If you’re looking for a place to deepen and study about the Baha’i Faith online, here is a list of five great places to start:
1. The Wilmette Institute: www.wi.bahai.us
The Wilmette Instituteis an online Baha’i Learning Centre that just celebrated its 20th birthday. They offer more than 50 unique courses on the web to an average of 30 students per course and some 7,000 students residing in almost 100 countries have participated in Wilmette courses. Upcoming classes for 2015 include topics such as Abdu’l-Baha: His Life and Ministry, An Introduction to Shaykhism, Exploring the Baha’i Calendar, Economics and the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah’s Early Mystic Writings, World Federation, and many others.
The average course is 7 weeks long, but some are as long as 17 weeks and each course typically requires about 5 hours of study per week. Faculty members instruct the courses, mentors assist the students with questions, and online forums permit students to enrich each other’s learning.
Although The Wilmette Institute is an agency of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, anyone in the world can take their courses regardless of their time zone — you do not have to attend online classes at a particular time. While they do have online discussions you are welcome to join, they are not required.
You can either take their courses as an individual, or sign up as a group. The National Spiritual Assembly has mandated that the Wilmette Institute cover its own operational costs, and for this reason, there is a tuition fee for each course. You can, however, apply for a financial assistance.
Check out the Wilmette Institute here, and you can also read Baha’i Blog’s post about the Wilmette Institute here: The Wilmette Institute: Celebrating 20 Years of Baha’i Learning
2. The Baha’i Academy: www.bahaiacademy.org
The Baha’i Academy is “an educational institution with the mission to engage in research and action in the field of value education for institutions of higher learning.” The Academy is located in Panchgani, India and offers many on-site and online courses. In 2014 they offered an orientation for teachers and a course called Fostering Personal Development and Social Progress. Their courses also have a tuition fee.
3. The Association for Baha’i Studies: bahai-studies.ca
The Association for Baha’i Studies of North America offers webinars(www.studies-bahai.ca). Each webinar typically consists of a 30 minute presentation, followed by questions and answers. Past webinars have covered topics such as Enigmatic Questions Surrounding the Appearances of Prophets, The Concept of Spirit: A Scientific Perspective, and The Question of Competition: Is Competition Compatible with the Principle of Oneness?. Because the presentations are live, you have to be online at a specific time. There is, however, no fee to participate and you can listen and watch previous presentations.
4. Baha’i Library Online: bahai-library.com
The Baha’i Library Online is a website of Baha’i sources put together by some hardworking individuals (it is not managed by an institution or agency of the Faith). It has an entire section devoted to study guides that includes 162 resources such as study questions for Shoghi Effendi’s World Order of Baha’u’llah, outlines for various messages from the Universal House of Justice, bibliographies and study notes. While there is no curriculum and the website lacks the structure of a class, these free sources can be a great assistance to your personal study of the Faith or for your study groups.
5. Study the Faith: studythefaith.com
We’ve already profiled this wonderful website on Baha’i Blog, and what’s great about about this site is that it includes resources under each book title – be they study guides, online course materials, cross-reference tools or talks about the book. While this site is aimed for self-directed study, it is an excellent free resource for individuals and study groups.
I hope this short list jumpstarts your online study of the Faith.
What online Baha’i resources have you used?