Harvard University Extension School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of the twelve degree-granting schools of Harvard University.
Limited Seating Available : RSVP below to reserve your seat…
“The Harvard Great Debate” is a new forum that facilitates inter-school debate involving various Harvard schools in order to stir the great intellectual traditions of engagement within this venerable institution and facilitate more collaboration between students and faculty on projects across the university. This first event includes Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Division of Continuing Education and Harvard College and it surrounds the topics of Harvard, God, faith, and education. The event is open to all Harvard schools, graduate & professional, and to the general public.
The debate topic specifically focuses on the question: “is it intellectually valid or rational to believe in God’s existence?” It will be centered on the science-religion interface which has elements of religion, philosophy, logic, science and is particularly relevant to Harvard given its original foundations of faith, its subsequent history of struggle with faith, and given Newsweek’s recent article on “Harvard’s Crisis of Faith” (http://www.newsweek.com/id/233413).
This debate event will feature focused participation from selected Harvard faculty, current students, and alumni. Arrive at 6pm for a full night of debate with distinguished Harvard faculty, Harvard students and alumni, and social mixer with light food and drinks. Harvard faculty will take the stage for a moderated debate surrounding this controversial and relevant topic. Students and alumni will also bring a fresh viewpoint to the discussion. Bring your questions for the speakers as a specified time will be allowed for audience participation.
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Harvard Extension Service & Leadership Society + Harvard Extension Alumni Association
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(supporting the proposition)
Hollis Research Professor of Divinity
AB, University of Pennsylvania
BD, Yale Divinity School
PhD, Harvard University
Harvey Cox is Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard, where he began teaching in 1965, both at HDS and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. An American Baptist minister, he was the Protestant chaplain at Temple University and the director of religious activities at Oberlin College; an ecumenical fraternal worker in Berlin; and a professor at Andover Newton Theological School. His research and teaching interests focus on the interaction of religion, culture, and politics. Among the issues he explores are urbanization, theological developments in world Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations, and current spiritual movements in the global setting (particularly Pentecostalism).
He has been a visiting professor at Brandeis University, Seminario Bautista de Mexico, the Naropa Institute, and the University of Michigan.
He is also a prolific author. His most recent book is The Future of Faith (HarperCollins, 2009). His Secular City, published in 1965, became an international bestseller and was selected by the University of Marburg as one of the most influential books of Protestant theology in the twentieth century. His other books includeWhen Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Decisions Today, The Feast of Fools; The Seduction of the Spirit; Religion in the Secular City; The Silencing of Leonardo Boff: Liberation Theology and the Future of World Christianity; Many Mansions: A Christian’s Encounters With Other Faiths;Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality; The Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century; and Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and a Christian’s Journey Through the Jewish Year.
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(opposing the proposition)
Professor of Psychology, Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Biological Anthropology, Harvard College
Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Education and Program in Neurosciences
Co-Director, Mind, Brain and Behavior Program
Fellow, Center for Ethics
Director, Cognitive Evolution Lab
Marc Hauser received a BS from Bucknell University and a PhD from UCLA. Currently, Professor Hauser is a Harvard College Professor, and Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, and Biological Anthropology. He is the co-director of the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Program at Harvard, Director of the Cognitive Evolution Lab, and adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Education and the Program in Neurosciences.
Professor Hauser’s research sits at the interface between evolutionary biology and cognitive neuroscience and is aimed at understanding the processes and consequences of cognitive evolution. Observations and experiments focus on nonhuman animals and humans of different ages and mental competence, incorporating methodological procedures and theoretical insights from ethology, infant cognitive development, evolutionary theory, cognitive neuroscience and neurobiology. Current foci include: studies of language evolution, the nature of moral judgments, the development and evolution of mathematical representations, comparative studies of economic-like choice, the precursors to musical competence, and the nature of event perception.
One of his research projects is the internet based ‘The Moral Sense Test’ in which the participant is presented with 10 hypothetical moral dilemmas and is asked to judge each one.
Professor Hauser is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a science medal from the Collège de France, and aGuggenheim Fellowship. He has published approximately 200 articles in major research journals as well as six books. His work has frequently been covered by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and he makes frequent appearances on various NPR shows, as well as television and international radio.
