GBH Winter Lunch/Lecture: "The Challenges of Collegiate Secular Organizing"

This is a past event

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Location image of event venue


• What we'll do
Our neighbors at the Greater Boston Humanists have sent us an invitation to this event, along with their wishes that we all have a very Happy New Year. At this luncheon, we'll be celebrating the recent winter solstice in association with other secular groups.

This time around, we'll be enjoying an Indian buffet meal at the India Pavilion in Central Square Cambridge. There will also be a speaking program, featuring the current lead organizer of the Secular Society of MIT, graduate student Sohan Dsouza. Over the past two years, Sohan has revitalized the group through events planning, community building, and interorganizational coordination. His talk is titled "Challenges and Opportunities in Collegiate Secular Organizing". A brief description:

"The growth of 'the non-religious' demographic group on the country’s college campuses — as in the general population — would appear to bode well for secular organizing at universities. However, for many in collegiate secular organizing, 'it takes all the running you can do to stay in place'. Many groups continue to repurpose, lapse into inactivity, or cease existing altogether. Especially in the Northeast, secular organizing across universities faces numerous tactical and strategic challenges — from the paradoxical effect of a de facto secular undercurrent on any advocacy, to the spillover from the current political climate of polarization and tribalism, to the continuing evolution of the apologetics and retention techniques of religious organizations. Religious groups on campus remain well-regarded, well-funded, and well-organized. Indeed, even on the more liberal, predominantly non-religious campuses, coming out as atheist and — especially relevant to us — FOR atheism remains difficult for many."

Sohan will share his perspectives on these and other challenges, together with opportunities he sees, offering his ideas for secular activism on campus. He'll use his record as social chair and then president of the Secular Society, as well as examples from other collegiate secular organizations. He'll also discuss a few broader issues facing secular organizations and communities, and what these mean for the “secular movement”, on and off campus.

The India Pavilion in Central Square Cambridge (vegetarian options, only $14 per person for all you care to eat, not including drinks; bring cash or check, please). Parking in Cambridge is via metered street parking, and several garages and lots in Central Square including several just steps away on Green Street. MBTA red line Central Square station and associated bus stops are also within the block.


• What to bring
Attendees will each pay for their own buffet meal.

• Important to know
Be prepared to socialize, meet new people, and participate constructively in the Q&A with the speaker. This is one of the highlight events of the local secular community calendar, so come with the best intention for making other guests feel welcome.