool for Bahá'í community development. The
key steps of the framework are: (1) A pre-assessment to identify communities which have
the potential to set up and sustain a community development program--for example, in
health, education, women's development, cottage industry or agriculture; (2) Community
needs assessment as a participative activity in which the community is involved in
determining its needs for and capacities to establish and operate a program; (3)
Development of solutions for primary problems; (4) Development of a plan of action listing
the necessary actions to address the problems; (5) Assessment of progress, a step requiring
the community and its advisers to determine who will be responsible for measuring
progress and suggesting changes.
Training in planning and evaluation skills is in keeping with the
emphasis of the Four Year Plan on the development of human resources using the medium
of teaching institutes. The utilization of such problem-solving participatory methods will
move Bahá'í communities from their current charismatic administrative orientation to a
more systematic administrative orientation, thus diminishing the reliance on a small
handful of overworked believers, and, at the same time, increasing universal participation--achievements which are key goals for successful community development.
8. Dr. Stephen Friberg
"Education as Scientific, Pedagogic, Technical, and Economic
Development: The East Asian Vision of Progress"
East Asia faces the future with hopes for increasing economic success,
but with an awareness of the magnitude of the social and moral problems it faces. An
unprecedented emphasis on education and an enthusiastic embrace of modern science,
technology and methods of economic development combined with a strong sense of family
and ready acceptance of sacrifice are the key ingredients of East Asian progress. This
marriage of Confucian social values and European/American models of economic
development has rapidly raised economic levels, but it is widely perceived as being
inadequate to some of the tasks of the next century. An acceptable "road map to the future,"
it is suggested in this talk, must address the need for social and moral progress in large
communities while simultaneously providing a feasible model for individual development
and personal fulfilment. But, it must also include a strong emphasis on scientific, pedagogic,
technical and economic progress if it is to be considered seriously. In keeping with these
requirements, we outline a Bahá'í perspective for future moral and educational
development in East Asia.
9. Dr. Sandra Fotos
"The Institute Process: An Educational Paradigm for Capacity
Building in the Asian-Pacific Context"
The Four Year Plan calls for the spiritual development of individual
Bahá'ís, their communities and the various Bahá'í institutions. The Institute Process, itself a
new institution, provides a systematic and structured approach to such multi-level
advancement. As envisioned by the International Teaching Centre, the Institute Process
comprises an extensive range of activities for establishing and carrying out long-term
programs of human resource development, starting with a primary focus on the creation of
spiritual insight, knowledge and skills.
An interactionist perspective suggesting that meaning is
developed through discourse is supported by a number of Bahá'í Writings on consultation
and human relations. Demonstrating that the interactive pedagogy used in the Institute
Process optimizes learning, this presentation examines the structure and function of
Institutes in several Asian-Pacific locations, with special attention to instructional
techniques which allow knowledge to be created through the collaboration of the learners.
The consultative nature of the Institute Process is seen as particularly appropriate for the
long-term development of human resources in the cultures of the Asian-Pacific region. The
Institute Process thus provides a new paradigm for capacity building and moral
Bibliography of publications
in Bábí and Bahá'í Studies, 1997-98
An ever-increasing body of literature on the
Bahá'í Faith is being produced by Bahá'í publishers, and such
other bodies as Associations for Bahá'í Studies. A list of current
Bahá'í Publishers can be found in The Bahá'í World 1995-96.
Systematic posting of essays on the world wide web is also widely regarded as
"publication". Significant references to the Faith appear in the literature of religious
studies, and the social sciences generally, as well as in current affairs literature. The
following is a partial listing of recent literature that either refers to, or focuses on, the
Bahá'í Faith. It is compiled through searches in bibliographic reference
available on cd-rom and on the internet.
(1997). The Bahá'í World 1995-96. Haifa, World Centre
Boyles, A. (1997). World Watch. The Bahá'í World 1995-96. Haifa,
World Centre Publications. 223-240.
Gooljar, M. (1997). The techniques of teaching in a letter to Maya:
what is Bahai? New York, Vantage.
Abdu'l-Bahá (1997). Wisdom of the Master. Los Angeles, Kalimat
Hassall, G., Ed. (1997). Messages to the Antipodies: Communications
from Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Communities of Australasia. Mona Vale, Bahá'í
Adamson, H. C. and P. Hainsworth (1997). Historical Dictionary of the
Bahá'í Faith, Scarecrow Pr.
Bahá'í Justice Society (1997). "Bahá'í Justice Society Directory 1997-98."
Boyle, K. and J. Sheen (1997). Freedom of Religion and Belief: A
World Report. London & New York, Routledge.
Colless, B. and P. Donovan (1997). Religions in the Pacific. A New
Handbook of Living Religions. Oxford, Blackwell. 547-561. Maceoin, D. (1997). Bahá'ísm.
A New Handbook of Living Religions. Oxford, Blackwell. 619-643.
Stockman, R. and J. Winters (1997). A Resource Guide for the
Scholarly Study of the Bahá'í Faith. Wilmette, Research Office of the Bahá'í National
Welch, A. T. (1997). Islam. A New Handbook of Living Religions.
Yerrinbool Bahá'í School Certificate Program (1997). "Statements by
the Bahá'í International Community."
(1997). "Death sentences pronounced against
two members of the Bahai faith in Iran." Official journal of the European Communities:
Information and notices (97/C 217/326:).
Browne, E. G. (1997). A Literary History of Persia, Iranbooks.
Halm, H. (1997). Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution.
Princeton, Markus Wiener Publishers. p114
Murray, W. S. (1997). "Report on Bahá'ís of Iran, 1925." Documents on
the Shaykhi, Babi and Bahá'í Movements No 2.
Murray, W. S. (1997). "Report on Murder of Consul Imbrie on Charges of
being a Bahá'í." Documents on the Shaykhi, Babi and Bahá'í Movements
Abizadeh, A. (1997). "Commentary on "A
Scientific Proof of the Existence of God"." Journal of Bahá'í Studies 8(1): 69-72.
Brown, K. (1997). Kermes Trismegistus and Apollonius of Tyana in the
Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Revisioning the Sacred: New Perspectives on a Bahá'í
Theology. Los Angeles, Kalimat Press. 153-188.
Cameron, R. (1997). Alcheringa. Indigenous Peoples: in the Wake of
Mabo. Mona Vale, Bahá'í Publications Australia. 220-222.
Chew, P. G.-L. (1997). "Life, Death and Immortality: The Taoist Religion
in Singapore and the Bahá'í Faith." The Singapore Bahá'í Studies Review 2(1): 69-90.
Clarken, R. H. (1997). "Absolute Poverty and Utter Nothingness."
Journal of Bahá'í Studies 8(1): 29-44.
Cole, J. (1997). "Behold the Man: Bahá'u'lláh on the Life of Jesus."
Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65(Spring): 47-71.
Cole, J. R. I. (1997). Bahá'u'lláh and Liberation Theology. Revisioning
the Sacred: New Perspectives on a Bahá'í Theology. Los Angeles, Kalimat Press. 79-98.
Dibdin, C. (1997). Prerequisites for successful Bahá'í-Christian dialogue.
From Poverty to Prosperity: Proceedings from the 1996 National Conference of the
Association for Bahá'í Studies Australia. Rosebery, Association for Bahá'í Studies.
Fazel, S. (1997). Interreligious Dialogue and the Bahá'í Faith: Some
Preliminary Observations. Revisioning the Sacred: New Perspectives on a Bahá'í
Theology. Los Angeles, Kalimat Press. 127-152.
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