Institute for Humanist Studies
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The Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS) is a think tank based in Washington, DC, USA, whose purpose is to provide information and other resources useful in the promoting of humanism and humanism-centered solutions to socio-political, cultural and economic issues. IHS, consistent with the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union, says that it understands humanism to be “a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”
The IHS was established in 2009 as the successor of the Institute for Humanist Studies, Inc., in Albany, New York. The official symbol of the IHS is the “Happy Human” supporting the world.
Warren Wolf is the president of the IHS Board of Directors. Anthony B. Pinn is the Director of Research.
In June 1999, the Institute for Humanist Studies, Inc., was incorporated in the State of New York. With financial support from Larry Jones, the founding president of the Institute, the organization began its work as an “educational non-profit institute,” with the purpose of providing information to policy makers and other for the purpose of advancing humanism as a life philosophy. Much of this information was made available through its on line publication – Humanist Network News. In addition to information in the form of papers, etc., the Institute also offered distance-learning opportunities through its on line “Continuum of Humanist Education” curriculum. With time, these courses were made available without cost to those interesting in them. Furthermore, through its registered lobbyist, the Institute sought to promote humanism within New York State Legislation. Intentionally avoiding a framework based on membership, the Institute understood itself as thereby being free to partner with other humanist organizations without competition for members. Based on this approach, the Institute became a founding member of the Secular Coalition for America. In addition to supporting these organizations through information, the Institute also provided grants averaging between $10,000-$20,000 to humanist organization in support of the policy efforts and programming. Those receiving grants include: Secular Student Alliance; International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organization (Belgium); Prometheus Society of Slovakia, Bratislava; and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (London).
The staff of the Institute consisted of: Larry Jones, founding president; Matt Cherry, Executive Director; Mary Ellen Sikes, Associate Director / Web Analyst; Judy Disco, Director of Administration; Dr. Tim Gordinier, lobbyist and Director of Public Policy; Duncan Crary, Director of Communication; and Marty Mulligan, Systems Administrator.
In 2008, the Institute for Humanist Studies, Inc., began conversations with the American Humanist Association (AHA) with the purpose being a partnership with the AHA. In 2009, the conversations shifted to the possibility of the AHA taking over the operations of the Institute with the exception of its lobbyist efforts. In stead, it was eventually decided in 2009 that the Institute should be reconstitute along the lines of a formal think tank, with another organization (The Humanist Institute) taking over its on line classes. It was argued a formal think tank would be positioned to provide the Humanist movement with information and other modes of assistance with the promotion of humanism in the United States and elsewhere.
A meeting was held in Arizona in 2009 to map out the reconstituted Institute for Humanist Studies Think Tank. Shortly after that meeting, a broad of directors was constituted, and Anthony Pinn was asked to serve as Director of Research. The first Programming Director was Diane Griffin, who served in that capacity during the first nine months of the Institute. The vision statement for the new Institute was drafted and approved by the Board in November 2010. This document outlined the structure and purpose of the organization. The structure of the Institute is as follows:
Anthony Pinn, Director of Research
Board of Directors
- Warren Wolf - President
- Larry Jones - Founder, Vice-president
- Carol Wintermute - Vice-president
- Jim Craig - Treasurer
- Roy Speckhardt - Secretary
- Louis Altman - Boardmember-at-large
- Amanda Knief - Boardmember-at-large
- Jennifer Kalmanson - Boardmember-at-large
The Institute also hosts a stellar group of Senior Fellows. These Fellows comprise the core of the Institute's research division and whose expertise and insights will help shape both the information and modes of practice we are able to provide the larger humanist movement. The Institute currently hosts seven Fellows, with the goal of expanding this number. They include:
- Arthur Caplan, the Emanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of the Center for Bioethics.
- Professor Sebastian Velez, an Evolutionary Biologist and a PhD candidate in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.
- Peter Derkx, Professor of Humanism and Worldviews at the University of Humanistics (Utrecht, Netherlands). His main fields of interest are the theory of humanism as a worldview, and science, technology and meanings of life.
- Sikivu Hutchison, editor of blackfemlens.org. She is a leading figure in African-American humanism and a popular blogger and speaker, and a commentator for KPFK 90.7 FM.
- Howard Radest, chair of the Biomedical Ethics Committee of Hilton Head Regional Medical Center, and consultant to the Ethics Committee of the South Carolina Medical Association.
- Sharon Welch is an internationally known scholar with award winning work related to issue of social ethics and culture. She is currently Provost and Professor of Religion and Society at Meadville Lombard Theological School.
- Monica Miller, post-doctoral Fellow in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania and adjunct faculty at Columbia University. Dr. Miller’s work involves attention to cultural studies and theories of social interaction.
The Fellows provide the intellectual resource by means of which the Institute seeks to address issues such as: politics (Church and State); social advancement; humanism and morality; global humanism; humanism and the sciences; humanist analysis of cultural developments.
The Institute for Humanist Studies Think Tank was founded in 1999 and re-organized in 2009. The IHS is a tax exempt, 501 (c) (3), organization.
The Institute for Humanist Studies is committed to information and practices meant to address the socio-political, economic and cultural challenges facing communities within the United States and within a global context. At The Institute for Humanist Studies we view humanism as having the moral imperative to extend the circle of justice, caring and concern to all.
The Institute for Humanist Studies supports its mission through careful attention to and implementation of the following goals as a way to advance in the public arena the benefits of Humanist thought and praxis for the advancement of human life:
- Creative Partnership with other organizations having similar objectives through which HIS provides research necessary to advance Humanist approaches to pressing concerns;
- The production of working papers, pamphlets, and other materials by leading humanist scholars, scholars with humanist sympathizes, and community leaders;
- To provide expertise on humanism to the media, elected representatives, policy makers, opinion leaders, and community leaders;
- The production of books (written with a general readership in mind) addressing pressing issues and offering practical solutions;
- Sponsorships of conferences and working groups to reflect on and address issues connected to the commitments of the Institute;
- Development of community-based projects meant to: (a) increase public understanding of and sympathy toward humanism; (b) mark the Institutes’ commitment to community service and development.
Institute for Humanist Studies Think Tank Outlets
The re-organized Institute for Humanist Studies seeks to be an important source of humanism-based information for a variety of community partners. At this point, its major outlet for this work is the “Studies in Humanist Thought and Praxis” book series it edits and publishes through Equinox, a United Kingdom based publishers with extensive markets in Europe and the United States.