CFI Student Leadership Conference 2010
September 3, 20102010 CFI Student Leadership Conference aims for successful 2010-2011 academic year.
CFI's 2010 Student Leadership Conference was held at CFI Transnational in Amherst, NY from June 24–27. This year's conference was attended by students from campus groups from across the United States and Canada. Throughout the weekend, students heard talks from well-known humanists, skeptics, and science advocates, including Heidi Anderson, co-host of the Parenting Beyond Belief podcast; Chris Mooney, author of The New York Times bestseller The Republican War on Science; and Robert M. Price, noted biblical scholar and co-host, along with Chris Mooney, of CFI's podcast, Point of Inquiry. In addition to hearing from these noted speakers, students also participated in an online video discussion with freethought leaders from groups around the world; received advice on fundraising, group membership, and public relations; and networked with fellow leaders to strengthen the freethought movement.
Of particular note, on the final day of the conference, five student groups were recognized for their unique, impressive accomplishments throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. The Missouri State Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster won the “Best On Campus Event” award for Skepticon II, a free, multi-day conference featuring PZ Myers, Victor Stenger, Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, D.J. Grothe, Joe Nickell, Robert Price, and Rebecca Watson. Skepticon II, which was attended by 400 people in Springfield, Missouri, will be followed up by 2010’s Skepticon III November 19–21, which hopes to be even bigger and better. The “Best New Group” award went to the California State University – Bakersfield Free Thinking Society. Led by Eddy Lee, the group was created in 2009 and organized events with Michael Shermer, William Lobdell, and Liora Gubkin which were attended by hundreds.
Because of their philanthropic work in New Orleans, the Students for Freethought at The Ohio State University were given the “Secular Service” award. Their work, which is detailed in an article and video blog, describes what they did in the Big Easy: namely, destroying drywall, ceilings, and even pianos in order to begin the reconstruction process of various homes. The Campus and Community Impact award was given to the University of Melbourne Secular Secular Society, which helped organize the 2010 Global Atheism Convention March 12–14, attended by over 5,000 people from around the world. With his group, Jason Ball helped to organize the largest atheist conference in Australia's history, headlined by Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer. Three months after the conference, Australia elected its first female and first atheist Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. The University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers were given the “Defense of Free Expression” award for their activism on Blasphemy Day International, September 30, 2009. Emphasizing that people, not ideas, have rights, the UNIFI group chalked the campus with phrases and pictures that sparked debate regarding the limits and purpose of free speech.
CFI On Campus would like to thank each and every participant for attending this year's conference. Your energy and dedication to the movement made this year's conference memorable, fun, and purposeful. Everyone at CFI looks forward to a productive, influential, and enjoyable 2010-2011 academic year.