Updated: Feb 8
Dear friends and supporters,
I’m delighted to be in touch with some major announcements!
First: I recently began a 12-month, paid sabbatical, through July 15, 2020, during which I will be researching and writing about humanism and the ethics of technology. My passion for this subject emerged last year, when I was invited to join MIT’s Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life as Humanist Chaplain at MIT (in addition to my ongoing work as Humanist Chaplain at Harvard) and as MIT’s Convener for Ethical Life. After what has now been 15 years as a Harvard chaplain, I am grateful for this opportunity to spend a year exploring technology’s role in shaping our shared human future, and investigating what it might mean to use technology ethically and humanistically today.
For an initial look at what I’ll be doing while on sabbatical, check out the column/interview series on tech and ethics I’m creating for TechCrunch, a leading publication chronicling the world of Silicon Valley and its startups. Here is a link to all of my TechCrunch pieces thus far (with many more to come) on themes such as economic justice and inequality; race, inclusion, and intersectionality; gender and “The Internet of Women;” climate change and the role of giant tech companies in addressing or exacerbating it; immigration ethics and tech (a personal one for me); and much more. Have a story tip? Message me on Twitter! Note: my articles are largely behind TechCrunch’s “paywall” though in most cases there’s enough publicly available to give you a sense of the key themes and ideas; over the course of the year I also plan to publish writing for a broader audience.
Meanwhile, it is also an honor to announce that Dr. Erik Gregory has been elected the new President of the board of directors for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, Inc., the nonprofit organization overseeing my work and the programs we’ve created over recent years. Dr. Gregory first became involved with us in 2015 when he moved his private psychotherapy practice into The Humanist Hub as our Humanist Therapist in Residence. A leading proponent of positive psychology, Erik has advised prominent clients in government, the non-profit sector, and the world of children’s educational television. His multiple Harvard degrees and other distinctions give him a bio as much worth reading as any bio I know. But what really distinguishes Erik in our community and makes this news so joyful is the wisdom, warmth, and dedication to humanism he has consistently demonstrated over the past several years. During my year away, Dr. Gregory will bring those qualities to the process of positioning our organization for many more years of success and good work. If you have questions about the role of our board and its work, you can send them to be passed along to Erik at: email@example.com.
Finally, for Harvard College students looking to get involved in the coming academic year, I’m very pleased to be working with a wonderful group of student leaders of the Harvard College Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics (HCHAA) who will be leading that work. Their bios:
Adelle Goldenberg (Co-President) is a rising junior in Dunster House from Brooklyn, New York. She concentrates in Philosophy, and has particular interests in the fields of existentialism, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of religion. On campus, she is a Student Mental Health Liaison, a board member of Harvard College Students for Scholars at Risk, and the merchandise chair on Dunster’s House Committee. She is thrilled to be contributing to HCHAA as Co-President for the 2019-2020 school year.
Nkazi Nchinda (Co-President) is a junior in Leverett House studying biomedical engineering and sociology. When he’s not working with Harvard Engineers Without Borders, Nkazi volunteers with Harvard Square Homeless Shelter’s street team and conducts microbial research with the Cira Lab. He also loves music, baking, and photography!
Stephen Casper (Discussion Chair) is a third-year Harvard undergrad studying Statistics and Computer Science. Also a member of Harvard College iGEM and Effective Altruism, he likes taking a humanistic approach to big questions in science and morality. He also likes to read, write, and binge watch videos on Youtube.
If you’re at the College, please reach out to them directly!
At MIT, there is the award-winning Secular Society of MIT, led by the indefatigable graduate student Sohan Dsouza and colleagues. MIT students and affiliates can be in touch with them and can also reach out to MIT’s Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life directly with any questions; as an ORSEL Convener I will remain in contact with the office over the year, updating them about any opportunities of interest to humanists on campus.
Thanks again so much for your interest in our work and all you may have done to support us in the past. This is going to be a special year. I’ll be in touch with anything you need to know, and then we’ll see you again for fall 2020!
Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and MIT HarvardHumanist.org Twitter.com/gregmepstein