Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Freedom: Introduction

Watch Alice Roberts introduce the importance of freedom to humanists and the areas they campaign on
To make the most of this one life that we have, humanists believe that we each should have the personal autonomy to decide for ourselves how we should live and have the opportunity to live this life to the full. However, these freedoms are often restricted by others who are not so open-minded. This week we’ll learn about the work of humanist campaigners in the UK. Over the last half century the landscape of religion and belief in the UK has undergone seismic shifts. Over half of the population now identifies as non-religious. However, religious institutions still play a very prominent role in the running of the state and religious voices carry a disproportionate influence in many ethical debates.
We’ll ask: What areas do humanists campaign on? What do they believe needs to change in order to create a more free and fairer society? How and why do human rights and secularism underpin humanist campaigning? To help you explore some of these questions, we’ll meet humanist campaigners and learn about where they feel the injustices in society lie and what they’re doing to try to fix them. We’ll hear about the ways in which they believe society needs to change, to support us all to live better in a more diverse world. We’ll also explore what motivates these campaigners and what personally they get out of the work that they choose to do.
Hopefully by the end of the week you’ll have developed a better understanding of what drives the work of humanist campaigners and whether you agree with them or not, you’ll understand why freedom is so important to these humanists.

This week we’ll learn about the importance of freedom to humanists: freedom to choose what we believe; freedom to choose how we live; and freedom to find what makes us happy.

We’ll meet humanist campaigners in the UK who are campaigning for the rights of young people to receive a broad and balanced education, to remove the religious privileges that exist in society, and to change existing laws on abortion and assisted dying in ways they believe would reduce suffering and respect personal autonomy. Through their stories and experiences, we’ll learn more about what drives these humanists and develop a better understanding of their goals.

Discussions and comments: a reminder

Don’t forget to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the course content in the comments areas with the other learners. Please remember too that it is fine to disagree with each other but that this should be done in a way that treats other learners with respect. Constructive dialogue can often be the best way to reflect on our own beliefs and better understand those with whom we might disagree.

The FutureLearn Code of Conduct has further information and you can flag any comments you consider to involve unacceptable behaviour for the FutureLearn moderators’ attention.

This article is from the free online

Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education