Review: Introducing Humanism course

A free online 6 week course started in February, created by Humanists UK.

SELHuG Chair Hester Brown decided to work through the course and gives us her thoughts below. A link to the course is here. 

Free online course about humanism: one learner’s experience

I can heartily recommend this course which offers to introduce you to humanism over six weeks, in three hours a week.

Called ‘Introducing humanism: non-religious approaches to life’, the course has been developed by Humanists UK in partnership with ‘FutureLearn’ who provide the learning platform.

Each week starts and ends with comedian Sandi Toksvig telling you what you are going to cover and then congratulating you for getting to the end!

It is a thing of beauty. Bite-size essays (just a few paragraphs long) ask key questions and explore issues. They introduce you to some of the main thinkers and philosophers who have developed a position on the question in hand.

At the end of each essay you are invited to comment: when you click down, you discover that two or three hundred other students have already commented. That is one of the nicest parts of the course, to be able to see what others are thinking, to join their conversations, and get responses to your own comments.

The other learners range from people who are discovering humanism and thinking about ‘life’s big questions’ for the first time – and are often quite excited! – to those developing their knowledge and thinking.

I think the course works well, whatever your level. It gives direct, straightforward information about humanist views which helps the beginner and gives welcome clarity to more knowledgeable learners. It also asks questions and opens up debates which are relevant to everyone. And it suggests further reading and watching for those who want to explore a particular topic in more depth.

The course encourages discussion and debate around life’s big questions: How can I know what is true? What is the best way to live? What kind of world do I want? Where does morality come from? What does it mean to be a human being?

This is a rich and beautifully designed programme. You have to romp through and not get too involved in the comments in order to do it in three hours a week. One could easily spend many more hours.

Congratulations to Humanists UK for creating such a brilliant resource.

Hester Brown, March 2018