Academy Certificate (new!)

The Secular Academy Certificate

The Secular Academy’s Certificate Program delivers expertise in secular perspectives and secularism’s progress. Become known as a “secular sage” with this Certificate’s recognition of your advanced studies! Are you a community-level organizer? Do you want to upgrade your presentation abilities? Perhaps you just want to be the best-informed person at upcoming meetups. The basic courses we have been offering are excellent introductions, but you may be ready for a higher level. Our Academy Program offers the opportunity for in-depth study and collaboration with national experts on atheism, secularism, and humanism.

This Certificate is the most flexible and affordable recognition for educational advancement offered by any secular organization. Six online courses are required, and each course is one month long. You can choose from many courses that apply reason, science, ethics, and civics in order to challenge religious myth and live a secular and humanist life.

2017-18 Online Courses:

Biblical Scholarship on the New Testament
Questioning the Historicity of Jesus
Inventing God: The Psychology of Belief
The Best Ways to Refute Arguments for God
Critical Thinking in the 21st Century: Essential Skills Everyone Should Master
The Science and Philosophy of Free Will
Thinking Like a Historian: Historical Methods, Practice and Theory
Moral Reasoning from Theory to Practice
Naturalism as a Worldview: How to Build a Sound Philosophy of Life
Why Create Humanist Community, and How To Do It
America the Secular: How Nonreligious Citizens are Changing Politics

This Certificate of six courses can be completed within just one year, or you can take courses at your own convenient pace. The cost is $139 per monthly course. Have you already taken classes with us? Ask your instructor about discounts towards the Certificate!

Since our start in 2014, the Secular Academy has offered several dozen classes on these topics and educated over 500 students, with an extremely high satisfaction rate. We hear back from many students, like these:

“Awesome! Just what I was looking for!” Andrew J.

“I feel like I’ve really started to get it all now.” David W.

“This is a genius idea.” Tyler L.

“Insightful answers to all my questions. These courses are so helpful.” William D.

Classes are accessible online 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when you have some time. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and you aren’t using video, just text-based forums. Instructors respond individually to all questions and love extended conversations. Every class becomes a community as students share and chat as much with each other as they do with the instructor.

The Secular Academy is a project of Partners for Secular Activism, a 501c3 nonprofit educational organization started in 2014 by John Shook, PhD. For several years Dr. Shook worked with the founder of secular humanism, Paul Kurtz, to develop online education for the growing secular community. Shook’s publications include The God Debates (2010) and the Oxford Handbook of Secularism (2017).

Our 2017-2018 Instructors:

Dr. Richard Carrier is a historian, the author of several books defending nonreligion, and a prominent atheist activist, public speaker, and blogger. He regularly speaks at skeptic, secular humanist, freethought and atheist conventions across the country, and he debates Christian apologists about myths of Jesus, God’s existence, and science vs. the Bible.

Ann Fuller is affiliated with Unitarian Universalist congregations in Brevard County, Florida. She has over two decades of board governance experience in both religious and secular non-profit communities. She also has been on the boards of several Humanist organizations, and recently served as a Co-Mentor with the Humanist Institute.

Jennifer Hancock has many years of leadership experience in local humanist activism, and the areas of business and education. Through her books, online programs, and presentations, she shares her pragmatic humanist approach to transform lives. As founder of Humanist Learning Systems, Jennifer focuses on teaching people about critical thinking and ethical responsibility.

Dr. Jon Mills is professor of psychology and psychoanalysis at the Adler Graduate Professional School in Toronto. He received the Otto Weininger Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in 2015 by the Canadian Psychological Association. His recent book is titled Inventing God: Psychology of Belief and the Rise of Secular Spirituality.

Juhem Navarro-Rivera, Ph.D., is a political scientist and researcher of nonreligious demographics and politics. He is Founder and Director of SocioAnalítica Research LLC based in Washington, D.C. He is also a Research Associate with the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture at Trinity College, Connecticut.


The Secular Academy’s Certificate requires 6 courses of satisfactory “certificate level” work in these courses. Each instructor assigns a grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory at the end of a course. A student can repeat a course after an Unsatisfactory grade.

