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SSA Now Housed in Humanist Center

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This article originally appeared in the SSA eMpirical No. 18 - It's Spring, We Think.

Article by Senior Campus Organizer
Photo by Amanda Metskas

The Secular Student Alliance has recently relocated from Columbus, Ohio to Albany, New York. And what would precipitate such an eastward migration? The answer is the Institute for Humanist Studies.

The Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS) is a non-profit think tank which works to promote humanist August at the IHS Humanist Centernews and values worldwide. They achieve these ends through their extensive grant fund, their educational programming, political lobbying, and media outreach.

IHS offers online courses for all who are interested in learning more about effective humanist activism, and the history and facets of the humanist movement. This Continuum of Humanist Education (COHE) program is open to all, and many courses are entirely free. Available courses include Humanist Activism and Organization, Science and Humanism, and Law and Politics.


The weekly electronic newsletter of IHS, titled Humanist Network News, includes information on humanist groups around the world, secular advice column Sweet Reason, and cathartic comics. Once a month you are treated to an audio production of Humanist Network News with their podcast. Podcast hosts Jes Constantine and Duncan Crary ask the questions that others often neglect to explore. For example, in episode twelve, Julia Sweeney-Letting Go of God, they not only ask Julia Sweeney about secular parenting, but ask Sweeney's daughter Mulan, 'if her mommy is a good mommy.' They ask us all to consider whether or not it's acceptable for atheists to shout out 'Oh God!' in bed in episode thirteen, Sex and Humanism, and they ask 'why is there a picture of IHS president Larry Jones shaking the hand of Pat Robertson and pretending to enjoy it?' in episode seven, Undercover with the Christian Coalition. Recently their podcast was deemed Best Local Podcast by the Albany, NY Metroland.

IHSIn addition to their own newlestter and podcast, IHS shares the news and views of the humanist movement to the mainstream media, and the public at large. Director of Communications, Duncan Crary works with organizations such as the Secular Coalition of America, and the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy, and has placed representatives from these and many other secular organizations on Fox News, USA Today, and The New York Times, to name a few.

With their own humanist lobbyist, IHS is dedicated to keeping religion out of local politics. Working with the New York legislature, lobbyist Jennifer Lange addresses the issues of stem-cell research, reproductive liberty, and works to build effective lobbying coalitions.

Now you know a little about who IHS is, and what they do, but the connection to the Secular Student Alliance's new office is still not clear. The connection lies in IHS's grant fund. In addition to the aforementioned projects and programs, the IHS is a philanthropic organization. Once a year, the IHS grant committee reviews myriad grant applications from secular groups around the world. Upon making granting decisions, they dole out an average of $130,000 per year to recipients. The Secular Student Alliance would not be where it is today (physically or operationally) without the help of the IHS granting committee who believe in the mission and purpose of bringing our humanist values to a younger generation.

This past grant cycle IHS also approved our proposal of sharing office space. The building of IHS (the Humanist Center) had a couple vacant offices, and SSA staff were heretofore without an office. It seemed like a natural marriage. And so the SSA has packed up all of its belongings and moved east to upstate New York. We are now working out of the Humanist Center in Albany, NY, thanks to the continued support of the Institute for Humanist Studies. Stop by and say hello if you're in the area.

This article originally appeared in the SSA eMpirical No. 18 - It's Spring, We Think.

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