Center for Inquiry


For general information about online classes,
visit the CFI Institute Online main page


"Humanism, Atheism and Social Justice"
SEC 235-1212)
December 1 – December 31, 2012

Instructor: Jennifer Hancock, humanist activist, author, speaker, and journalist
Instructor: John Shook, PhD, CFI director of education and AHA education coordinator

This one-month, four-module course will discuss how humanists, atheists and freethinkers have historically been at the forefront of social justice movements. What is it about freethought, humanism and atheism that leads people to take progressive stances on social justice issues? With gains in social justice being threatened and with the recent conflicts within our movement about whether to engage in social justice work and if so, how much, and more importantly, how we can be inclusive as a movement, it is important that we take the time to consider where we have been so that we can better understand what we might be able to accomplish if we embrace our social justice heritage.

 Click here to register now!


Course Topics:

  • Introduction to the philosophy of humanism and its history
  • Freethought and Feminism: how the freethought and feminist movements co-evolved.
  • Beating Bigotry: how to identify and deal with different types of bigotry.
  • Humanism and Human Rights: How humanism has informed a global awareness of the importance of human rights.
  • Atheism and Empowerment: Why explicitly rejecting religious dogma helps empower people in other areas of their lives.

Readings: Students will get access to Jennifer's book, Jen Hancock's Handy Humanism Handbook. Students may purchase her other book, The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom, at a discount. Students can also purchase a strongly recommended book: Benign Bigotry: The Psychology of Subtle Prejudice by Kristin Anderson. Additional writings will be available online at no extra cost.

Your Instructors:

jen-hancock pic.jpgJennifer Hancock is the author of The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom and Jen Hancock’s Handy Humanism Handbook. She is one of the few people in America who was actually raised as a Humanist, serving formerly as Executive Director for the Humanists of Florida. Jen is the Tampa Humanism and Freethought Examiner for and also writes a monthly freelance column about Humanism for the Bradenton Herald. She is a speaker specializing in Humanism, ethics, morality and what motivates us to be better humans, having spoken to audiences in both America and Europe. She also has her own blog and podcast about the Humanist approach to happiness, both of which can be found at her website,


shookpicture.jpgJohn Shook, PhD, is Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Inquiry and Education Coordinator for the American Humanist Association. He also serves as visiting assistant professor of science education at the University at Buffalo, teaching for the joint CFI-UB Science and the Public online masters program. From 2000 to 2006 John was professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University. Shook publishes on philosophical topics regarding science, the mind, humanist ethics, democracy, secularism, and religion, and has debated the existence of God with leading theologians, including William Lane Craig. His most recent books are The God Debatesand as editor, The Essential William James.


About CFI Institute Online courses:

CFI 200-level courses are taught at an intellectual level equivalent to an introductory college course. We expect students to participate in the class discussion at their own chosen pace, and there are no other writing requirements and no grading. These classes are entirely online — everything for the course except the book is provided on a CFI website. You will read the course lectures, follow links to other webpages, ask your questions, and participate in class discussion with the instructors and other students on our website.

There is no specific time that you must be online. There is no "live" part to these courses, and you cannot miss anything even if you can only get online at 6am or 11pm — you can log in and participate anytime, day or night, 24/7. A certificate of course completion is available to students who do participate online (as opposed to only lurking and reading, which is also an unobjectionable option for some students). Completion of eight courses at the Expertise 200-level is rewarded with the Institute's Certificate of Expertise.

Online courses are now jointly advertised by the Center for Inquiry and the American Humanist Association, and both organizations encourage their members/affiliates to consider taking them. Online courses are the most visible sign that CFI and the AHA have entered a cooperative relationship on some educational programming. That cooperation is facilitated by Dr. John Shook, who now serves as education coordinator for both CFI and AHA.

Course Fees: $60 for general registration; $50 for Friends of the Center; $20 for students (valid educational institution email address required)

 Ready to sign up? Register online here.


Explore our other educational opportunities at the CFI Education page
Questions? Email a CFI Institute representative
or phone (716) 636-4869 ext. 408.
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