Introducing “Applied Sentience” project and why it’s important



I received a call last month from Paul Chiariello inviting me to join the editorial board of his project Applied Sentience. At first I was hesitant. I have to admit that I’ve backed off a bit since June from the American Atheist / skeptic community due to what I noticed to be a huge distraction to accomplish things, like in-fighting among bloggers and much drama of he said/she said which goes against my main principle of life which is “getting shit done”




Also it has to do with the fact that I got another job focusing on human rights internationally and foreign policy as well as being asked by the International Ethical and Humanist Union to be one of their delegates at the United Nations headquarters in New York. We’re hoping to work towards more humanist policies around the world and to defend Humanists facing discrimination in theocratic countries.





But just because I backed off from the community, I am still interested in ideas and projects that bring people together. I think that is one of them.



So what is Applied Sentience?



“As a multi-university project, and platform for the next generation of Humanist thinkers and activists, our mission is to find beauty in the world and explore how to live in it. With a range of staff writers from our participating universities’ current students and recent alumni [read more below], Applied Sentience publishes everything from poetry to philosophy, from science to politics.”



What are participating Universities?


Applied Sentience works in cooperation with all six university Humanist chaplaincies and communities: Harvard, Yale, American, Columbia, Rutgers, and Stanford.



“Staff writers come from the ranks of these six universities’ undergraduates, graduate students, and recent alumni. Through our link with the various Humanist university communities we also report on a range of campus lectures and events, including interviews and original content from faculty and chaplains. Although we only work with staff writers and faculty from these six universities, we also take contributions from students and recent alumni from anywhere.”



A ‘Thinkblog’?

The aim of Applied Sentience is to provide a platform for the next generation of Humanist thinkers and activists that is informal and conversational, while still rigorous in exploring academic ideas – a cross between an academic think tank and a personalblog.
With an Editorial Board comprised of leading Humanist activists, bloggers and academics, we aim to provide an opportunity for our writers and contributors to develop their thoughts, connect with others, and get their ideas out into the world. This includes faculty at participating universities who are looking for an informal and community oriented venue to write with.
Applied Sentience hopes to nurture a constructive Humanism. There are tons of blogs which focus on dismantling the evils of religion, but precious few that dream of what comes afterwards. With the range of content limited only by the interests of our writers, we celebrate a diversity of opinions, arguments, musings, perspectives, and styles.

As my friend James Croft from Harvard University, who now works at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, says:

“Human society needs new ideas. We face challenges unprecedented in our history, yet in so many areas of life we are hamstrung by outmoded and regressive ideas. Applied Sentience will, I trust, become a space for the new ideas humanity needs.”


Just a brief introduction about the Editorial Board:


Paul Chiariello (Chief Editor)

he is on the Board of Directors of the Rutgers Humanist Community, Co-founder of the Yale Humanist Community,

Esther Boyd

Esther is a humanist celebrant working in multifaith chaplaincy at Johns Hopkins University. She holds an M.A. in Religion and Literature from Yale.

Vanessa Gomez Brake

Vanessa is Co-President of the San Francisco Bay Area Humanists. Currently, she serves on the Board of the North American Interfaith Network and is on staff at Stanford University’s – Office for Religious Life.


James Croft

James has swiftly become one of the best-known new faces in Humanism today. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently studying for his Doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


John Figdor

John is the humanist chaplain at Stanford, where he organizes programs for students and community members from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Chris Stedman

Chris is Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community, atheist columnist for Religion News Service, and a former Harvard University chaplain.

and me

Just a guy from Iraq.


So if you are an undergrad, grad student, or recent alumni from one of these 6 participating universities, I urge you to apply now!


How to Apply


To apply, email        [email protected]      with the subject line: “Staff Writer Application.” Please attach a short statement discussing your background and interest in the position. Positions are filled on a rolling basis and a maximum of three positions are open at any one time for each participating university.

This project has a great potential to bring unity and new ideas from young thinkers to our community and the world, so bookmark it on your web browser and take a look at it everyday!