Public Events

Intended to serve as an ongoing forum for civic education and intellectual debate, the Institute organizes lectures, workshops, conferences, essay contests, and colloquia for scholars, the Trinity College community, and the public at large.

Each year, ISSSC conducts an annual scholarly conference featuring leading experts from around the world on a particular topic related to secularism. The first such conference, held in Hartford on June 28-29, 2006, addressed the question "Who Is Secular Today?" The second international conference, held at the Trinity College Rome Campus in Italy on June 28-July 2, 2007, was called "Prospects of the Secular State in the Mediterranean World."

ISSSC Faculty Dinner Seminar 2011-2012

Topic- Secularism & Gender 
Fall Term:
  • October 5 - Prof. Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, University of Haifa - Sex difference in religiosity.
  • November 10 - Dr. James Hughes, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology - Postgenderism
Spring Term:
  • March 8 - Dr. Russell Blackford, University of Newcastle - Secularism, Emerging Technologies ​& Science Fiction.
  • April 25 - Dr. Hector F Sierra, World Bank - Secularism and International Public Policy Issues

ISSSC Faculty Dinner Seminars 2010-2011

Topic - Separation of Religion and State: Contemporary Issues
Fall term:

  • September 23 – Prof. Ned Cabot, Public Policy & Law - Creationism in the Courts.
  • October 21 – Prof. Mark Silk, Religion - Separation & the media
  • November 11 – Dr. Meera Nanda, ISSSC – Contemporary India
  • December 9 – Prof. Renny Fulco, Public Policy & Law – Bio-medical & marriage debates

Spring term:

  • February 17 – Prof. Frank Kirkpatrick, Religion – The Enfield case.
  • March 17 – Karl Fleischmann Esq., Connecticut CLU – Conscientious objection.
  • April 7 - Prof. Renny Fulco – Syllabus for  Church & State senior seminar
  • April 28 – Prof. Tom Harrington, Language & Culture Studies - Secularism in Uruguay and Latin America.

December  10, 2010

“Science & Public Policy,”  Seminar
David Goldston, Director of Government Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council: Chief of Staff of the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Science from 2001-06.  

October 16, 2009

"Science Policy & Indian Secularism" - ISSSC Lunch Meeting with Professor J.N. Nanda
 Presenter: Professor J.N. Nanda
Professor J.N. Nanda is a distinguished geophysicist, marine scientist, thinker and public intellectual. A former Executive Secretary of the Indian National Science Academy, he holds doctorates from the Universities of the Punjab and Cornell.  Aside from his many scientific publications Prof. Nanda is author of Science and Technology in India’s Transformation, 1986 and Glimpses of India’s History and Culture.  He is the founder and General Secretary of the Secular Life Society of India.

October 14, 2009

"Obama and his Withering Defense of Secularism" - Program on Public Values Lunch Seminar
Presenter: Dr. Karin Fry, Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Wisconsin
Dr. Fry is the author of Arendt: a Guide for the Perplexed, as well as articles in Philosophy Today and Revue Philosophique, and chapters in Philosophy and South Park, The Materiality of Johanna Hällsten’s Art, and Philosophy and the Narnia Chronicles.

March 31, 2009

"Nuancing Nominalism: Religious Belonging in Contemporary Britain" - Program on Public Values Seminar
 Presenter: Dr. Abby Day, Research Fellow, University of Sussex, U.K.

December 2, 2008

“A Preview of the 2009 Israel Elections and Electorate: Secular v. Religious – Right v. Left” -ISSSC and Jewish Studies Program Public Lecture
Presenter: Professor Asher Arian - Distinguished Professor of Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center
Professor Asher Arian, one of the world’s best-known experts on Israeli elections, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and received his Ph.D. in political science from Michigan State University. Since 1986, Arian has been a Distinguished Professor in political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is also currenty Research Director of the Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute which recently held a jointIDI-ISSSC conference in Jerusalem devoted to identifying secularism in Israeli society.

September 25, 2008

"Secularism & Scientific Temper in India:
The Global Reaction to the Trinity On-line Survey of Scientists" - Trinity College Common Hour Program
Presenters: Barry Kosmin, Ariela Keysar and Meera Nanda

September 19, 2008

"Areligious, Irreligious and Anti-Religious Americans:  The No Religion Population of the U.S. - 'Nones,' 2008"
Presentation by Barry A. Kosmin at the Religion Newswriters Association 59th Annual Conference,Washington, D.C.

August 7, 2008

Identifying Indicators for Secularism: Joint Conference - ISSSC and the The Guttman Center of The Israel Democracy Institute
-The Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem, Israel
ISSSC aims to construct a series of metrics that can be applied internationally to measure and monitor the trend line of secularism in different societies and cultures over time. This conference focused on the challenge of creating and identifying operational indicators of secularism and secularity in a systematic way using Israel as a case study. The types of measures that need to be considered for “an international observatory on indicators of secularism” in the 21st century, a period of unprecedented globalization, go beyond those traditionally associated with religion and irreligion.  Areas of inquiry include public support for Enlightenment values and traditions, affirmatively secular worldviews, and the role of the state and civil society institutions.

