The 39th annual North American conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies, entitled “Advancing the Life of the Mind” is scheduled to take place this August 6th to 9th in Orange County, California.
The 33rd H.M Balyuzi Lecture will be delivered by Dr. Nazila Ghanea, Associate Professor of International and Human Rights law at the University of Oxford. Her presentation is titled: “Striving for Human rights in an Age of Religious Extremism.” The conference will be attended by Mr. Shahriar Razavi, member of the Universal House of Justice, speaking on “Baha’i Participation in the Public Sphere: Considerations Related to History, Concepts and Approaches.”
The theme of the conference is inspired by a statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that the “power of intellectual investigation” is “the very foundation of all individual development.” This year’s theme aims to encourage “fresh approaches to generate and apply knowledge” in relation to academic disciplines. Conference participants will be invited to reflect, consult, and collaborate on how the “implications and truths” in the Bahá’í teachings may hold relevance and application for the professions and different domains of study. Among the questions participants will consider: How might the Bahá’í teachings illuminate study of the core theoretical concerns of economics and political science? How do the Bahá’í teachings guide inquiry into history, philosophy, and the role of art in society? What insights from the teachings inform discourses about the application of the health and life sciences? How might Bahá’í concepts advance our understanding of the process of education and the development of human capabilities?
The Association of Baha’i Studies has announced this year’s award winners including Paul Hanley, recipient of the 2015 Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Book Category for his publication, Eleven, and Mr. Vargha Dana who will receive the 2015 Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Graduate Thesis Category for his M.A. dissertation in International Human Rights Law, Family Law and Citizenship: The Case of Egyptian Bahá’ís defended at The American University in Cairo, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, in 2014.
The Conference’s plenary session speakers include Dr. John Hatcher, Professor Emeritus at the University of South Florida, addressing “The Conceptual Framework for Physical Reality”, and Dr. Nader Saiedi, Professor of Baha’i Studies in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA, speaking on the “Nature and Dynamics of Oppression, Empowerment, and Battle against Oppression”. Further topics explored by speakers and panelists are: “Role of Religion in Society”, the “Transformation of Self-interest into Altruism,” and “Oppression and Empowerment.”