Hamline News

April 03, 2014

Values in Action Team Trip to Harvard

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Two Hamline students and two Hamline staff members traveled to Cambridge, MA to visit the humanist communities at Harvard in support of Hamline University’s new Values in Action program. Values in Action (VIA) is a program that provides opportunities for service work, interfaith discussion, and positive affirmation to students who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist, or non-theistic. Hamline is the first campus after Harvard University to start up a Values in Action program. The program was carefully selected for the inclusive, open-minded, and diverse community it provides not only on Hamline's campus, but throughout the Twin Cities.

The group consisted of Sofia White, student leader of the VIA program, Mia Jackman, co-student leader of the Secular Student Alliance at Hamline, Kevin Watson, co-creator of the VIA program, and Maggie Blackmon, coordinator of community service initiatives at the Wesley Center.

While at Harvard, the group was able to meet with the Humanist Community and tour its recently opened meeting space, the Humanist Hub. The Humanist Hub serves the local humanist community as a shared space for multiple groups including Harvard student groups and the Ethical Society of Boston.

The group was also able to meet with a few of the main players on the Humanist Hub’s team, including Greg Epstein, author of the book Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. At Harvard, Epstein is also the humanist chaplain, an advisor to the secular and interfaith student groups, and has been recognized as the primary organizer of an international conference held in honor of the anniversary of the humanist chaplaincy.

The group also met with Chris Stedman, author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious. He is also the assistant humanist chaplain and coordinator of the VIA program at the Humanist Hub. He has worked with the Interfaith Youth Core, is the founder of ‘the first blog dedicated to exploring atheist-interfaith engagement called NonProphet Status, and regularly speaks publicly to groups around the world on his work and beliefs.

The Hamline group also met with two existential counselors working as teachers in the Humanist Hub’s learning lab, as well as VIA fellow and intern for the Humanist Hub, Zachary Cole.

Ultimately, the goal of the trip was for the students to meet with members from the different communities to strengthen the partnership between Harvard and Hamline, swap ideas, and gain knowledge for furthering the VIA program at Hamline.

The Hamline VIA program is based on of Chris Stedman’s book, Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious and is sponsored through the Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service, and Social Justice.

Email Sofia White with any questions about the VIA program or visit the Hamline VIA homepage to learn more.