The Association for Baha’i Studies holds its 41st Annual Conference

The Association for Baha’i Studies holds its 41st Annual Conference


The Association for Baha’i Studies—North America is holding its 41st annual conference in Anaheim, California, from August 10-13, 2017.

A number of themes will be explored at the conference this year, including race unity and the challenge of inequality. The conference is also being held during the year of the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, an occasion for celebration and reflection on the implications of his teachings for many fields of human endeavour.

“The conference creates a space for a wide range of people to explore how insights from the Baha’i teachings interact with the knowledge generated by different disciplines and fields of study,” said Julia Berger, Secretary of the Association for Baha’i Studies Executive Committee. “It is open to everyone who wants to explore how their profession or area of study can be enriched by new questions and approaches.”

The conference will open with a plenary address by Dr Robert Henderson, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. Dr Henderson will speak to the theme, “The Age We Will In,” to explore how the principle of the oneness of humanity can be applied to the challenges of contemporary society. 

The following day will feature a talk by Dr Ruha Benjamin, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton Unversity, on the relationship between innovation and equity, health and justice, science and citizenship. Her talk will be followed by a panel on the theme of race unity, featuring Dr Mariam Ashtiani, Dr Zhaleh Boyd, Ms Nanabah Bulman, and Dr Robin Chandler, who will consider how society can confront and address the challenges of prejudice. The evening will conclude with an artistic performance of the play by Mark Perry, A New Dress for Mona.

On Saturday, Ms Layli Miller-Muro, Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center, will talk about the relationship between race and gender in the discourse on immigration, and how to work in non-partisan ways to advance social justice. Following her talk, Prof Kristen Munroe will be engaged by Prof Michael Karlberg in a discussion about her work on altruism and identity. Prof Holly Hanson, Professor of African History at Mount Holyoke College, will give an evening lecture on wealth inequality and the aspirations of ordinary people.

The final day of the conference of the conference will revolve around a celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, featuring a talk by former member of the Universal House of Justice, Mr Hooper Dunbar. Sunday morning presentations also include a presentation by Shabnam Mogharabi, CEO of Soul Pancake, and a finale performance by the Priceless Pearls Interfaith Chorus of Greater Orange County.

In addition to the plenary presentation, the conference also creates a space for ongoing initiatives to develop. Working groups on topics ranging from economics and Indigenous studies to media and health care will hold meetings to consult about ongoing individual and collective research projects. Breakout sessions during the conference feature several dozen presentations of ongoing work aimed at exploring the implications of the Baha’i teachings for a range of topics and areas of study.

“Our hope is that the conference will stimulate and inspire many people to explore new ideas and engage in rigorous study – both as individuals and with others who share similar interests,” said Prof Shabnam Koirala-Azad, member of the Association for Baha’i Studies Executive Committee.