New Humanist Forum



The New Humanist Forum is a member-led group devoted to exploring together all the many facets of “what it means to be fully human.” To attend or participate one does not need to be a Fellowship member. The community is invited to this free event. For additional information, please contact a member of the 2016 NHF Team: JoAnn Nelson (, Bob DeFilippis (, or MJ Smerken (

The New Humanist Forum usually meets the 3rd Sunday of the month at 12:15pm in CUF Sanctuary.

2017 New Humanist Forums

January 15, 2017 “Who Owns National TV News?” Eileen R. Meehan, SIU professor in the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts, will present “Who Owns National TV News?” Most coverage of the 2016 presidential election focused on the “horse race” and personal friction between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Generally ignored were the corporations that own operations and run them as profitable businesses that advance their owners’ vested interests. Eileen R. Meehan researches media ownership, the structure of media corporations, and how ownership and corporate structure shape corporate decisions about what we get from the media.

February 19, 2017: “What is Humanism?” Although the term is in this group’s name, it’s been a long time since it looked at what humanism is. In this talk, Jonathan Springer will present the results of his recent effort to learn about the history of humanism and the various perspectives on it that have evolved. Whether you are wondering about it as well or you have knowledge to share, come join the discussion. Jonathan is a computer scientist and software engineer. He resides in Carbondale.

March 19, 2017: “Citizen’s Police Academy” Carbondale Police Department Community Resource Officer Randy Mathis will present information on the Citizen’s Police Academy. According to Officer Mathis, “The purpose of the Citizen’s Police Academy is to develop positive relations, a better understanding and communication between the police and the community through education. The goal is to create a growing nucleus of responsible, well-informed citizens, who have the potential of influencing public opinions about police practices and services. Citizens will gain an appreciation of the problems and challenges facing law enforcement and have an opportunity to offer comments and ideas regarding solutions. The citizens will also have an opportunity to voice their concerns directly to the police and to have productive dialogue in an informal setting.”

April 16, 2017: “Unexplained Consciousness Events” We’ve all had these experiences: a premonition of an event that really does happen, or a sudden awareness of a loved one in crisis. Join Robert De Filippis for a discussion about his new book, Unexplained Consciousness Events: Exploring the Possibilities. One does not need to have read the book to participate. Robert De Filippis has written Op-Eds for regional newspapers and currently writes for and He has authored five previous books and several dozens of published essays on topics such as science, religion, socio-political events and other idiosyncrasies of human social constructions.

May 21, 2017: “Simplifying Life Through Downsizing” Once we grow weary of maintaining a large home, of managing and securing all our belongings, what does it take to make a change? How can we visualize and create a less demanding household, and where do we start? Dawn Crimson owns Caring Transitions, whose team has helped dozens of clients downsize, move, and empty their long-time, large homes. She has witnessed the struggles and joys of making this tremendous lifestyle change.

June 18, 2017 : “Community Volunteering Opportunities” Kara Dunkel is pleased to announce the rolling out JustServe.Org: A FREE volunteer matching website that is available to the public with no strings attached in your region. Organizations in need of volunteers will learn how to connect to the website, and those wanting volunteer experiences will find many projects to choose from to make a difference in their communities today. Kara earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art, a Masters in Fine Arts from SIU, is a Ham Radio operator, an avid genealogist, has three amazing children, and is married to Ron Dunkel of SIU Craft Shop fame. Mrs. Dunkel loves serving in the community especially at Bethel AME Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen, for the Jackson County Historical Society, and for many other organizations and agencies in the area.

July 16, 2017: “Lessons from the End of the Roman Republic” presented by Laura Van Abbema    Laura received two B.A. degrees many years ago from Southern Illinois University and holds a Ph.D. in early European history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research areas include political satire and women in Imperial Rome. She is also very interested in intellectual history, including cynicism, existentialism and all the political philosophies on the nature of the best society (from Plato to Hobbes to Emma Goldman). Laura currently works at The Women’s Center and serves as the board president of the League of Women Voters in Jackson County.
Given the political divisiveness in our country today, with each side blaming the other for the deterioration of our civic institutions, it behooves us to look back to the end of the Roman Republic for some answers. Laura will establish the context of the Late Republic by starting in 146 BCE, which marks the destruction of both Carthage and Corinth, when Rome became the undisputed master of the Mediterranean world. The influx of wealth and foreign peoples, including numerous slaves, strained the political institutions meant to govern a small city-state and increasingly widened the gulf between the optimates and populares (roughly translated as the aristocrats and the people). By examining key figures and events – primarily the Gracchi brothers, Marius and Sulla, and the First and Second Triumvirates – Laura will highlight two trends: the broadening of the “national” interest to include more people and the increasing concentration of power in the hands of one individual. Laura will then make notable comparisons to our own Republic, focusing primarily on the constitution and our industrialized economy but also noting the use of violence and mass communications. Like Cicero and Plato before him, Laura hopes we can come to some understanding of important concepts like power, justice and equality, and from there, offer a few practical solutions to maintaining a strong and healthy democracy.

August 20, 2017: CANCELLED

September 17, 2017: to be announced

October 15, 2017:  The next New Humanist Forum, “The Center for Empowerment and Justice,” will be presented by James Chapman and will take place on Sunday, October 15th at 12:15 pm in the CUF Sanctuary. The Center for Empowerment and Justice was created to bring your vision of service into reality.  James Chapman is the founder of the Center, an SIU Law School Adjunct Professor, and the founder of the Changing Minds Campaign – why returning citizens should be given a real chance. The New Humanist Forum is a member-led group devoted to exploring together all the many facets of “what it means to be fully human.” To attend or participate one does not need to be a Fellowship member. The community is invited to this free event. For more information, contact Marilyn at

All are invited.

See Also:

American Humanist Association

The Southern Illinois Atheists Facebook Page