Certificate level completion of a course requires (a) good participation in class discussion as evaluated and determined by instructor, (b) additional participation in the course besides forum discussion, as required by the instructor, and (c) a deliverable project assigned by the instructor, which may be an essay assignment, a presentation, an activity demonstrating leadership, etc.

Previous registrations for courses do not count towards certificate level work, but discounts can apply.

Course Requirements:

I. Any three courses at the certificate level, offered by Richard Carrier.

II. Inventing God: The Psychology of Belief at the certificate level, offered by Jon Mills.

III. Why Create Humanist Community, and How To Do It at the certificate level, offered by Ann Fuller and Jennifer Hancock.

IV. Any other course taken at the certificate level, besides courses offered by Carrier, Mills, or Fuller & Hancock (elective courses such as America the Secular are offered twice each year).

V. The total number of different courses for this Certificate totals six courses, all taken at the certificate level.

During 2017-2018, Certificate level courses cost $139 per course.

Our Instructors describe their classes:

RICHARD CARRIER (many courses)
My courses at The Secular Academy tend to focus on history, philosophy, and counter-apologetics, and have several over-arching themes binding them together in their utility. One major goal they all serve is of course to help the student better rebut and defend against Christian and other religious propaganda, and thus educate the public and free their minds from dogma and manipulation. But they also serve the goal of making us more informed and thoughtful humanists, by exploring how and what we should think about ourselves and the nature of the world we live in, so we can better work out how we should be as persons and as a society, and how we know what we know, about the world and ourselves and human history, and thus what we really do know, and what’s less certain. In all these courses, you get exposed to unique and select source material that will smartly educate you on the topic, you get to ask a published expert instructor all the questions you can imagine and expect full and useful replies, you can continually discuss the subject with follow up questions, and face thoughtful and challenging questions in turn that will help you hone your knowledge and skill.

JON MILLS (Inventing God)

In my recent book, Inventing God, I argue that God does not exist; and more provocatively, that God cannot exist as anything but an idea. God is merely a conjecture as supposition based on a fantasy principle conditioned by unconscious illusion and sustained through social ideology. Although a logical concept born of social convention, the God proposition is actually a semiotic invention and symbolization of ideal value. The idea or conception of God is the manifestation of humanity’s denial and response to natural deprivation or lack in favor of belief in an ultimate hypostatized object of idealized value. After demonstrating the lack of any empirical evidence and the logical impossibility of God, Mills explains the psychological motivations underlying humanity’s need to invent a supreme being. As an alternative to theistic faith, we can explore the quality of lived experience, the primacy of feeling and value inquiry, ethical self-consciousness, aesthetic and ecological sensibility, and authentic relationality toward self, other, and world.

ANN FULLER and JENNIFER HANCOCK (Why Create Humanist Community, and How To Do It)

There’s plenty of discussion within the Humanist movement about whether and how we should create Humanist communities. Some say that organizing monthly academic lectures is all that is needed. Others think that Humanism is most vibrantly expressed through volunteerism. Still others seek to create Humanist communities that mimic religious models of community. Regardless of what sort of community you may prefer, we explain why all successful communities have some common functions and features. In this advanced workshop, We identify, clarify, and examine the core issues: The primary communal needs of all people; Finding community – Where to get started; Attracting the right sort of people; and How do we keep our community going?

JUHEM NAVARRO-RIVERA (America the Secular)

My course explores the fast growth of secularism in the United States. Today, about one-quarter of Americans claim no affiliation with a religious denomination or tradition, tripling their share of the population in just over a generation. Secular America, despite its size remains a misunderstood demographic. Students will spend each week exploring the truth behind different facts of secular America. The course starts exploring the ways in which secularism is defined and measured in public opinion research and the reasons religious identification is the main marker of secularism. The course will continue debating the main theories explaining the growth of secularism in America, including generational and educational explanations. The third module explores the demographics of secular America and how it has become more racially, generationally, and sexually diverse as the population continues to grow. The course closes with a discussion of the potential impact in electoral politics and elective office of secular people in the American political system.