The Yale Humanist Community (YHC) is dedicated to supporting a diverse community of Humanists, atheists, agnostics, and the nonreligious at Yale and beyond. We equally welcome those that self-describe as nonbelievers, skeptics, and searchers—as well as anyone who identifies as religious or as a theist that is interested in our programs. YHC serves undergraduate and graduate student communities; in addition, Yale faculty, staff, alumni, and the general public are welcome and encouraged to participate.
Within this eclectic group, the YHC strives to provide members with access to a caring community, support in an ethical framework, and opportunities for interfaith dialogue and reflective service. Additionally, we hope to engage in activities to educate community members about the worldview of Humanism as defined in the Humanist Manifesto:
“Humanism is a progressive philosophy, rooted in scientific naturalism, that affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully”.
What Do We Do?
The YHC coordinates a variety of social, academic, and service programs for the Yale and New Haven communities. In line with our mission, as described above, we regularly:
- Host community events several days a week for students and community members, and weekly Sunday gatherings for people who want a Humanist community.
- Coordinate frequent lectures, workshops, and discussions, often open to the public, about Humanist and related issues.
- Provide events for social engagement and informal discussions for students, both with fellow Humanists and in inter-religious contexts.
- Develop personal, one-on-one support, as well as a larger safe and open atmosphere for students, alumni and others in the larger New Haven community.
- Organize humanitarian service opportunities to engage students with social problems they may not otherwise encounter, give them a change to give back, and nurture the virtues of generosity and compassion—both as a community of Humanists, and in partnership with our religious neighbors.
- Coordinate with and connect our members to other Humanist communities, such as through our partnerships with the Humanist Community at Harvard and the Humanist Chaplaincy at Rutgers, as well as to the broader movement.
Click here to learn more about our regular programs, and be sure to check our events calendar for more.
If you have ideas for projects or other organizations that the YHC might get involved with, please let us know!
What is Humanism?
Even after the short blurb above from the American Humanist Association, you may still have some questions about what exactly Humanism is.
The YHC takes a broad stance on what it includes in the general definition of ‘Humanism’. As described above, Humanism is a nontheistic worldview guided by reasoned experience, which aims at making the world a better place. While we do not believe in a God or an afterlife, we strive to live a meaningful, engaged life in the here and now.
There is no creed or dogma in Humanism. As the prologues to all of the most prominent Humanist Declarations and Manifestos make clear (see below), Humanism evolves as we learn. None of the documents claim to be definitive or to describe all Humanists. They ‘demand’ allegiance to their conclusions only to the degree that the evidence supports them. The purpose of Humanist organizations is then to guide more than instruct; to encourage discussion and debate instead of describe what to believe. And these very values—free thought, critical acceptance, freedom of conscience, reasoned beliefs, the power of the scientific method—are themselves time tested and constantly critically examined.
For more information you can read our more in depth and detailed What is Humanism? page or some of the short collective statements of prominent Humanist organizations in the following links:
American Humanist Association
International Humanist and Ethical Union
Council for Secular Humanism
The Yale Humanist Community started working on this mission in the Fall semester of 2012. We are recognized as a chapter of the American Humanist Association and the Humanist Unitarian Universalist Association. Locally we are a member group of the Connecticut Coalition of Reason. Here at Yale, Chris Stedman, our Coordinator for Humanist Life, is a Fellow of Davenport College and the YHC is a Community Agency and member of Dwight Hall.
We have incorporated with the State of Connecticut and the IRS and are a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.