Skip main navigation

Global goals: Introduction

Watch Alice Roberts introduce the lives of humanists living in very different parts of the world
5.7
People sometimes think of humanism as a modern Western phenomenon but actually humanism has a very deep and diverse history and humanists can be found all around the world. This week we’ll learn about what it means to be a humanist in a more global context. In many parts of the world people don’t have the opportunity and the freedom to be humanists. Blasphemy and apostasy laws restricting freedom of expression and belief mean that they face very real threats to their liberty and in some cases even their lives. Others face less immediate dangers but still face the challenge of being an overlooked or underrepresented minority.
46.4
We’ll ask: How do humanists fight against discrimination and injustice in different parts of the world? How do they live their lives in places where their beliefs are considered to be a crime? What achievements are they making in their battles to ensure that human rights are respected, and in their work to try to create fairer and more equal societies? To help you explore these questions, this week we’ll meet humanists from around the world. We’ll encounter some of those humanists living at risk because of their beliefs.
80.2
But we’ll also hear stories of success, of the places where humanists are making a positive difference to people’s lives and we’ll explore what motivates each of them to do what they do, often in challenging and hostile environments. Hopefully by the end of the week you’ll have developed a better understanding of what it means to be a humanist from a more global perspective.

This week we’ll meet humanists living in diverse contexts and circumstances around the world. Many are working to establish a secular state in their country and to guarantee people the rights to freedom of belief and expression. For some, the absence of these freedoms means their beliefs place them in danger. We’ll also encounter humanists working for a wide variety of causes aimed at improving human wellbeing: increasing access to education, countering extremism, and challenging discriminatory caste systems and harmful superstitious practices.

We’ll learn that a common thread shared by humanists around the globe is the emphasis they place on identifying ourselves first and foremost as human beings, rather than by our gender, nationality, race, religion, or sexuality. Humanists believe we should focus on what we share rather than on what divides us.

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