“The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.” —Baháʼí Writings
Many people in professional and academic fields share the aspirations of the Baháʼí Faith to promote peace, justice and human well-being, and to realize the potential of individuals, institutions and communities to address the needs of our times. The Association is exploring ways Baháʼís can contribute more effectively to the evolution of thought, in their respective fields, toward these ends. Such efforts are enhanced by learning together within processes of consultative inquiry characterized by study, action and reflection.
An emerging approach in the Association is to create spaces and processes that stimulate and foster the efforts of small groups who are able to have sustained, in-depth conversations, and pursue shared aims. These small group activities vary in their purpose and nature, and the efforts so far, while still in their early stages, are generating valuable insights from experience.
Reading, consulting, writing
To address salient questions within their respective fields, collaborators strive to develop a shared understanding of the discourse within the field, including assumptions that underlie it. This often begins with the simple step of reading and discussing selected texts, analyzing them in light of a Bahá’í conceptual framework, and synthesizing insights in writing. Such efforts can enrich and inspire participants within their individual scholarship or practice. View some examples of reading groups.
In-depth study of particular themes within a discourse
Some groups continue meeting for months or years, pursuing a line of inquiry in increasing depth. Participants may attend conferences together or explore the print or online spaces in which thought is developing. In addition to substantive issues, questions of approach and methodology can also emerge. Examples of topics explored in this way include intellectual property rights, economic inequality, and aging and dying.
Sharing thought, stimulating conversations
As the thought of a group advances, efforts to share it can bring others into the conversation and facilitate a group’s own process of clarifying and articulating their ideas. Groups have prepared presentations for the ABS annual conference. They are also encouraged to develop written content, potentially for publication in the Journal of Bahá’í Studies or for other publications in their fields. Groups have also arranged seminars, where multiple lines of inquiry are shared and new participants drawn in.
This page describes elements of an emerging framework within which a growing number of people from a wide variety of fields can take initiative. If you would like to do this, a first step may be to bring a few people together to explore, from a Bahá’í perspective, a question or key text within the discourse of your field. Feel free to reach us by emailing [working groups [at] baha'i-studies.ca] to share your efforts and connect to the broader learning process.
Below are a few resources you may find useful in thinking about your approach.
Bahá’í Participation in Public Discourse: Considerations Related to History, Concepts, and Approach, by Shahriar Razavi Vimeo
2013 Knowledge into Action: The Bahá’í Imperative to Serve Humanity
2018 Navigating the Discourse on Race within the Politicized Landscape of Journalism
2015 The Nature and Dynamics of Oppression, Empowerment, and the Battle against Oppression