Unity in Diversity:
Toward a Correlation of the Bahá'í Perspective with current empirical findings in the social science literature

By Ismael Velasco

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #93
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 8–11, 2009
(see list of papers from #93)

    As a global community uniquely and entirely centred on the achievement of unity (while emphatically rejecting uniformity), whose "watchword" is bindingly said in its authoritative writings to be "unity in diversity", the Baha'i community may well have much to learn from, and much to contribute to, the immense efforts that are being devoted by psychologists, sociologists and network theorists to understanding the workings of both unity, and diversity, in human collectivities. The present paper, rather than aiming at an exhaustive review, is a "pathfinder" essay, seeking to locate diversity and cohesion research within the field of Baha'i studies, providing a preliminary survey of some key trends in the social science literature; offer some initial thoughts as to how these findings correlate with the perspective found in the Baha'i Writings; and, in particular, delineate the type of practical insights which this field may offer the Baha'i community, and the opportunities which the workings of the Baha'i community might in turn offer researchers seeking insight into this area.

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