ABS conference explores social identity, race amity, arts and media discourse

May 24, 2018
ABS conference explores social identity, race amity, arts and media discourse

How can Baha’i thought influence the way we see our place in the world? The ways we conduct ourselves in our occupations and artistic expressions? The ways people from diverse backgrounds relate to each other?

And how might such influences already be working?  

These are some of the fascinating explorations behind the headline sessions, participatory workshops, research presentations and other gatherings at this year’s 42nd annual Conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies–North America (ABS), Aug. 9–12 in Atlanta.

The annual conference is open to anyone interested in how people are applying the power of Baha’u’llah’s teachings to lives, communities and society as a whole.

ABS Conference 2016 large crowd
Main sessions of the ABS conference are a gathering place for the more than 1,000 attendees each year, as in this scene from 2016. Photo by Dylan Sheper

For the first time, youth ages 15–18 will have a dedicated conference at the same time and venue, with unique sessions, arts, music, discussions and workshops.

In another first for this popular conference, facilities will include spaces for children too young for the established children’s program: a run-and-play room and a quiet place for nursing mothers.

July 31 is the deadline for a discount on advance registration through the ABS website.

Main sessions will feature:

  • Firaydoun Javaheri, a former member of the Universal House of Justice, the worldwide governing body of the Baha’i Faith.
  • Shahrzad Sabet, visiting assistant research professor for the Baha’i Chair for World Peace program at the University of Maryland, on “Social Identity and the Oneness of Humankind: Reconciling the Universal with the Particular.”
  • Jesse Washington, senior writer for ESPN who has co-created The Undefeated series of video stories on the intersection of race, sports and culture.
  • Masud Olufani, artist-in-residence at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, whose awards include the 2016 Southern Art Prize for the state of Georgia.
  • A panel presentation on the documentary film An American Story: Race Amity and the Other Tradition, featuring William Smith, executive director of the National Center for Race Amity at Wheelock College in Boston, and Craig Rothman, director of U.S. Baha’i Media Services.

A number of the presentations and sessions are the fruit of year-round collaboration within ABS working groups that look at learning within specific fields. Current working groups are focused on agriculture, economics, education, law, health, indigenous studies, media, organizational development, religion, science and technology.

Workshops will cover core concepts surrounding participation in society’s discourses, including currents of thought within professions and academic disciplines.

Other sessions offer the presentation of original research by young scholars, professionals and artists on themes across diverse subjects.

Please like and follow the Association for Baha’i Studies on Facebook for updates leading to the conference. To subscribe to the ABS mailing list, please fill out this contact form.

Sponsored by the Baha’is of Canada and supported by the Baha’is of the United States, the association creates programs for a growing number of participants to explore the implications of the Baha’i teachings for a variety of disciplines, professions and fields of inquiry.

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