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Andre Bisasor (HES Student) – Affirming Side
President, Harvard Extension Student Association
Andre Bisasor, a graduate student at Harvard Extension School, is the current president of the Harvard Extension Student Association (student government representing 15,000 students), the founding president of Harvard Extension Service & Leadership Society, the co-founder of the Harvard Extension International Relations Club, the conference chair for the Harvard Negotiation & Leadership Conference and the founder of the Harvard Great Debate. He has a BA in Theology from ORU where he focused on hermeneutics and epistemology in Biblical Literature. He also holds an MBA in Marketing and MSc in Finance with work experience in venture capital, management consulting, social entrepreneurship and marketing management. He has been involved numerous debates in theology and philosophy and was the president of the theology debate club (Ekklesia). He has also spent over 5 years researching apologetics and big bang cosmology, including interviewing and working with faculty from various universities, which will he will use a basis to publish a book entitled the “Death of Atheism”.
Johnathan Figdor (HDS Student) – Opposing Side
John Figdor is the first Humanist MDiv (the pre-ordination degree) at Harvard Divinity School preparing for a career as a Humanist Chaplain. To many, the idea of an atheist going to divinity school might seem strange. However, for John it was perfectly logical. After he finished his B.A. in philosophy at Vassar, he decided to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a domestic violence shelter in Butte, Montana. What was perhaps most interesting that year was when John learned that many Americans do not take their ethical advice from Aristotle, Kant, or Mill, but rather from religious leaders. He realized that if he was going to make a meaningful contribution to the ethical dialogue in this country, he ought to study religious ethics. Hence, he enrolled at Harvard Divinity School and studied the intersection of religion, ethics, and politics.
John was elected President of the Harvard Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists (H.A.S.H.), the Harvard graduate student Humanist community, in 2009 and will continue to serve as President until he graduates in 2010. In addition to running the graduate Humanist community, John worked as Greg Epstein’s assistant in the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University and gained a valuable behind-the-scenes view of Humanist chaplaincy. He was hired in the summer of 2009 as the first Harvard Humanist Community Organizing Fellow at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and is built a coalition of atheist organizations in the Greater Boston area. John was elected to the Board of Directors of the Secular Student Alliance, an organization that provides support and funding to atheist/non-theist/free thought student groups across the United States, in 2009.
Participating Harvard Alumni
Dan Sullivan (HES Alumni) – Affirming Side
Daniel Sullivan serves as aide to the Dean of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and is a graduate student at the Harvard University Extension School. Dan is chairman of the Young Professionals for International Cooperation group of the UN Association of Greater Boston and a board of director of UNA-GB while serving on the executive board of YPIC’s National Leadership Council. He has been a delegate to the Youth General Assembly at the United Nations and a delegate to the UN Commission on Social Development. Dan is a graduate of the Leadership for Change program at Boston College’s Winston Center on Ethics, has a certificate in health and human rights from Harvard University School of Public Health, an executive certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University, and a bachelor’s degree in government from the Harvard University Extension School. Dan was a Henry Toll Fellow and Fellow to the Eastern Leadership Academy of the Council of State Governments. He is a Fellow of the New Leaders Council and Starting Bloc Institute for Social Entrepreneurship. Dan was a Global Health Scholar with the American Medical Student Association, a Boston Cares Civic Leadership Fellow, and is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program. He was a volunteer at the Clinton Global Initiative, 2005-09 and member of the 2008 and 2010 Clinton Global Initiative-University, also serving as a CGI-U campus representative. He is an Honorable Kentucky Colonel and an ordained minister.
Omar Sultan Haque (HDS Alumni) – Opposing Side
Omar Sultan Haque is a graduate student studying the evolutionary psychology of religion and researching in the Department of Psychology at Harvard with Professor Steven Pinker. He has a A.B. in the Philosophy of Religion and a Sc.B. in Neuroscience from Brown University, and an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School.
FOR VIDEO OF THIS EVENT, GO TO: http://vimeo.com/13885070