Association for Bahá’í Studies: Call for Breakout Session Proposals

Posted: 2018/02/06

Association for Bahá’í Studies
42nd Annual Conference

Sheraton Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
9am, August 9th – 1pm, August 12th, 2018


Since its establishment more than 40 years ago,  the Association for Bahá’í Studies has existed to enrich the intellectual life of its participants and of the Bahá’í community. The annual conference is one way in which the Association brings together a growing number of participants to explore the implications of the Bahá’í teachings for a variety of disciplines, professions, and fields of inquiry. Our common purpose is to examine the ideas, concepts, and theories operating within the scholarly and professional disciplines, and to pursue knowledge that is associated with an evolving tradition of Bahá’í thought.

With this purpose in mind, the conference serves as a venue in which fresh approaches can be taken to generate and apply knowledge related to various disciplines and fields of study. Participants are invited to consider how they can play a role in working with others “to earnestly strive to reflect on the implications that the truths found in the Revelation may hold for their work.”[1] Plenary sessions help to raise our vision and frame our thinking, and breakout sessions create spaces where specialized presentations and discussion can proceed. Across these different settings participants will discover new ideas and begin to explore collaborative enterprises that will extend new lines of inquiry. We hope that the format and spirit of the conference will be conducive to participation so that all can see themselves as actively engaged in a vibrant, inclusive, and uplifting process of learning.

Theme Statement

Material civilization is like unto the lamp, while spiritual civilization is the light in that lamp. If the material and spiritual civilizations become united, then we will have the light and the lamp together, and the outcome will be perfect. – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Central to the aim of carrying forward the renewal of civilization is the intellectual advancement of humanity. The process of participating in the prevalent discourses of society contributes to laying the foundation of a new world.

The ABS Conference seeks to provide a purposeful environment characterized by learning, collaboration, and mutual support. We envision participants assisting one another to advance their intellectual capacities to sharpen spiritual perception, accurately read social reality, analyze the assumptions and concepts in their fields, and correlate them with Bahá’í teachings.

Since the establishment of the Association for Bahá’í Studies in 1975, the annual conference has endeavored to strengthen the intellectual life of the Bahá’í community through creating spaces to promote learning and collaboration, serving to accelerate ongoing intellectual discovery. At this unique time in history, as humanity stands at the threshold between adolescence and collective maturity, we witness from all sides the rapid disintegration of the present world order. While many survey the transformations with feelings of unease and fear, Bahá’ís are buoyed by the hope of Bahá’u’lláh’s promise that integrative forces are exerting their influence, crystallizing in all spheres of human life, and ushering in a new era of spiritual civilization. These forces of integration are motivating increasing numbers of people to work towards justice and unity in their respective communities and in society as a whole. They are also are gradually reshaping society through the conscious efforts of Bahá’ís, striving alongside their friends and collaborators. In light of the present condition of society, the 2018 annual conference of the Association for Bahá’í Studies will focus on the wide implications of civilization building for discourse across all disciplines.

The Association welcomes submissions from individuals and groups of all ages and disciplines, especially youth and first time presenters, who wish to contribute to the discourse of their respective field through the lens of Bahá’í concepts related to civilization building.

Call for Breakout Session Proposals

The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 March 2018. Proposals must be submitted online

The Association for Bahá’í Studies welcomes proposals for presentations in breakout sessions focusing on any subject of Bahá’í scholarship. The goal of the breakout sessions is to stimulate and promote intellectual inquiry across a broad range of themes. Proposals from all disciplines and professions are welcome, including the sciences, humanities, and fine arts. The format for breakout sessions lends itself to sharing works-in-progress as well as formal research findings. Breakout sessions are intended for the presentation and discussion of original work, as distinct from practical workshops or facilitated discussions that can be found in other community gatherings. They do not need to follow the format of a traditional academic presentation, but presenters should be well-grounded in the subject on which they are speaking.

Proposals may be submitted for a single paper (60-minute session), or for an entire panel of up to four people (90-minute session). At least a third of the session must be devoted to discussion and questions from the audience. Proposals should be submitted online and include a summary (300-500 words) of the proposed presentation(s), accompanied by a 100-word abstract and 50-word bio to be published in the conference program.

Owing to practical constraints, the selection committee cannot accept all proposals. The selection committee will approve proposals on the basis of the following considerations: contribution to knowledge, suitability of the topic for the ABS conference, relevant background of the speaker to address the topic, clarity of the proposal, overall variety of the program, and overall diversity of the presenters. Youth, young adults, and first-time presenters are particularly encouraged to apply.

[1] The Universal House of Justice, Letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, 24 July 2013.