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New organization offers online secular education classes

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Partners for Secular Activism is a new Washington D.C. based organization designed to host “Very Interactive Enrichment Webinars” or VIEWS. These are online educational classes on topics of interest to those within the greater atheist/humanist/skeptic community. On Friday, I interviewed John Shook, the president of this new non-profit group to learn more.

How is Partners for Secular Activism funded?

Small donations from anonymous donors have helped initiate PSA. A portion of the registration fees presently fund its tech, admin, and advertising costs. We hope that more donations, small and large, can come in, but most expenses will be covered by the course fees.

Who sits on the board for Partners for Secular Activism?

John Shook.
James Giordano (professor at Georgetown University and also adjunct for the Science and the Public online masters program with University at Buffalo)
Nathan Bupp (longtime staffer with Center for Inquiry and more recently with Institute for Science and Human Values)
Robert Goodrich (president of Goodrich Quality Theaters based in MI and longtime supporter of various secular and humanist organizations, national and local).

Is there a vetting process for who teaches a particular class?

Yes. Proposed courses must fit the stated PSA mission and relate to the primary topics mentioned in the About Us page. Proposed instructors must possess very good qualifications to lead a course and have relevant public speaking/teaching/leadership experience. Not everyone has taught online already, but we guide all instructors in the use of the virtual classroom and best instructional practices of proven worth.

Do educators get paid?

The instructor(s) get 50% of the registration fees. If a class is co-taught, for example, each receives 25%.

How much does it cost to take a class?

All classes are presently $59. In the future, more complex or longer classes may cost more. Some lower-level classes may be offered in the future that would cost less.

Are classes open to anyone or is there a vetting process for students?

Classes are open to anyone. The Online Conduct Policy applies to everyone.

How long do classes run for and roughly what is the time commitment per class?

The $59 classes run for one month. Eg May 1 to May 31. There is no "attendance" taken, no assignments other than readings, and no grading, The time commitment of a typical student who would get the most out of a class is probably 4-5 hours per week on online engagements, spread out as one likes across a week. If a student spends 20 hours in a month of reading and engaging in conversations in the class, that student will get a great deal out of a course. Students are welcome to spend even more time than that, of course, as they like.

Can an organization sponsor private classes?

Yes, we can assemble some classes that are targeted for specific audiences, such as the membership of a local secular organization. Workshops, for example. However, PSA will not participate in anything where the local organization itself practices discrimination in the access of people to its membership and activities. Partners for Secular Activism admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin (or sex/gender orientation, and so forth).

The first slate of classes has already been announced. If you are interested in learning more about what classes are available or how to become an educator for a class, you can check out their website at SecularActivism.org.

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