Wilmette Institute expands reach of its Baha’i academic studies

January 20, 2021
Wilmette Institute expands reach of its Baha’i academic studies

The Wilmette Institute (WI), which has offered university-level distance studies on Baha’i topics for 26 years, has begun an affiliation that allows it to offer courses to a wider range of prospective students than ever and will soon equip the institute to offer graduate credit.

As of Jan. 1, 2021, WI has been accepted as an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) of Berkeley, California, a consortium that also includes religion schools affiliated with several Christian denominations as well as institutes for study of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and other areas of study informed by religion. 

“GTU provides common facilities for all of them, including a huge library, and common master’s degrees and doctoral programs, in addition to the various programs the schools and institutes offer,” says Robert Stockman, Wilmette Institute director. 

“Together, all these institutions have over 100 faculty,” he notes. “They have very strong commitments to social justice, environmental ethics, and other important public discourse subjects, which will allow the Wilmette Institute to contribute a Baha’i voice to ongoing discussions.”

In February, WI plans to offer its first course through GTU’s online course delivery platform, a version of its non-credit course “Anti-Black Racism in the United States.” Plans are in the works to expand those offerings for the fall semester beginning in September.

WI is also maintaining its relationship with the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where students can pursue a master’s degree in religious studies.

The affiliation with GTU “is a historic development for the Wilmette Institute, which will allow it to add to its existing courses and programs a series of courses for graduate credit and, eventually, two certificates exploring aspects of the Faith,” Stockman says. “We will also continue exploring partnerships with other schools, so we can provide Baha’i courses to any school and to any student that wants them.”

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