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The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 17, Number 2.

New Technologies at the Center for Inquiry

by Timothy Binga

The Center for Inquiry, the umbrella organization that provides office services to CSICOP and CSH, has been dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century through the recent addition of a Windows NT network. The Center’s Windows-based computers are now all linked through a central server that provides e-mail, contact information, and Internet searching. The server is connected to a high-speed data line known as a T-1 line, and this provides us with an extremely fast and reliable connection to the outside world. 

While everyone working at the Center will benefit from these changes, the CFI Libraries will benefit more than any other group. Fast referencing, connection to other libraries, and the ability to share documents will make the Libraries indispensable to everyone doing research here at the Center.

What about people outside the Center who would like to do research here, or who just want to see the Libraries’ holdings? We are proud to announce that within the next several months we will be launching a Web site that will give all the readers of our various magazines the ability to search our holdings on the Internet. We are working with Brodart Automation, the company that provided us with our old library software, to create a new library catalogue that is Web-based and therefore able to be placed on the Internet. Our old holdings’ site through the Western New York Library Resources Council was a shared site, and only updated on a yearly basis. When our new system is completed, we will be the sole library and we will be updating the files on a daily basis.

The Web site itself will also include bibliographies of materials, information about the libraries, and other features. Many of the components have already been completed. It is just a matter of waiting until Brodart can complete the system and we can verify that it is working correctly. Look for more details in the upcoming months ahead.

Timothy Binga is the director of Libraries and director of Information Technology at the Center for Inquiry. He can be reached at tbinga@centerforinquiry.net

Campus Freethought Alliance News

by Austin Dacey

At a time when an empirical study presented at the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion reported that “spirituality” is thriving on U.S. college campuses, the Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA) continued its successful membership drive in the fall, delivering tens of thousands of pieces of free promotional literature and material to students for use in launching new CFA affiliate groups and the growing membership of existing groups.

CFA field representatives made campus visits throughout the spring semester, bringing the total of states and providences reached throughout this academic year to Alabama, British Columbia, California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Ontario, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The CFA’s new marketing on campus and on the Internet seems to be paying off: the organization is now contacted by five interested students on average every day. To cope with the volume of new memberships and inquiries, CFA staff have worked with consultants to custom-design a Web-based data management system. Meanwhile, the popular CFA Affiliate Organizing Guide has been reprinted in a more attractive and cost-effective edition, allowing for distribution of free copies to any and all curious students.

In the spring term the CFA helped sponsor campus debates and speaking engagements on theism and atheism, the historicity of the Resurrection, humanism and the civil rights movement, the psychology of perception, religion and sexual politics, the radical anti-abortion movement, the CFA, stress management from a humanist perspective, and others, including a first-of-its-kind event: a campuswide debate between two noted scientists on the medical value of intercessory prayer. Half a dozen campus groups marked Darwin Day, February 12, with celebrations and informational events.

On the international front, CFA continued its support for its adopted school for Afghan women and girls who are denied education under the Taliban regime. Expanding humanist outreach to students in Iran will be one of the summer projects for Danielle Lebens, a political science major at the University of Pittsburgh who will complete an internship at the Center for Inquiry West in May and June.

With Danielle’s internship, the CFA can for the first time offer credit towards a degree for one of its student internships, which are now being administered under the auspices of the Center for Inquiry Institute. Other summer 2001 interns at the Center for Inquiry International will include Melissa Belliares, a sociology major at Langara College, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Rosemary Scholfield, who studies philosophy and politics at the University of Leeds, in the United Kingdom. The Center will also be visited by Vikas Gora, a young humanist activist from Vijayawada, India, who is being sponsored by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

CFA staff and volunteers are gearing up for the CFA Annual Conference 2001, beginning on World Humanist Day, June 21 at the Center for Inquiry International. This year’s conference, whose decidedly nonacademic tone is expected to help draw twice as many students as last year, features a writer for the wildly popular (and irreverent) satirical newspaper The Onion; “mad scientist” David Willey, as featured on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”; humanist and skeptic media entrepreneurs Jeffery Jay Lowder, founder of the Internet Infidels; Reginald Finley, host of the Internet radio show “Live with The Infidel Guy”; and Gerry Dantone, creator of Infidel Records; as well as Professor Paul Kurtz, Dr. Ed Buckner, Beth Corbin of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and representatives of Skeptical Inquirer magazine and the Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies.

Austin Dacey is CFA coordinator.

Meet the CSH Board

by Arthur Urrows

With this issue, SHB begins a series on the CSH’s board of directors.—Eds.

Joe Levee has been a resolute activist for humanism since he began attending CSH seminars in the late 1980s. Motivated by the enthusiasm of Paul Kurtz, he founded a local group for Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, the Free Inquiry Group, (FIG for short). FIG will be ten years old this year. It is an active group of over 90 members, with two events each month, a monthly newsletter called FIG Leaves, and a Web site at www.gofigger.org.  Joe and another member, Wolf Roder, taught a course, “Exploring Secular Humanism,” at the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Learning in Retirement. FIG members started Camp Quest, the only residential summer camp for children of secular humanists in the United States.

Joe has lived in Cincinnati since the company he was working for as vice-president for taxes was acquired by Procter & Gamble. After he was invited to join the board of CSH in 1995, he was elected treasurer because of his financial background. He is also a director and treasurer of the Center for Inquiry, Inc. In Cincinnati, he serves on the board of directors of two nonprofits besides FIG.

Joe and his wife Barbara were married in l980 and each has three grown children from an earlier marriage.

Arthur Urrows is chief development officer for CSH.

[*] Secular Humanism Online Library

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