June 16-18, 2008

Secularism and the Enlightenment: Joint Research Conference - Claremont-McKenna College and ISSSC
- Claremont-McKenna College, Claremont, California
This conference developed comparative and multidisciplinary teaching tools that took into account regional and national distinctions within Europe and North America.  We mapped out the operations of secularism and the characteristics of its culture in relation to several discursive and scholarly fields: The study of the natural world; human nature, and race and gender differentiations; social order, law, and political government; knowledge, literary and aesthetic criticism.

June 5, 2008

Release of the Summary Report of the International Survey Worldviews and Opinions of Scientists - India 2007-08
United Nations Plaza, New York City

May 20-22, 2008

Teaching Conference on Secularism and the Enlightenment
Lenox, Massachusetts

June 28-July 2, 2007

International Research Conference:
"Prospects for the Secular State in the Mediterranean World"
Trinity College Rome Campus, Rome, Italy
Conference photo gallery

May 22, 2007

Workshop on Science Education and Secular Values
The Joslin Family 1823 Room, Raether Library and Information Technology Center, Trinity College

May 21, 2007

Smith House, Trinity College
CT High School Science Education Essay Contest: Why do so many young Americans today show little interest in science education?
ISSSC sponsored an essay competition to all high school students in Connecticut. More than 80 students from a dozen public and private high school submitted essays. The award winners were the two freshman, one junior and one senior named in the certificate and pictured below with ISSSC Director, Professor Barry Kosmin.

The award ceremony was held at Trinity College on May 21. The guest speaker, Dr. Austin Dacey, is contributing editor with Skeptical Inquirer magazine and a representative to the United Nations for the Center for Inquiry. Dr. Dacey addressed an audience of high school students, parents, teachers, and Trinity faculty on the topic of the role of a secular and scientific outlook in public affairs.

March 8, 2007, 4:15 PM

Washington Room, Trinity College
Lecture: "Is East Asia Secular?"
Ian Buruma, Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights & Journalism at Bard College

December 12, 2006

Art and Secular Consciousness: An Illustrated Symposium
Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Alden R. Gordon (Trinity College), “Secular Shrines and Places of Meaning in Modern Culture”
  • Danielle Rice (Executive Director of the Delaware Museum of Art), “Museums and Their Publics in Secular Culture”
  • Benjamin Bet-Hallahmi (University of Haifa),”Secularizing the Human Imagination: Psychological Perspectives”

September 7, 2006

Seminar: "The Gulf Between Religious Culture and National Culture in England Today"
The Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, along with Trinity's Program on Public Values, welcomed prominent British Catholic writer and pastor, Father Terence Tastard, to present a paper titled, "The Gulf Between Religious Culture and National Culture in England Today."  The paper deals with the repercussions of the profound secularization that England has undergone in recent decades.

June 28-29, 2006

International Research Conference & Workshop for Journalists:
"Who is Secular Today?"
Trinity College, Hartford, CT

March 7, 2006

Are U.S. Latino Society & Culture Undergoing Secularization?
Trinity College, Hartford, CT
Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, Director, Center for Religion in Society and Culture (RISC) and Professor Puerto Rican and Latino Studies, Brooklyn College, SUNY
 Efrain Agosto, Professor of New Testament and Director, Programa de Ministerios Hispanos, Hartford Seminary, CT

February 21, 2006   

Lecture: "Church-State Separation and the New Supreme Court"
The Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society in Culture welcomed Marc Stern to Trinity College on February 21, 2006, to give a lecture titled, "Church-State Separation and the New Supreme Court." Mr. Stern is the Assistant Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress and author of articles dealing with religion, the law, and public morality. The lecture was sponsored by ISSSC, Trinity's Program on Public Policy and Law, and the Program on Public Values.

November 2, 2005

Inauguration of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture
More than 200 students, faculty members, and members of the general public attended the lively inaugural event of the Institute on November 2, 2005. The discussion was colorful and wide-ranging, covering topics from the insignia on the dollar bill to intelligent design to the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. The first panel of the day, "Secularism in American Public Life," moderated by Program on Public Values Director Mark Silk, featured Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens; “Freethinkers” author Susan Jacoby (view remarks), and New York Times religion columnist Peter Steinfels (view remarks). The second panel, “Secularism in the Academy,” moderated by Trinity President James F. Jones Jr., included David Hollinger (view remarks) of the University of California at Berkeley, Michael Ruse of Florida State University, and Eileen Barker of the London School of Economics. The remarks of all the panelists will be featured in Religion in the News Vol. 8 #3, forthcoming February 2006.